Audi S5 Cabriolet
Sun-seeking S model ushers in a new personality
ENGINE 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, turbo / POWER 260kW @ 5400rpm / TORQUE 500Nm @ 1370rpm / WEIGHT 1840kg / 0-100KM/H 5.1sec (claimed) / PRICE $119,111
AS THE earth tilts to a more favourable axis Aussies will start warming to the idea of an Audi S5 without a roof. After all, Igolstadt’s white coats worked magic on the S5 Cabriolet’s donor vehicle, infusing a medium luxury coupe with dazzling dynamics and sizzling straight-line stonk.
We’re told the wheelbase has been extended, slightly, for more legroom.
It’s 47mm longer. There’s high-strength steel padding the chassis, and the end result is a car 40kg lighter and 40 per cent stiffer than the old car, albeit 225kg heavier than its hard-top sibling.
In the metal its sleek and muscular, like if Heidi Klum was on Ninja Warrior, thanks to that ‘Tornado’ character line and bulging bonnet. Stowing away the roof, in 15 seconds, makes it twice as pretty, while neck heaters and wind blockers make it less chilly.
At its core is the same 3.0-litre V6 quattro drivetrain as the coupe, mated to an eight-speed torque-converter auto. The single-turbo hot-vee engine makes 260kW and 500Nm, but on the run it doesn’t feel in the same league as its hard-hat siblings. The drivetrain’s a big step up from the 185kW/370Nm 2.0litre unit – with 500Nm at 1370rpm it is effortless when cruising – but flat-chat to 100km/h it’s 0.4sec slower than the S5 Coupe, which is obvious at the helm.
The suspension also works hard to check the extra mass: the primary ride feels a touch stiffer over high frequency bumps, but it lopes slightly over rises and doesn’t turn-in as crisply.
Conversely, the roof adds proper grand-touring appeal to the S5.
The standard sport seats are more comfortable than a Sealy mattress, and it’s easier to have a conversation at 100km/h with the roof down than in some closed-in sportscars. Then there’s that engine note. The twin-scroll turbo engine’s high-tech blare is likeable, delivering upshift burps and spool hisses that some might find zestier than the old blown six.
Inside it has enough safety gizmos to basically drive itself. Comfort levels are high, even if you can’t have neck heaters on the S Sport seats, and tech levels are high. Virtual cockpit remains a class standout and the infotainment system is highly capable, even if navigating the layered menus is sometimes overwhelming. Come options time we’d skip the sports-differential and try and stretch to the Technik package with a high-end B&O sound system and head-up display.
It won’t make you giggle like a Boxster, which makes us ponder the sedan-cum-cab concept. But if you must have a swift luxury convertible, anyone looking at BMW’s 440i or Mercedes’ C43 ought to drive this.
With their on-paper price and performance almost equal, it’s the Audi’s overall package we’d be leaning towards in an on-road punch-up. Audi hasn’t built an S5 without a roof here – it’s just not dynamic or fast enough – but you won’t be at all disappointed with the end result.