LAS VEGAS, Nev.
— A straight-arrow stretch of U.S. 93, smooth blacktop shooting across the Nevada desert out of Las Vegas without a trace of on-coming traffic, serves as our launch pad to experience the high-speed capability of the souped-up and low-slung S4 Cabriolet by Audi of Germany.
This bullet-shaped convertible, derived from Audi’s A4 compact series, skews toward that rare and sporty realm of refined European muscle cars with its big V8 engine aboard and a six-speed gearbox.
Pushing the pedal to the floor reveals that it can run with bedrock stability as if rooted to the road with not a twitch of doubt that it can handle uber-speeds of an autobahn racer.
We push it up to twice the legal limit before nerve backs us off the throttle, but still it shows there’s more in reserve, feeling like the swiftest sled on the planet.
Yet this car is also acts wicked when sent into a snaky set of turns because S4 stocks weight-saving aluminum components in the suspension, as Audi’s Quattro system for traction grip on every tire sets up a curve-craving machine which seems to defy the inertial laws of physics.
The roller-coaster route on Nevada 168 through scarlet sandstone canyons in the Valley of Fire becomes a playground for S4 as it zigs and zags in tune with each corner as four high-performance tires hold a firm grip around the tightly constructed curves.
So much strength, such corner-cutting agility and the ability to virtually fly across the land — all of these vaunted traits apply to the S4 Cabriolet.
However, the car camouflages well to all but educated eyes, as it looks like a conventional convertible, rather roly-poly round in form, with the four-seat cockpit — lined in fine leathers and rigged with power-motivated equipment — of a fancy luxury vehicle.