Released in 1991, the Audi Cabriolet was the perfect addition to Audi’s current range at a time when it was entering the compact executive segment that was dominated by BMW. Audi’s efforts were a success since the Cabriolet was able to grab a spot along with the BMW 3-Series and Saab 9000 as a top-of-the-line four-seat convertible. As a matter of fact, this timeless soft-top convertible was fit for royalty since Princess Diana was known to have one.
1991: Introducing the Audi 80 (B4)
The evolution of the Audi Cabriolet can be traced back in 1991 when the Audi 80 (B4) was introduced. A successor of the B3 version of the Audi 80, the B4 Audi 80 was equipped with a restyled gas tank, 15-inch wheels, a rear axle to accommodate folding seats, redesigned front and rear bumpers, and an interior covered with better materials. To further differentiate the B4 from the B3 model, it was also equipped with a front grille that was merged with the bonnet.
Under the B4 series, the Audi 80 was sold in different variants: a saloon, the Audi 80 Avant (estate) and a convertible that was simply known as the Audi Cabriolet. The Cabriolet was hugely based on the platform used on the B3 Coupe. However, the Cabriolet was only made available to the US market from 1992 onwards. Considered as the first soft top from Audi since the release of the Auto Union 1000SP, the Cabriolet was initially sold with a 208 L V6 engine. Because the US has its own vehicle safety standards, the front ends of the B4 vehicles had to be redesigned. The bumper and front end were tweaked so they could be fitted with impact energy absorbers. Over the years, it received only a few minor upgrades.
1994: Audi Cabriolet continues on
Despite a fairly successful foray into the compact executive car segment, several B4 models were discontinued starting in 1994. Production of the B4 Saloon was discontinued in 1994, and the Coupe and Avant units were pulled out in the following years. However, the Audi Cabriolet continued on and was in production until 2000.
1998: Getting a facelift
In 1998, the Audi Cabriolet received a facelift. The changes included brand-new headlights and instrument clusters and restyled bumpers. Just two years later, the Cabriolet was pulled out from production to make way for the ATT roadster. The Cabriolet body type was introduced again in 2002, but this time it was under the A4 series.
Despite its discontinuation, the Audi Cabriolet is considered one of the company’s timeless models because of its distinct style, reliability, engine performance, and durability. It also continues to be a symbol of Audi’s successful foray into the compact executive segment.