Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI S line

December 2011

picture of car from the front

Subtle revisions add to handsome looks


Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 8Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 9Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


  • Smartened appearance makes most of still-fresh shape
  • Roof can be operated up to 31mph
  • Smooth and powerful diesel engine
  • Refinement impressive roof up or down


  • Rear seats best for occasional use only
  • Dark roof lining adds to enclosed feel of cabin
  • Two-wheel drive models can torque-steer under heavy acceleration
  • Occasional scuttle shake over bumpy roads in big-wheeled versions

Following an overhaul of the still-young Audi A5 Coupe, a host of similar changes have been applied to the Cabriolet model. Designed to increase its appeal with an updated engine range, mechanical tweaks under the skin and specification enhancements the A5 Cabriolet promises better performance and fuel economy whilst maintaining the luxury feel essential for a premium priced drop-top model.

Audi's updated A5 Cabriolet joins the Coupe and Sportback in the A5 range, which sits above the A4 which comes only in more mainstream saloon and Avant guises. Despite sharing basic underpinnings with its smaller stablemate, the A5 in all guises brings an increased sense of style and luxury to the mid-sized premium segment.

Already an attractive car with the rood up or down, the Audi A5 Cabriolet benefits from a number of exterior updates shared across the range. Most notable is the updated grille already seen on the larger A7 that gives more presence to the front of the car. Subtle changes to the bumpers, lights and rear light clusters are relatively modest but the overall effect is a car that looks thoroughly up to date.

Arguably the most important changes are under the bonnet, where the engine range has been thoroughly updated. The 3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol model has been replaced by a lower-power version of the supercharged 3.0-litre TFSI unit that appears in the S5 models, while the 2.7-litre TDI model is replaced by a new 3.0-litre version. Both of these new engines offer considerably improvements in terms of performance, economy and emissions.

Further mechanical refinements include changes to the damper settings and suspension bushes for greater control and comfort, while the power steering has been updated to an electromechanical system that only requires power when the wheel is turned, thus increasing fuel efficiency. Stop start is now also standard across all engine variants, contributing to the substantial cut in emissions.

Our verdict on the Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI S line

The A5 Cabriolet was already a strong competitor in this segment but the latest updates have further cemented its position as a leading contender. The sharper looks are welcome while the driving experience is much enhanced with the most up-to-date diesel power unit, and the cabin refinements only add to its broad appeal.

Costs rating 7

Despite the impressive power and performance the A5 Cabriolet engine range remains remarkably efficient thanks to some high end technologies such as direct injection, stop/start and electromechanical power steering. The resulting respectable fuel consumption figures lower the running costs, tax bandings and BIK duties. Even so, purchase prices for the models reflect Audi's premium status and insurance ratings will not favour everyone. Strong residual values will ease some of the pain.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

The cabin feels cosy with the roof in place and the high centre divide also contributes to a not unpleasant sense of confinement in the front seats. The rear seats will accommodate adults over longer periods and headroom is in good supply courtesy of the low seating position. The boot is of an excellent size for a car of this nature, but is impinged upon with the roof folded.

picture of car from the rear

Revised taillights and reprofiled bumpers feature at the rear

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 9

With a vast array of functions to be controlled, Audi has ensured the A5 Cabriolet interior is not overwhelming for the driver. Centre console controls are angled slightly towards the driver and knobs and switches for the stereo, sat-nav and menu navigation are positioned next to the gear lever for ultimate ease of use. The user interface is easily mastered and the colour screens feature high quality graphics. The chunky steering wheel also boasts a spattering of controls, while the dials are clear and easy to read.

Comfort Rating 8

Even on the firmer suspension settings of the S Line models, the Audi A5 Cabriolet still offers a comfortable basic ride. The chassis is firm enough to counter any excessive scuttle shake, although very poor roads will induce this unwanted intrusion. Standard equipment for the upper trim level includes three-zone climate control and quality leather. The addition of a wind deflector, standard on SE models upwards, makes a lots of difference to the interior ambience with the roof down. With the roof in place exterior noise is well damped, more so with the additional soundproofing of the S Line model.

