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Car reviews - Audi - A5 - S5 Cabriolet

Our Opinion

We like
Great design inside and out, sweet and powerful supercharged V6 engine’s economy over S5 Coupe’s V8, slick gearbox, comfort and space inside
Room for improvement
Some scuttle shake, perhaps a little too smooth and refined?

Audi logo15 Dec 2009

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

AUDI’S beautiful S5 Cabriolet inhabits that tiny niche where rich people want their expensive hair dos/pieces pummelled while burning to a crisp in their quest for an all-round tan.

It may seem like a mobile sadomasochistic machine, but the reality is that the S5 Cabriolet is sweet and soothing enough to feel like you are also being injected by a steady drip of morphine at the same time.

So while your reality is tinged with a dream-like shimmering to match the oh-so-lightly scuttle shake of the windscreen ahead (no amount of body bonding can compensate for that missing roof structure – particularly on a car shod with 18-inch rubber), there simply is no displeasure at all surrounding the S5 Cabriolet.

Stylistically, Audi has created a stunningly well proportioned machine in the A5 Cabriolet that easily beats the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes E-class and Lexus IS 250 C convertibles hands-down for design), and the S5 doesn’t let the good-looking genetics down.

It’s all about restrained “sportif” as the Germans might say, with the S5 Coupe’s altered grille, quad pipes, integrated spoilers and LED lights giving the Cabrio version a bit of visual verve.

That’s been taken care of with the second application of the S4 sedan’s supercharged V6 petrol powerplant.

Silky and smooth yet very strong from low revs all the way to the rev line, this 245kW/440Nm 3.0-litre might be down a few kilowatts compared to the S5 Coupe’s 260kW/440Nm V8’s power output, but it is 25 per cent less thirsty and virtually as forceful in real-life conditions – taking into account the hefty 200kg-odd weight penalty that going topless brings on.

Aiding motion is a slick new seven-speed DSG – err, sorry, ‘S-tronic’ – dual-clutch DSG gearbox, underpinned by a proper Torsen Differential quattro all-wheel-drive system with a 60 per cent torque bias going out to the back wheels, for more balanced steering, handling and ride characteristics.

With only a 50km loop to test this theory, we cannot give you a definitive dynamic synopsis for the S5 Cabriolet, but scuttle shake aside, and the suspension setting in normal mode in the absolutely mandatory $6900 Audi Drive Select package fitted to our test car, the four-seater ragtop proved to be a competent cornerer, sharp braker and enthusiastic gripper of the road surface.

But who cares anyway? It is sweet, swift and comfortable, and features an impressively well-insulated fabric roof that not only doesn’t rob you of boot space as the BMW and Lexus’ folding hardtops do, but also falls and erects again in 15 and 17 seconds flat respectively.

And you can do that doing up to 50km/h, while driving at more than double that speed is easy with the roof tucked down neatly in its box because the Cabrio’s occupants are not constantly buffeted by wind or road noise. Of course, with a press of just one button, all four side windows raise for even more sun-soaked civility.

Couple all that with a sumptuously presented cabin, lovely suede-like seat trim, and plenty of standard features, and we believe that Audi should not have much trouble selling every S5 Cabrio it can get hold of.

Looks matter plenty in this end of the luxury convertible market, and this car ticks all the right boxes with competency and class.

And so who cares how bad your hair or skin looks out there in the elements when your wheels are as pretty as this?

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