Review – Audi A5… Convertible

If Audi were at school, the teacher’s report card would read ‘has made very good progress over the last academic period and if he keeps up this rate of improvement, he will begin to seriously trouble his friends BMW and Mercedes’.

It must be said that Audi are producing some excellent cars and although very different in character from its rivals, top marks. The A4 convertible was always a good car, yet very heavy and thirsty but with the benefit of lightweight materials and incredibly efficient engines, this is almost a thing of the past.

The A5 looks quite staid and solid and not until you turn the key do you realise it’s a bit of wolf hidden in sheep’s clothing, as this thing really flies. The engine is fabulously smooth with a silky gear change and enough torque to please Lewis Hamilton.

The 3.0 litre TDI S line is a joy and there is a great feeling of solidity about the car. Fluid is the best word to describe the drive, although you might not agree if you purchase the entry level 1.8 model but once into the 2 litre (201bhp) and higher, fluidity is what you get.

Although you can choose 2 or 4 wheel drive, l don’t understand why anyone would ever reject AWD as it is infinitely safer in adverse conditions, helps cornering and you would never know it was there if you didn’t need it.

Of the seemingly thousand models Audi produce, only four are convertibles. The A5 Cabriolet is the most versatile of the rag tops, in that it’s got four usable seats and a plethora of engines, ranging from the entry level 1.8-litre TDI to the supercharged 3.0-litre petrol in the high-performance S5 and for immature Neanderthals like me, there is the ridiculous 4.2 litre V8 in the RS model that is so insanely fast, in what is basically a saloon car, that l was forced to accept the very kind invitation from Tony Rice at Coulsdon Audi to gently drive it around Brands Hatch on one of their Audi track days last month.

I might of missed the gently memo but when presented with the entire range of their RS cars and a racetrack – well, l rest my case. I will give a full report on this rather surprising day next month.

The A5 is one of Audi’s best-looking cars and the Cabriolet version does little to change this. Even an earlier facelift recognised this, by doing very little to change the actual appearance of the car.

The big changes came underneath, with new engines and better systems; from the outside, only new headlights with smart daytime running lights give the game away. And for those who moan that Formula 1 is just a mindless Scalextric set, we are starting to see a whole raft of innovations to road cars from the F1 development cycle.

The A5 has braking recuperation that takes the energy created by braking and stores it in the battery for use in acceleration. Clever stuff.

The seats are voluptuous and comfortable and under full electrical control and it really does have a full four seats with plenty of room for child seats and although the roof is cloth to save weight, it is constructed of an acoustic material that effectively seals you from the outside world.

And if, like me, you love a convertible on a dark cold night, it has air scarves in the front headrests that gently waft warm air onto the back of your neck – got me a tad hot under the collar until l realised Heidi Klum wasn’t in the back seat.

The electric roof also folds neatly into a recess at the back that, unlike tin tops, doesn’t fill the boot. Therefore, you are left with a very respectable 320 litres or 750 with the back seats folded flat. The A5 also has a neat trick if it senses a roll over, by popping up metal bars to protect the rear passengers.

Its nearest rival is probably the BMW 3 series which it beats in size, boot space, comfort, price and looks. But don’t get me wrong, this is not a cheap car. My review car, with quite a few bells and whistles, was a fiver short of £49,000 but with all its rivals being in the same ballpark, you would really have to have a good reason not to buy it.


Model:  Audi A5 Cabriolet, 3.0 V6 TDI Quattro S Line
Performance: 0-62 mph 6.3 seconds
Top Speed: 155 mph
Emissions: 154 g/km
Economy: 47.9 combined
Price: £48,995.00