Audi is making a strong lifestyle statement with its latest drop-top stars, writes KEVIN HEPWORTH
GETTING your top off in summer is as German as Oktoberfest and this year Audi will be leading the way with a pair of drop-top beauties.
The A5 and S5 cabriolets, launched in Europe this week, will arrive Down Under just in time for the warmer weather to add to the four-ringed circus that is Audi’s ever-expanding model range.
Arriving in four trims— three A5 models and a range-topping S5, each with a single engine, drivetrain and transmission choice — the A5 and S5 range replaces the existing three A4 cabriolets from the third quarter of this year.
‘‘This will be an important ‘image driver’ for Audi,’’ Audi Australia boss Joerg Hofmann says.
‘‘It’s an aspirational vehicle, with very strong design cues and added to the styling is the top-down motoring experience that gives a real ‘lifestyle vehicle’ status.’’
At launch the A5 cabriolets will be offered with two petrol engines — a 2.0 TFSI with 155kW and 350Nm and the 3.2-litre naturally aspirated V6 with 195kW and 330Nm — plus a class-leading 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel with 176kW and 500Nm. All models will come standard with quattro all-wheel drive and the seven-speed S-tronic automated manual gearbox.
For the S5, which is expected to arrive about November, the powerplant is the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with 245kW and 440Nm and again is coupled to the quattro all-wheel drive and S-tronic gearbox.
Just how much the new cabriolets will set you back will not be announced until closer to launch, with Audi Australia saying only that pricing will be competitive with the car’s rivals.
BMW’s 325i cabriolet starts at just over $100,000 and rises to close to $130,000 for the six-cylinder 335i.
There is a feel about the A5 and S5 cabriolets that is not common to this style of car — certainly not to the A4 it replaces. Your immediate sensation is not one of space compromised, rather it feels more like the mid-sized coupe from which it has grown.
The twin sculptured rear seats, though not limousine-generous, are certainly useable for most adults and a not unpleasant place to be for more than a quick run down to the local restaurant.
Audi has not wasted the advantage a soft-top roof offers for efficient stowage. With the rear seats folded— they are 50:50 split released from inside the boot — the cars can take a 1.76m-long load and swallow an impressive 750 litres of luggage.
The test cars on the European launch drive were all specified up to the max, with the acoustic roof linings, drive-select active suspension and dynamic steering making it difficult to say how the basic package will perform.
However, as presented, the 2.0 TFSI was a delight to drive. Ride quality is exceptional, composed and compliant, and the steering, though light, remains direct and nicely communicative.
There is no hint of scuttle shake, albeit on roads that were generally well surfaced and at speeds restricted by heavy weekend traffic.