Good looks with roof up or down
Following on from the introduction of the A5 Coupe model, Audi has unveiled the Cabriolet version. Featuring a folding soft-top in order to keep weight to a minimum, the A5 Cabriolet boasts a range of powerful yet frugal engines, two and four-wheel drive platforms and a range of transmissions to bolster options for potential drivers.
Audi's new A5 Cabriolet not only joins the original A5 Coupe to add another dimension to the two-door executive sports model range, it also serves as a replacement for the A4 Cabriolet. The similarities are obvious: both are a similar size, both use a canvas roof and both employ a two-door, four-seat layout. However, the A5, having been introduced as a two-door coupe, carries with it sporting pretensions not necessarily equated with the four-door saloon A4, and lends itself more naturally to the cabriolet body style.
A real head turner with the rood up or down, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is still capable of seating four adults with a decent size boot. Unlike some, but not all, of its competitors Audi continues to opt for a canvas roof instead of a tin-top with the aim of saving weight and space. Another advantage to the lighter roof is that it can be opened and closed while on the move, and the German manufacturer claims that the three-layer roof offers refinement nearly on par with the coupe model.
At launch, the A5 Cabriolet will be available with a choice of three engines, with more to follow. A 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit, naturally aspirated 3.2-litre V6 petrol unit and a 3.0-litre diesel will be available, the latter with four-wheel drive as standard and the others with Quattro as an option. The range of transmissions is equally diverse, with manual, automatic or CVT available depending on engine choice.
Inside, much will be familiar from the A5 Coupe range, with the same high quality materials and finish that have made Audi a premium manufacturer to be reckoned with in recent years.
A great all-round package, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is a worthy addition to the German manufacturer's constantly expanding range. A stunner with the roof up or down, it's a more attractive design than the A4 Cabriolet that it replaces while retaining the usability of its predecessor. The 2.0-litre engine offers ample performance alongside impressive economy, and the model features the premium quality buyers have come to expect form the brand.
Despite the impressive power and performance the A5 Cabriolet engine range remains remarkably efficient thanks to some high end technologies such as direct injection. 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.
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.
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. Off-centre foot pedals are the only downside; they can lead to a slightly unnatural seating position.
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 and the interiors have a relaxed feel that's easy to get comfortable in. 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.
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.
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.
Driving appeal is always high on the Audi agenda, and the A5 Cabriolet delivers the usual mixture of compliance, sportiness and performance. The turbocharged, direct injection 2.0-litre engine is the least powerful petrol in the range but still delivers an impressive turn of speed. Although a smooth performer, the engine has enough power to create a little torque steer under hard acceleration in the front-wheel drive model, something that's not an issue in the Quattro models. The steering weight is sporty and satisfying and the driving position generally excellent, with the exception of slightly skewed foot pedals.
The rear seats will accept two children, so the A5 Cabriolet is not completely without its uses as a family vehicle. Realistically it is more likely to be driven by those whose children have flown the nest, or with none at all.
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.
Audi's image is on the rise, 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 are excellent, giving a genuinely luxurious feel and ambience.
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.
There's no shortage of power from the ten-speaker system that's standard on the upper two trim levels, but even the base model comes with a six-speaker ""concert"" system including a colour screen and SD card slot. The additional colour screens for the Driver information System in the upper models are excellent and the sat-nav, where specified, is a cutting edge system that's a pleasure to use.
As per usual with Audi models and German cars in general, 'executive' styling is the order of the day, meaning lots of silvers, greys and dark metallic shades interspersed with the odd bolder solid shade. Roof colours of black, blue brown or red liven things up a little, and the A5 Cabriolet looks particularly good in white. Additional interior and exterior trim comes with the upper trim levels. The S Line model gets leather, brushed aluminium, a black headlining and a body kit amongst other additions.
Rear visibility naturally 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 only missing from the base model, and the turning circle is quite impressive for a front-wheel drive car.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (208bhp); 3.2-litre (261bhp); 3.0-litre (328bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (167bhp); 2.7-litre (187bhp); 3.0-litre (236bhp). 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, 3.2-litre, standard for 3.0-litre). Trim levels: Standard, SE, S Line.