Audi’s star cabri­o­let act

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE race to get the top down for sum­mer is warm­ing up, as Audi joins Lexus with a new-sea­son cabri­o­let. The drop­top ver­sion of the A5 coupe has a tra­di­tional fold­ing soft­top, seats for four, class-lead­ing lug­gage space and a choice of en­gines, which in­cludes a diesel.

The A5 Cabri­o­let is built to Audi’s usual qual­ity stan­dard, weighs only 185kg more than coupe, and is priced from $94,900 with a 2.0-litre petrol mo­tor to $112,500 with a diesel and $116,500 for a fully loaded V6.

That’s a big hike on the Lexus IS Cabrio, from $79,900, but Audi Aus­tralia doesn’t ex­pect any trou­ble shift­ing plenty of its new sun­shine stars.

It sees the BMW 3-Se­ries as its only se­ri­ous op­po­si­tion.

Work on the Cabrio be­gan with the ba­sic A5 body, which was strength­ened in all the im­por­tant ar­eas in­clud­ing the base of the wind­screen and be­low the seats.

Audi de­cided early to go with a soft top, not one of the lat­est fold­ing metal de­signs, for a range of rea­sons.

‘‘There are lots of ben­e­fits. It is light, fast to open and close, and best in class for lug­gage,’’ Audi prod­uct plan­ning man­ager John Roberts says.

‘‘An­other ben­e­fit of fab­ric is we can have split-fold rear seats.’’

The top will op­er­ate up to 50km/h, un­like the Lexus, which must be sta­tion­ary, but Audi con­cedes the ex­tra noise in the sys­tem by hav­ing an ‘‘acous­tic’’ top with an ex­tra layer of sound­proof­ing as an op­tion and stan­dard on the V6.

The ba­sic deal with the 2.0-litre en­gine is 155kW, 17-inch al­loys, key­less start, rear park radar, shift pad­dles for the auto and xenon lamps; the V6 with 176kW lifts the bar with 18-inch al­loys, front park­ing radar, heated seats, sat­nav and wood in­serts.

All A5 Cabri­o­lets have a seven-speed twin­clutch gear­box and qu­at­tro all-wheel drive as stan­dard. THE A5 Cabri­o­let is a smooth op­er­a­tor.

The roof works smoothly in 17 sec­onds, the en­gines and trans­mis­sions are slick, the styling el­e­gantly ef­fec­tive and the qual­ity as smooth as we ex­pect from a new Audi.

Even­tu­ally, there will be an S5 Cabrio with more punch, but the diesel and V6 showed plenty of pace in a quick in­tro­duc­tion drive.

The best thing about the diesel, apart from it be­ing the only one in the class, is the strong surge of torque that makes driv­ing easy.

The cabin space is good and the boot is huge, with the ad­van­tage of the fold-down rear seats. It’s def­i­nitely a win­ner over the Lexus in that area.

But the Ja­panese car scores in the body. The Audi is rea­son­ably rigid but you feel the small­est rip­ples in the road and there is no en­cour­age­ment to go sports-car quick in the A5.

Still, few looking at the A5 Cabrio are likely to be chas­ing a sports-car thrill, and it’s a smooth new way to wel­come the com­ing sum­mer.

Drop­top gor­geous: Audi’s A5 Cabri­o­let has ar­rived just in time for sum­mer.

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