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Car reviews - Audi - A5 - RS5 Cabriolet

Our Opinion

We like
V8’s sound, performance, and feel, roomy interior, practical boot, refinement with the roof-up, quality overall presentation
Room for improvement
Expensive, harsh ride, scuttle shake, 2007-era interior, costly options

25 Oct 2013

AUDI’S RS5 Coupe won’t go down in history as one of the company’s all-time greats, despite some wonderful traits.

A brittle ride and a lack of steering feedback detract from better qualities such as top-shelf design, quality, performance, security, and solidity.

Falling between stools, it has thus lived in the shadow of the supernaturally gifted BMW M3 (and to a lesser extent, the mighty Mercedes AMG C 63) coupes.

On the face of it, lopping the RS5’s roof and then compensating for the structural losses with over 200kg of stiffening and strengthening isn’t going to change this – but stop and consider the cabriolet’s unique position in the market first, and take the whole four-seater ultra-performance convertible concept in the equation.

The BMW M3 Convertible is ageing and the M4 convertible is a while away yet, while Benz doesn’t even offer a C63 ragtop. Nor does the Infiniti G or Lexus IS C for that matter. Advantage Audi.

Yes, those notable weak spots from the coupe remain, indeed the harsh ride is more noticeable with the open top, especially when your teeth are chattering in concert with the occasionally wobbly windscreen and rattling interior trim.

We wish the talented boffins at quattro GmbH that mastermind and manufacture the RS5 and all its other siblings could again match the all-round greatness of the all-too short-lived previous-gen (B7-series) RS4 sedan and Avant of 2006/7 in this regard.

But the complaints largely stop there, meaning potential buyers with around $200K burning a whole in their back pockets could do worse than visiting their Audi dealers for an RS5 Cabrio meet-‘n-greet, because the reality is that this RS does some things magnificently.

Secondly, the RS5 Cabrio is one handsomely menacing-looking macho machine. It’s getting on a bit, perhaps showing a few wrinkles here and there, but there is no denying the thuggish appeal of that pumped-up stance and pimped-out detailing. You don’t BS with the RS.

Thirdly, the Audi’s bombastic atmo V8 soundtrack will make your spirits soar in direct proportion to its thrusting performance on offer, to provide a unique pleasure activity that every one of the RS5’s passengers can get drunk on. You’ll never tire of it.

Speaking of which, you can imagine that – with its ample space for four occupants backed up by a reasonably sized boot – the Cabrio is dangerously close to being a practical everyday proposition.

If you think we’re as high as the RS5 Cabrio’s asking price, consider this: with its phenomenal dry-weather roadholding overshadowed by gob-smacking wet-weather quattro-controlled grip, which 331kW/430Nm performance convertible would you rather be in when the heavens are pouring, snow is falling, or ice is forming all around you with your family on board?The Audi might loosen everybody on board’s fillings on far too many Aussie road surfaces, but its unique all-wheel drive handling means it rarely puts a foot wrong. Towering stability with this much power and torque are attributes few can approach – let alone match.

Finally, there is the company’s famous trademark interior design nous that makes every one of its opponents’ efforts feel flat-pack furniture cheapo by comparison. Let’s face it, nobody’s interior for the money provides the same visual, tactile and olfactory titivations as the cars from Ingolstadt.

So, assessed from these Pollyanna perspectives, it is clear that the RS5 Cabrio actually is in a class of its own one could even argue that the RS5 Cabrio is really a cut-price alternative to something like a Jaguar XKR Convertible ($233K), Maserati GranCabrio ($328,000), or even a Bentley Continental GTC ($407K).

Wow, what a bargain then! It is such a joy to be able to justify an RS Audi’s place in the world. We ought to be grateful somebody is bothering to brighten up the place with something so obviously semi-unhinged.

But there is no escaping the fundamental faults that plague the Audi – notably that overly hard ride, weird steering feel, and shaky body – so, please, try before you buy on the roads you are most likely to drive.

If it still passes muster, and you can afford one, then the RS5’s all-too obvious grates will pale against the many virtues the Cabrio so obviously possesses, to turn it into something quite rare and special.

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