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2004 Audi S4 Cabriolet

      Holy crap!
     German engineering, 340 horsepower, a lowered suspension, six-speed manual transmission, gorgeous body, and a convertible top that lowers with the push of a button — it’s got everything, plus a relatively comfortable back seat. What else can you say about a car like this?
    Since most editors won’t be satisfied with a two-word superlative submitted as a column, I’ll add a few more thoughts:
— If you ever get the keys to an Audi S4 on a sunny autumn day, you’ll be awfully disappointed when you see heaven.
— It’s like a Vette, only with class.
— It’s a Porsche for people who don’t want their mid-life crisis to be so obvious.
     Needless to say, I relished my week behind the wheel of this German beauty, a souped-up version of Audi’s already impressive A4 convertible. Not only did it look fantastic cruising around town with the top down — almost pretty enough to outweigh the distracting face of its dorky driver — but it drove like the kind of car little boys grow up dreaming about.
     Step inside, drop the top, turn the key, and it’s obvious this isn’t your typical Audi. Instead of the smooth, sweet sound of a refined V6, you hear the roar of a V8 rumbling out the dual exhaust like a hungry lion. You tap the gas a couple more times just to hear the roar again.
     “Va-room, va-ROOOOOM …. burble-burble-burble-burble …”
     Yep, it’s exactly how a dream car should sound.
     Driving the S4 is more exhilarating than you’d expect from a car with a back seat. Aside from acceleration that reaches the speed limit faster than you can blink, its sport-tuned suspension and four-wheel-drive system keep it perfectly poised in corners that would have most cars spinning out of control. It has enough traction to get your passengers well past the pants-wetting stage.


     That’s too bad, because the S4’s interior is far too fancy to get dirty. Whereas most cars look OK with a Cheetos bag on the floorboard and a half-empty Coke can in the cupholder, this car’s cabin is so beautiful you don’t even want a finger smudge on the wood trim. It would be like painting a mustache on the Mona Lisa.
     For those rare times you want the top up — which I’d suggest only when driving in hurricanes or above the arctic circle — the S4 is actually surprisingly civil. The thick, insulated cloth top eliminates most road and wind noise, and the firm suspension isn’t too bumpy on the highway, either.
     Better yet, while most cars this fun to drive only come with two seats, the S4 offers room for the driver and three passengers in relative comfort. For safety, it offers all the standard airbags, electronic stability control, plus a rollover protection system that triggers hoops to pop up when it’s about to flip.
     The only downside is coming up with $53,850 to buy one.
     Overall, it’s easy to fall in love with this car. If you don’t find love at first sight when you see its sporty shape, you’ll want to elope after a drive around the block.


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