Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's High Time to Raise the Roof

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

It's High Time to Raise the Roof

Article excerpt

Byline: John Scantlebury

There seem to be ever-increasing numbers of open-tops about, from grand tourers to little city cars, which is quite brave of British drivers ( given our rapid weather changes.

Clever and quicker roof mechanisms are probably the spur for alfresco motoring and it doesn't get much more simple than in the Audi A4 Cabriolet ( no clasps to undo, no tidying covers to be put in place ( just pull an electric switch and the car does it all in less than 30 seconds.

Technology-proud Audi stick with the traditional soft-top rather than the modern removable hard roofs but, not surprisingly, they've been clever about it. A triple layer means that noise suppression with the hood in place is first class.

Then there's the Audi build. The new A4 Cabriolet is some rigid machine, more than twice as stiff as its predecessor, and it is an open-top with scarcely a trace of vibration.

There's bracing everywhere, teamed with a carefully thought-out suspension ( refined still further for S-line models.

The ride is firm, but the car's driving manners are excellent. It goes where you point it and weaving roads are a joy, showing a confidence that is aided by great-feel steering.

Roof down and the A4 looks lovely, with no sign of rear-end boot-stash ugliness, while safety factors are high, including instant pop-up protection in case of roll-over.

Not all is sweetness and light: with the roof in place over-the-shoulder visibility is dire, a standard cabrio problem. And on one occasion the roof stuck open and needed a couple of time-honoured smacks to free it.

There is a way of operating it manually in such circumstances, but it shows the inherent risks in gadgetry.

At least I did some extra miles in open mode to reaffirm that wind control is pretty good ( you can also buy a deflector.

As always, having the hood stashed in the boot has a telling effect on luggage capacity, just 246 litres; but , the A4 has a lever system for raising the roof container when it is not in use, thus improving capacity to 310 litres. …

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