Top down touring
The new Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolets arrive in Australia just in time for summer.
8 September, 2017
To the motoring purist, there is nothing to rival the sheer freedom of open-top motoring. That added dimension of being at one with the outdoors is difficult to describe, but it nevertheless enhances the entire driving experience.
For a country with a climate like Australia, the appeal of the convertible increases exponentially, and with the arrival of the A5 and S5 Cabriolets just as the seasons change to spring, there are few better places to put the new Audi Cabriolets through their paces.
The elegant nose retains the single frame grille but it is set lower, with standard LED headlights and a sharper shoulder line along the flanks, which warrants setting the rear vision mirror to keep it in view.
Sporting the traditional soft top – now standard with layers of insulation – the new A5 Cabriolet cuts an elegant swathe through traffic.
The roof can be dropped in 15 seconds or reinstated in 18, at speeds of up to 50km/h – with a one-touch function while underway – while retaining 320 litres of luggage space, increasing to 380 litres with the roof up.
Cabin space has improved via a 14mm extension of the wheelbase, part of a 47mm increase in length.
The use of aluminium and ultra-high strength steel helps cut weight by 40kg while becoming 40 percent stiffer, meaning there’s no flexing and the five-link independent front and rear suspension can be tuned more accurately.
"Audi’s new A5 and S5 Cabriolet is now longer, lighter, roomier and more aggressively styled than the previous models."
"That’s enough to reach 100km/h in 7.9 seconds and onto a 238km/h top speed, while still claiming a frugal 5.9 litres per 100km."
The engine line-up offers a choice of three petrol power plants, with the $83,400 entry-level model powered by a 2.0-litre direct and indirect injection turbocharged variable-valve four-cylinder with 140kW and 320Nm of torque on offer. That’s enough to reach 100km/h in 7.9 seconds and onto a 238km/h top speed, while still claiming a frugal 5.9 litres per 100km.
The features list includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, satellite navigation, the virtual cockpit instrument panel, full smartphone integration with Bluetooth, two USB inputs and in-car Wi-Fi, a 10-speaker sound system with digital radio, leather-trimmed power-adjustable heated front seats with neck vents, tri-zone climate control and folding heated exterior mirrors.
Selecting the $95,000 quattro model brings with it 185kW of power and 370Nm – 100km/h is achieved in 6.3 seconds, with fuel use at 6.7 litres per 100km and on to a governed top speed of 250km/h.
Both engines are teamed with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with the quattro model’s CV includes 19 inch alloys, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, multi-colour adjustable interior ambient lighting, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and a memory function for the driver’s seat.
The options list is populated by packs of gear – S-Line Style and Sport packages range in price from $2500 to $7400, depending on the model.
An Assistance pack adds (among other things) active cruise control, collision prevention assist, lane departure warning and automatic high beam, as well as a Technik pack that includes a head-up display, the clever Matrix LED headlights and a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
The S5 Cabriolet is priced from $119,111 and is powered by a new 3.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged V6 with 260kW (up by 15kW) and a 60Nm increase to 500Nm of torque, with an eight-speed automatic sending drive to all four wheels.
There’s enough impetus to reach 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and yet still drink at a rate of just 7.9 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle.
The self-locking centre differential apportions drive according to the conditions – 60 percent goes to the rear and 40 per cent to the front under normal conditions, but as much as 70 percent can be sent to the front wheels or 85 percent can head to the rear when required.
The S5 comes standard with the adaptive dampers – controlled through the drive select system – as well as an S-Line sports steering wheel, adaptive dampers, high beam and auto-park assist, adaptive cruise control and collision avoidance system, 360-degree cameras, Nappa leather trim with pneumatic seat side bolster and massage system, heated seats front and rear and carbon cabin trim pieces.
The small convoy of cabriolets took to the metropolitan roads with little fanfare, quickly demonstrating the refined ride quality that would be a hallmark of the drive.
The quattro model quickly showed off the flexible nature of its power delivery, rarely requiring a lower ratio from the seven-speed gearbox unless demanded by the driver for aural amusement.
The shapely four-seater easily accommodates adults, with a removable wind blocker in place where rear passengers reside.
"There’s enough impetus to reach 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and yet still drink at a rate of just 7.9 litres per 100km on the ADR combined cycle."
"Slipping smoothly down the off-ramp and onto the country backroads, the ride quality remained unruffled by the temperamental road surface."
Freeway speeds did little beyond ruffling what is left of the author’s hair, but even with the see-through screen dropped, the wind speed within the cabin was well short of the freeway road speed.
A well-shaped boot-space took our luggage and even with the roof stowed, there was enough space for a weekend’s worth of luggage.
Slipping smoothly down the off-ramp and onto the country backroads, the ride quality remained unruffled by the temperamental road surface.
As the roads narrowed and the corners become more frequent, the sportier side of the A5 Cabriolet shines through – the strong chassis holds firm as the sharp and well-weighted steering points the front into the bends, dismissing mid-corner intrusions with indifference.
Occasional inclement turns of the weather meant the quattro system came to the fore, allowing ample pace to be maintained.
Step into the S5 Cabriolet and its sporting intent is immediately apparent – sports bucket seats and the chunky steering wheel, as well as subtle but effective additions to the exterior (including quad exhausts) all point to extra pace.
With performance credentials that nearly match the previous model RS 5, the new S5 Cabriolet effortlessly covers ground with a delightful quad-exhaust accompaniment to the swift pace.
Ride quality from the adaptive damper equipped suspension is a revelation given the cornering prowess and the poise of the handsome convertible while devouring a great drive is destined to see its popularity soar.
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