Chance to get the top down with Audi’s new RS 5
WITH summer approaching, thoughts turn to convertibles.
Despite our unpredictable weather, British drivers in huge numbers optimistically opt for the open-top experience. In 2012 there were 55,211 new convertible cars registered in the UK, so more than 1,000 a week, accounting for 2.7 per cent of the market, according to the Society of Manufacturers and Traders.
Audi are about to weigh in with the 155mph RS 5 Cabriolet, powered by a hefty, hand-built, 450 PS V8, zipping it to 60mph in under five seconds.
With this sort of performance the windin-the-hair experience threatens to crank up to gale-around-thecranium. However, albeit at legal UK speeds, our preview jaunt found the driver unruffled, comfortably protected from the front by the sloping windscreen and from behind by a slottedin deflector. Nothing more than you would expect from any latterday convertible.
Our steed had the £460 extra of heated seats, eagerly switched on by my female passenger, but not the optional neck warmer you can find as standard on some much more modestly priced open-tops.
The Audi’s status roof is of fabric, triple-layered for toughness and sound insulation. In a colour contrasting with the body’s, it looks better than a hard top, enthuse the stylists and they may have a point. A ragtop is inherently not as quiet as a metal cover, Audi insisting only that this so-called acoustic hood “offers a degree of sound absorption that runs its fixed-head counterpart remarkably close”.
It is dealing, of course, with not only the usual surrounding outdoor sounds but behind you the impressive growling sports exhaust (£890 option) of that 4.2-litre V8.
An early concern on our drive was a disconcertingly bumpy ride. Not a puncture. We put it down to a combination of extra-low profile 275/30 tyres on big 20-inch alloys, fitted as an option instead of the standard 19inch, together with the selectable suspension setting on “dynamic”. It might have been fine on a smooth race circuit, as distinct from Britain’s rough country roads. Switching it to “comfort” solved it. A case of too much technology for comfort?
The old fear about vandals slashing a soft top is dismissed. “Much easier to throw a brick through the glass if you want to break in,” smiled an Audi man.
What the hood does do impressively at the flick of a switch is either open, or fold away into the boot, within 17 seconds in a balletic sequence of swivelling panels, and at road speeds of up to 31mph, at whatever risk of distracting fellow road users.
The folded hood commendably takes up only 60 litres of the 380-litre boot, which itself can be extended to 750 litres by folding down both rear seatbacks.
OPEN AIR: The Audi RS 5 Cabriolet is powered by a hefty, hand-built, 450 PS V8.