Car security
Security Rating 7

A top-rated alarm and immobiliser keep an eye on the vehicle in the owner's absence and, naturally, remote central locking and automatic boot locking is standard. The canvas roof will never be as secure as a metal hardtop however, even if it is well insulated.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

ESP is standard across the range and models featuring Audi's Quattro four-wheel drive system are extra secure on the road. Isofix points are present for all passenger seats, while front and front-side airbags offer an additional safety net. Automatic lights and wipers aid safety as well as convenience and LED running lamps for the S Line model plus standard rear LEDs look good and are highly visible.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Only a few years ago the notion of a diesel cabriolet would be dismissed, but the new 3.0-litre TDI unit is a perfect marriage. It provides both refined and effortless cruising as well as a sharp turn of speed when required, and the multi-cylinder unit provides an enthusiastic tone when stretched, although it will never be as melodic as a conventional petrol. The suspension tweaks may be minor but the A5 responds keenly, feels composed and strikes a good balance between ride and handling.

picture of car interior

High quality cabin is better than ever

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 5

The rear seats will accept two children, so the A5 Cabriolet is not completely without its uses as a family vehicle, although taller teenagers will find the amount of room inadequate for longer journeys. There is also the hassle-factor of a three-door car, even if more able kids will be able to squeeze through the gap in a flash.

First car appeal
First car Rating 3

Few young drivers will be fortunate enough to be able to consider the A5 Cabriolet a sensible first car choice. Its executive status comes with an executive price tag and high performance engines will make it difficult to insure for the inexperienced driver.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

Audi is maintaining its quest for ever-higher levels of quality, and the new A5 Cabriolet will do little to harm it. Every bit as easy on the eye as the coupe model it has plenty of kerb appeal. Build quality is exceptional, with a feeling of solidity and robustness from the driver's seat. Materials and finish is of a very high order and will provide the luxury feel that buyers in this segment are looking for.

Accessibility Rating

Naturally, accessing the rear seats is a more arduous task than using those in the front, but the A5 Cabriolet's long doors mean it's still possible to squeeze into the back without too much fuss. The down side to long doors is that they cannot be opened very wide in tight parking spaces. A decent roof line poses no problems for front seat access, and the boot lid offers a respectable portal into the boot space.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The MMI-Plus system which is likely to be the most common choice has been upgraded with fewer buttons to control it, while the voice control and digital radio reception have been tweaked for improved performance. Better still, the A5 Cabriolet can now be specified with the Google on-line services, providing Google Earth images to the sat-nav and allowing the car to be used as a wireless hotspot for up to six devices, giving it a high level of functionality which should please even the most discerning customer.

picture of car in detail

New diesel engine is the pick of the range

Colours and trim

Unlike many of its rivals the A5 Cabriolet wears bold colours pretty well, especially red which could easily appear too strong given the car's size and status. Inside the interior updates significantly enhance the premium feel, particularly the extra chrome detailing and the higher-quality buttons for the Multi Media Interface layout. A wider choice of trims also allows greater personalisation, even as far as a choice of finished for the hood exterior.


Rear visibility inevitably suffers with the roof in place, but decent size mirrors aid reversing manoeuvres and the long, uniformly shaped body is not difficult to position. Parking sensors are either standard or available on most models, while the highest-spec parking aid includes a rear-view camera for total ease of parking.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.8-litre (168bhp); 2.0-litre (208bhp); 3.0-litre (268bhp and 328bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (175bhp); 3.0-litre (201bhp and 242bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, Multitronic CVT gearbox with eight-speed manual override, seven-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission with manual override, Quattro four-wheel drive (option for 2.0-litre petrol, standard for 3.0-litre diesel and petrol). Trim levels: Standard, SE, S Line.


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December 2011