As the third member of the A5 family, you could be forgiven for thinking that the cabriolet range is somehow an afterthought, or lesser than its two- and five-door fixed roof siblings.
That’s not the case though - the reason for the soft top’s later introduction stems more as a result of predicted sales rather than being any kind of late addition.
Roughly one in ten A5 and S5 sales will be a cabriolet variant, granting it a level of exclusivity in a field with relatively few competitors: Mercedes-Benz and BMW build comparable rivals, Lexus and Infiniti used to but no longer do, and Jaguar has no answer nor has it ever.
As the latest Audi to hit Aussie roads, TMR drove the new A5 Cabriolet From Adelaide to McLaren Vale and along the Fleurieu peninsula to put it through the type of weekend escapism that continues to attract lifestyle-focussed buyers to convertibles instead of making the switch to more fashionable SUVs.
Vehicle Style: Midsized Cabriolet
Price: $83,400 - $95,000 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 140kW/320Nm or 185kW/370Nm 2.0 litre 4cyl turbo-petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economoy Claimed: 5.9 or 6.7 l/100km
Audi will offer just two A5 Cabriolet models in Australia, starting with a front-wheel-drive entry model, or a more powerful and better equipped all-wheel-drive model. There’s also a sporty version - the S5 - but it stands on its own as a part of Audi’s performance range.
Buyers of the entry level 2.0 TFSI aren’t left wanting for much - with 140kW and 320Nm from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, the base model accelerates with vigour and standard features like a five-layer acoustic roof, neck-level heating, satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay compatibility mean there’s no feeling of missing out.
Those seeking a little more verve will find the 2.0 TFSI quattro a better fit thanks to 185kW and 370Nm from an uprated 2.0-litre petrol engine, plus added equipment.
Pricing doesn’t vary too far from previous levels, kicking off from $83,400 before on-road costs for the base model, or $95,000 (plus ORC) for the quattro - a small bump up on the previous generation, but offset by added standard features.
Audi’s most recent interior design really focusses on the idea of modern luxury, resulting in a contemporary design finished in slick modern materials. The A5 Cabriolet range shares its interior design with the coupe and Sportback, which in turn borrow from the A4 sedan and wagon.
Obviously to facilitate the folding fabric roof some details have changes, most noticeably in the rear seats which aren’t as wide as those of the A5 coupe, but compared with the outgoing model there’s an extra 18mm of rear legroom, though headroom remains the same.
Audi suggests that the A5 Cabriolet contains four full-sized seats, and provided you fall under the ‘average’ height mark that’s believable, though taller rear seat passengers may find the individual rear seats less accomodating, along with the lack of visibility with the top up.
The roof itself can be dropped in just 15 seconds or re-closed in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h - something I was able to put to the test in the midst of a sudden downpour leaving Adelaide. Every second counts in a situation like that.
With the roof in place the interior is quieter than the previous model when fitted with the then-optional acoustic roof (now standard) and Audi has even gone so far as to equip the new model with rear map lights in the headlining.
Both variants come standard with Audi’s virtual cockpit instrument cluster display screen, a head up display, Audi MMI media interface with Apple CarPlay, plus leather trim, a three-zone climate control system that remembers top-up and top-down settings, and one-touch opening for the roof.
Cargo space in the boot can’t hope to match the regular coupe, but is still large enough to fit in a decent haul of luggage and the interior retains its usual storage space in the centre console which is quite decently sized, but not entirely blocked from prying eyes.
ON THE ROAD
Vitally, for a convertible, the structure beneath the sleek sheetmetal has been made both stiffer and lighter for this new generation with a 40 percent improvement in rigidity which is welcomed compared to the last A5 Cabriolet and its, at-times, noticeable body flex.
The new model behaves with far greater composure over challenging roads, with excellent body control across corrugations and mid-corner bumps. There’s still a hint of movement from the windscreen frame occasionally, but its so minimal that few will notice.
Unfortunately there wasn’t an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the 140kW front wheel drive 2.0 TFSI, leaving the more powerful quattro model as the star of the launch drive, and with Audi suggesting that variant will be its top-seller it’s not hard to see why.
Thanks to a weight increase due to additional body reinforcement the A5 2.0 TFI quattro cabriolet can’t hope to match its coupe sibling, but with a 0-100 km/h sprint of 6.3 seconds it’s certainly slightly enough.
Drive is channeled to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch automatic with refinement of the highest order and none of the low-speed nerves that characterise this type of transmission in lower-output applications.
Pin the throttle from standstill and the A5 2.0 TFSI Cabriolet can hesitate for a moment before flexing its muscle, which can provide a brief moment of panic if trying to pull away from a busy intersection in a rush, but the rolling acceleration more than makes up for it, once it hits its stride.
Wind noise is well managed with the top down - it’s easy and comfortable to cruise at just shy of 100 km/h and maintain a conversation, and with the standard collapsible wind-blocker in place the cabin becomes eerily quiet and almost entirely draft-free.
Raise the roof and noise suppression is impressive - although some surfaces under the quattro’s low-profile 19-inch tyres can create a low hum that seems to bounce off the well-insulated roof. Wind noise poses no real problem, and even in blustery conditions there was little intrusion.
Audi Drive Select allows drivers to pick Comfort, Dynamic, or Eco drive modes, or tailor their own mix and match steering, throttle, transmission, and adaptive suspension settings, while an Auto mode can take care of settings as it sees fit.
With secure all-paw traction, even on wet and greasy roads, the A5 quattro certainly reinforced its all-weather suitability, and on dryer stretches of road with Dynamic mode engaged the A5 Cabriolet even showed more than a glimmer of enthusiast appeal, although the coupe still remains the purist’s choice.
With a new, more voluptuous styling signature the A5 misses some of the visual restraint of its predecessor, which doesn’t agree with all eyes, but there’s no doubt Audi’s excellent fit and finish are instantly apparent when seeing this new drop-top in the metal.
Those buyers that can’t be without the space of a four-seater and the lure of touch-of-a-button sunshine are sure to find a highly appealing package, with added refinement and comfort a worthwhile step forward compared to the previous generation.
As far as extravagant purchases go, there’s certainly more outlandish automotive aspirations on offer - but like the timelessness of a classic little black dress, the Audi A5 Cabriolet manages to deliver timeless appeal with a degree of liveability.
MORE: 2018 Audi S5 Cabriolet First Drive Review
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