Topless with Style – The New Audi A5

Topless with Style – The New Audi A5

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It’s hard to believe that the drop top A5 is only in its second generation. The truly four-seater convertible is something we know that Audi can do well – one just has to type in ‘Audi Cabriolet’ to get pictures of the famous canvas roofed variants from the late 1980s and 1990s. It’s a bit of a German specialism.

It’s all singing, all dancing for this new A5 then, and mechanically at first glance there’s nothing too dissimilar from the coupe version. It shares the interior, the quantity and quality of tech and the familiar Audi assurance of quality and refinement. The previous A5 convertible left many people a little wanting – so have Audi done enough to put the spirit back?

Appearance

The large, practical look of the Audi A5 suits the car – as larger proportions and a more swept look bring a refined approach to the range. It doesn’t look hugely different to the outgoing model, and its refreshing to see some simple design cues that draw elegant and striking lines. In the more vibrant reds and blues, it’s a dominant and classy looking car that turns heads.

It’s not just the appearance that’s changed with the body of the car though, and one of the important things about the new A5 Cabriolet is the fact that they’ve managed to chop up to 55kg off its weight. That’s an impressive figure – it’s a new aluminium/steel hybrid body that uses reworked suspension, a new start-stop system and a multi layered and surprisingly lightweight and easy to manage ‘acoustic hood.’

Inside, I found the cabin to be significantly improved over older Audis and the fantastic ‘Virtual Cockpit’ option is a brilliant addition – crystal clear gauges predominate and everything from the layout to the revised typography used for the switchgear has been well-thought out. Expensive, though – there’s a price you pay for design prowess in a four-seater cabrio. ‘Tech packs’ for base-line 2.0 FSI SE versions will set you back a bitg.

Delving deeper into the design, there’s innovative neck-warmers and bluetooth-mounted microphones particular to the cabriolet on offer, too.

Engines

Performance was always I felt a little bit of a sticking point for the A5 Cabriolet. Well regarded as a very competent cruiser, it’s never stuck out as a performance or ‘driver’s car’ vehicle of choice. There’s a good and wide engine line-up, however, and although I drove the diesel options primarily, if you’re not bashing the motorways the petrol is highly economically-inclined and benefits from the car’s reduced weight.

Entry level diesels produce just short of 190bhp, so there’s plenty of power on tap. There are the familiar 3.0 TDI’s to choose from too, as well as a very good 2.0 petrol, mentioned before. Upwards of there, it’s the S5 model, which I drove and really enjoyed. Not raw, but with tons of power topping out at 349bhp with a 0-60 time hovering on the 5.0 second mark. It’s pretty damn brisk, but it’s disappointing to know that you’ll never feel like you’re going that quickly. Nice engine note, though.

Driving & Handling

The driving style of the A5 cabriolet won’t set the world on fire. It’s not particularly exciting, but the added novelty of a truly four seater cabriolet, with smart folding roof, should be enough to tempt the right kind of buyers away from the Coupe version. Handling can be a little wallowy and vague, but comfort levels are superlative and dynamic ability is far better than the previous version, largely because of the decrease in weight.

There is a calm, languid nature about the car that suits it – it’s simply so incredibly refined that you can sometimes forget the sport heritage of the top down version of Audi’s cars. All engines have plenty of power, with the slowest being the 2.0 TDI at 8.3 to 60. It will get you more than 60 to the gallon, though, so from a driving point of view this engine makes a lot of sense. Of course, twinned with the 7-speed S tronic, it’s a relaxing delight on fast, sweeping A roads.

Price and Costs

There’s no getting away from the fact that the Audi A5 Cabriolet will make your bank manager spit out his tea. There’s an understated confidence here though that many will believe is worth the money – especially if you’ve spent more or less half the price of the car on some new golf clubs. The 2.0 diesel reviewed is the most frugal, and you’d expect at least 55mpg and a claimed 62mpg on the cycle. Expect a tad over 30 for the S5.

The cheapest of the cars is 2.0T FSI SE, which even then comes in at £35,000. Spec it up to echo the kind of car you’d want, and you’re looking at well into the 40s. The S5 tops out closer to £60,000, which is a huge amount of money for a car like this, despite the fact it’s likely to keep its value well. The popular models are priced competitively compared to the BMW 4-series and Mercedes C-Class Cabrio, but the more premium versions and the S5 are a good few grand more.

Summary

At first glance, the new A5 has all the right ingredients. It’s great to look at, has a huge amount of refinement and the new lightweight hood and little finishing touches to the cabriolet version sets the A5 away from the the Merc and BMW pack. There’s rumours of an RS5 Cabrio, which might interest me a little more with regards to outright performance, but generally the experience, build-quality, refined interior and range of powertrains and techy options are enough to ensure the A5 stays at the top of the convertible grand tourer list.

The good bits

It’s got a brilliant, comfortable and beautifully designed interior.
It’s sharp looking
A range of powerful engines
Immense practicality for a car of this type and is versatile
Refinement by the bucketload

The bad bits

It’s expensive
The S5 especially still feels a little empty – it still belongs on the motorway.
Nose heavy and wallowy higher-powered diesels

 

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