Chance to get the top down with Audi’s new RS 5

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - ROAD TEST - Keith Ward

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.

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