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Car reviews - Audi - A5 - Cabriolet range

Our Opinion

We like
Cabin design and quality, hushed cabin due to insulated fabric roof, 2.0 TFSI Quattro performance, wind deflector, ride quality
Room for improvement
Neck warmers redundant on a windy day, fussier design than the original

Gallery

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Audi logo5 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

Overview

CONVERTIBLES are not huge business in Australia, but they serve a role as a design-focused sporty offering for a few, mostly European car-makers, and they have a loyal following.

Audi has been in the convertible business for decades and has built up its own following with drop-top versions of the A4, A5 and more recently the smaller A3.

The latest version of the A5 Cabriolet has just rolled into Australian showrooms with a more insulated acoustic roof, and a trimmed-down line-up that is topped by the spicy S5.

We took two of the A5 Cab variants for a blast just outside of Adelaide on a nine-degree day to see how it stacks up.

Drive impressions

Following up the gorgeous first-generation A5 from 2007 was always going to be tricky, with the sleek, simple lines of the two-door coupe now widely recognised as a design icon.

Audi sharpened up the design of the second-gen version with a more masculine look, and despite losing the simplicity of the original, it is unmistakeably an A5.

The coupe and the four-door Sportback variants have already launched in A5 and S5 guise and the bahn-storming RS5 is now locked in for a December launch. But before then, Audi has added the final body style to the A5 range – the Cabriolet.

Ranging in price from $83,400 before on-road costs for the base front-driver up to $119,111 for the spicy S5, the Audi lines up well against its most obvious German rivals, the BMW 4 Series Cabriolet that ranges in price from $87,900 for the base 420i to $117,610 for the S5-rivalling 440i, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet kicks off at $86,900 for the C200 and hits $120,611 for the C43 AMG.

Full-fat AMG and M versions of the aforementioned Germans obviously attract a much higher price but there is currently no equivalent variant in the Audi A5 Cabriolet range, but there are rumours of a drop-top version of the RS5.

Audi has, thankfully, included a decent amount of kit as standard from the entry-level 2.0 TFSI up, but, as always, there are a bunch of options packages that can help lighten your wallet.

Overall though, the A5 represents decent value for money at this end of the market, particularly compared with its German buddies.

Some people love the A5’s new look and some people long for the minimalist approach of the original. Spoiler alert, we think the original is next to perfect and can’t be beaten, but in Cabriolet guise, the second-gen A5’s design somehow works better than the Coupe.

But check the gallery below and make up your own mind.

We are big fans of the A4 range which shares many of its mechanicals with the new A5, notably its VW Group MLBEvo platform, and the family resemblance is immediately clear when you step into the A5 Cabriolet.

Much has been said about Audi being the benchmark in the premium segment when it comes to interior design, quality and comfort and the A5 Cab is another striking example of that.

The layout of the dash, console and stack is well thought out and there is a high-quality feel to everything you touch in the cabin.

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster is no longer such a novelty as a number of other car-makers have followed suit, but it remains an excellent system and is standard on all A5 Cabriolet variants.

The first drop-top we sampled was the mid-range $95,000 2.0 TFSI Quattro – we didn’t get to sample the front-wheel-drive base 2.0 TFSI – which has a classy two-tone cabin of black up high and a light grey on the lower parts of the cabin and the seats.

Taking off from Adelaide airport for our drive through McLaren Vale and the coast south of the city, we dropped the top, even though it was a chilly nine degrees, and after driving just 500 metres, the heavens opened with a heavy downpour.

Our co-driver quickly lifted the lever to raise the roof and the whole thing was completed in about 18 seconds – we weren’t counting but that is the official time – while still on the go at about 40km/h (it can be lowered or raised up to 50km/h).

Given the arctic blast that South Australia was experiencing that day, the roof was only lowered for periods of about five minutes a time when the sun was out for fear of catching our death. But each time we did this the stated time and speed seemed spot on. It’s all very easy.

The stowage system up the back has been designed to enhance the cargo space, which is always at a premium in convertibles, but Audi reckons it has its rivals beat with 380 litres (320L when the roof is down), which is the same as the Volkswagen Golf. More than enough space for a weekend away.

And if it’s not enough space, you can use the second row seats as a cargo space, unless of course you insist on taking friends or children with you. In which case there is decent, if not remarkable space for occupants in the rear, although it is quite dark back there when the roof is up.

So what is the A5 Cabriolet like to drive with the top down? Very much like the A5 Coupe, just without a roof.

Audi engineers have worked their magic on the A5, improving torsional rigidity by 40 per cent and it certainly feels stiff and solid. We did not notice any scuttle shake when we had the roof lowered, and we did encounter some rough roads that would uncover that kind of thing.

The German car-maker offers a removable wind deflector as standard that is fitted behind the front seats, meaning you can’t have rear-seat occupants and the wind deflector, it’s one or the other. We know which we would choose. The wind deflector works very well in, well, deflecting the wind.

Standard in the A5 are neck-level warmers in the front seats (not on the S5 though due to the fancy sports seats), which work a treat, unless it is a severely windy day. Their impact was muted a little because of the weather, but in calmer patches, it provided a nice blast of warm air.

Audi has designed a very clever multi-layered fabric roof that somehow manages to keep a surprising amount of noise out of the cabin. It has got to be the quietest convertible we have experienced, although we are sure something like a Rolls-Royce Dawn would probably beat it in that department.

The performance of the 2.0 TFSI Quattro is, unsurprisingly, solid with the 185kW/370Nm turbo four-pot delivering quick acceleration from a standing start, and paired with the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission, smooth, linear performance.

Given the wintry conditions, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system came in handy on the windy roads and occasionally unsealed roads, with the A5 maintaining its grip even on patches of road that resembled a river.

There is a real peace of mind that comes with driving a car with AWD, as well as the obvious performance benefits. When it was dry, the A5 Cab takes corners with blissful ease, while retaining the fun factor.

Thankfully the ride quality of the Cab is on the comfortable side, despite the sporty suspension set up. Slowly but surely the Europeans seem to be figuring out a way to have both!The engine note from the blown four-pot engine is also rather lovely.

Towards the end of the day we had a quick blast in the S5, which carries a near $25,000 premium over the 2.0 TFSI Quattro, but the extra styling flourishes, interior S line additions and that lovely 260kW/500Nm V6 turbocharged engine – not to mention the $14k worth of extras compared with the old S5 – mean it is money well spent.

The punchy inline performance is matched with a terrific exhaust note and smile-inducing cornering ability. We will leave our impressions of the S5 for a full review but initial impressions are good. Very good.

Overall, Audi has done a cracking job in ensuring all of the positive attributes of the A5 Coupe are not lost in translation with the Cabriolet.

On top of the solid performance, well-balanced ride, excellent road manners and segment-leading cabin, the A5 has well thought out Cabriolet-specific features that enhance the experience of owning a drop-top and that is something that lovers of top-down motoring will appreciate.

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