With or without its roof, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER says Audi’s new A5 Cabriolet is a fabulous looking car, which is just as good to drive as it is to look at.
BUYING a convertible car today isn’t as simple as it once used to be – there are some difficult choices to be made.
The dilemma comes in the roof department – would you prefer a hard one or a soft one? Many of the latest crop of cars with folding roofs have chosen the hard-top option, which is fine from a security viewpoint, but the downside can often be a rather bulbous, disproportionate rear end which becomes necessary to swallow the rear window roof section.
With its beautifully designed A5 Cabriolet, Audi chose to keep faith with the soft top option, thereby avoiding the aesthetic issues of a tin top.
As a buyer, what you get therefore, is a perfectly proportioned four-seat convertible that looks perfect, regardless of whether the roof is in place or not.
Changing from one to the other can be done in a mere 15 seconds, and better still, it can be done on the move, and all at the press of a button on the centre console, with no levers or catches to worry about.
It never ceases to amaze me how all the little flaps and compartments are perfectly synchronised to make the roof disappear, and in this car, there are even courtesy lights for rear seat passengers which disappear with the roof into a compartment behind the rear seats.
Unlike models with a folding hard top which fills most of the luggage area when the top is down, the A5 benefits from a usable boot space, regardless of whether or not the roof is required to keep the weather out – so it definitely scores on the practicality front as well.
Pressing a separate button, positioned near the roof switch, will raise or lower all the side windows at the same time, and on the occasions you don’t have people in back pews, which are large enough to accommodate two adults comfortably, a wind deflector which comes as part of the car’s standard kit, fits quickly and easily across the top of the rear seats. It makes a big difference at higher speeds, almost completely neutralising the buffeting and draughts you get around your elbows without it in place.
There is a good choice of engines, ranging from a 1.8-litre petrol unit through to 2.0, 3.2-litre petrols, or 2.0, 2.7 or 3.0-litre diesel engines, with a 3-litre V6 unit the power under the rapid S5 model’s bonnet.
With the roof up, some exterior noise does make itself heard inside the car, but less so than in some of its competitors, and to make things even quieter, Audi offers an optional acoustic top with an intermediate layer of insulating foam to reduce wind noise even further.
When you get into the front of the car, little arms extend from the B post to save you having to reach around for the seat belts, which is a nice touch.
The A5 Cabriolet drives very well and because it was designed as a convertible from the outset, there is very little scuttle shake noticable. The shaking that afflicts many topless cars and is recognisable by the vibration seen on the header rail, near the rear view mirror, only makes its presence felt on the roughest of our pot-holed streets.
The 2.0 TFSI engine is impressively economical too, if driven gently, as I discovered on a trip back from Mira, in Warwickshire, where a brief eco-driving test inspired me to see what I could get out of the Audi. Driving carefully, but without trying too hard, the trip computer said the car had achieved an average of 49.2mpg, which for something with 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and a potential top speed of 150mph, is excellent in my book.
New stop and start technology helps maximise every gallon of our expensive fuel in town as well, switching off the engine as soon as the car comes to a halt at the traffic lights and the driver takes it out of gear. When the lights change, the car restarts the instant the clutch pedal is depressed. It seems a bit odd at first, but during my time with the car the system worked faultlessly.
As with the rest of its range, Audi has done a superb job with the A5 Cabriolet. It looks classy regardless of whether the roof is up or down, drives well, is comfortable, quick, and impressively economical. Now summer has arrived, it’s the perfect time to treat yourself.
Oh, and the Bang & Olufsen sound system is worth the extra £525 – it sounds superb!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI S line.
AUDI A5 CABRIOLET RANGE: From 1.8 TFSI (£27,605) to S5 quattro (£43,495).
ENGINE: 1984cc, 211PS four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 156g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 150mph. 0-62mph in 7.5 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 33.2mpg.
Fuel tank: 65 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 17.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.