Audi’s star cabriolet act
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.