Audi's second generation A5 Cabriolet looks offers more of the same virtues we've comes to expect from the marque's open-topped cars. Jonathan Crouch reports.
For a certain kind of customer, the combination of the Audi badge and a pretty convertible bodyshape seems to be difficult to resist. We saw it with Princess Diana and her Audi Cabriolet in the early Nineties. Then with the huge success of the handsome A4 Cabriolet which dominated the executive drop-top sector in the early years of this century.
Ten Second Review
Audi didn't need to radically reinvent its A5 Cabriolet but it has done anyway. This second generation version is stiffer and lighter, plus it's faster, more frugal and better connected. Inside, you'll find a classier cabin with the option of Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument binnacle, while on the road, a freshly developed suspension set-up means a much more sophisticated standard of ride.
For a certain kind of customer, the combination of the Audi badge and a pretty convertible bodyshape seems to be difficult to resist. We saw it with Princess Diana and her Audi Cabriolet in the early Nineties. Then with the huge success of the handsome A4 Cabriolet which dominated the executive drop-top sector in the early years of this century. When Audi's pretty A5 Cabriolet first appeared in 2010, it was an evolutionary step forward from that car. Like its predecessors, the A5 drop-top ignored the prevailing trend for folding metal hard-tops and was smart, relatively practical and very cool. But that didn't mean it couldn't be improved upon and at the end of 2016, Audi duly did just that, announcing this MK2 model. It's still beautifully built and lovely to look at but is now an even more accomplished way to enjoy the best - and worst - that the British weather can offer.
As a general rule, if you own an executive-class convertible, you probably don't drive it too fast. By cruising along, there's a far better chance you'll be spotted by desirable members of the opposite sex and thus fulfil the primary purpose of this type of car. Of course, should the rain be prevailing or the streets be deserted, Audi has been kind enough to build in some potential for fun. Power comes from one of six engine options. The 2.0 TFSI petrol unit opens proceedings with 190PS, then there's the 252PS 2.0 TFSI variant, which can come with the quattro 4WD you get on the top 354PS S5 variant. Diesel-wise, there's a 190PS 2.0 TDI with or without quattro 4WD, plus a 2WD 218PS 3.0TDI S tronic model, or a desirable 286PS 3.0 TDI quattro. This lighter, stiffer A5 Cabriolet benefits from the same layout that has been warmly received in the second generation A5 Coupe and Sportback models. That means there's a much improved suspension set-up, a rear five-link configuration replacing the trapezoidal-link suspension used on the previous model. Adaptive dampers are available as an option. They are incorporated into the standard Audi drive select dynamic handling system and allow the driver to choose between a performance driving bias or a more comfort-oriented profile. The newly developed electromechanical power steering offers better feedback from the road and greater steering precision. As an option, dynamic steering which varies its gear ratio depending on the speed and steering angle is available.
Design and Build
As before, this convertible is based on the A5 Coupe. To reflect the improvements made to the second generation version of that car, the rear window of this one is now flatter and emphasises the rakish stance, as do the short overhangs and the long wraparound bonnet with its power dome. With a length of 4,673 millimetres this MK2 model A5 Cabriolet is 47mm longer than its predecessor. It's more important though to note that the body of this second generation model is 20% more torsionally rigid, yet is around 40kgs lighter than before. The nose is dominated by a three-dimensional Singleframe grille which is much flatter and wider than before. The wave-shaped shoulder line - a hallmark styling feature of the entire A5 family - makes the A5 Cabriolet look satisfyingly elegant. The acoustic fabric soft top fits as perfectly as you would expect and can now be operated with a useful one-touch opening function (why has no one done that before?). Here, a flick of the switch is all it takes to open the soft top fully automatically in 15 seconds or close it in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. When the top is down, bootspace reduces by 60-litres. When it's up, you get the same 380-litre capacity that the previous generation model could offer.
Market and Model
You can expect prices to sit in the same £35,000 to £50,000 bracket as this model's two most obvious rivals, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet and the BMW 4 Series Convertible. As for gearboxes, well Audi offers a choice of six-speed manual transmission, seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission or an eight-speed auto tiptronic set-up, plus there's quattro 4WD if you want it. All models come well equipped, every trim grade featuring xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, an 'Audi MMI radio plus' infotainment system with a 7-inch colour display, Bluetooth, a three-spoke leather multifunction steering wheel, a front centre armrest, a folding rear seat back with a 50:50 split, and LED interior lighting. Also standard are the Audi drive select dynamic handling system, the Audi pre sense city and multicollision brake assist safety systems, and a variable speed limiter. Many buyers will want to add in the desirable 'Audi Virtual Cockpit' TFT instrument binnacle, with its 12.3-inch screen and advanced graphics. A Head-up display can be ordered at extra cost. Also popular as an option will be Audi's top infotainment set-up, 'MMI navigation plus with MMI touch'. It includes such features as 10GB of flash storage, a DVD drive, Audi connect services for three years and an 8.3-inch monitor.
Cost of Ownership
The body of this MK2 model Audi A5 Convertible is the lightest in the segment and the car's overall weight has fallen by up to 40kg. That's equivalent to asking one of your children to get out and walk and it has predictably positive effects on the car's efficiency figures. Compared with the previous model, the engines offer up to 17% more power while consuming as much as 22% less fuel. Expect the190PS 2.0 TDI variant for example, to be able to manage over 60mpg in regular use. Also helpful is the optional 'Predictive efficiency assistant' which evaluates GPS information from the car's immediate surroundings and helps to save fuel by giving specific driving advice. Further assistance in terms of running costs is provided by a fixed price servicing plan that can cover you for between three and five years. In fact, this car can even book its own service appointments via an 'Audi connect safety and service' system. As well as providing emergency calling and online roadside assistance, this feature can, at the appropriate time, send a service request direct to your local dealer. On to the warranty. All cars in this class get three years of cover but whereas BMW and Mercedes don't limit your mileage in this period, Audi rather meanly restricts you to 60,000 miles. Optional extra-cost warranty packages can extend the cover to either four years and 75,000 miles or five years and 90,000 miles.
Executive class Audi convertible models have been highly successful for the brand down the years and now the mantle has passed to this second generation A5 Cabriolet to deliver the goods. In many ways, the recipe is much the same, Audi's cool brand image, stylish design language and slick interiors coupled with an expertly engineered fabric hood and a range of thrusting engines that are now more efficient than ever. It's not difficult to see this car's appeal. Most A5 Cabriolet customers will have decided they want one long before they take a seat behind the wheel. The Cabriolet line has become something of an Audi icon and there will be no shortage of people willing to sign on the dotted line for the car simply because this is the latest instalment. Happily, it looks as though there's plenty of substance beneath the marketing veneer and those seduced by the image should luck into the premium convertible that the others have to beat.