What is it?
We Brits are second only to the Germans when it comes to the number of convertibles, such as this Audi A5 Cabriolet, sold in the, err, Milky Way? Or is it Europe? Anyway, it doesn’t matter because it’s trite. We’ve heard statements such as these a million times before, and so what – who cares about prosaic sales figures? It’s the emotional side of cars we enjoy, and what we should be asking is ‘why?’ Why, on an island where drizzle counts as clement, do we buy so many open tops?
Two reasons, perhaps. The plucky Brit’s stiff upper lip for one: ‘Balderdash to bally drizzle; we’ll not let a drop of water stop us!’; and secondly, our optimism and sense of fun. Yes, it’s raining now, but so what. At some point the sun is bound to peekaboo from behind a cloud, flushing our veins full of the essence of life as we whizz down the B1243 towards nirvana, with nothing but God above with a thumbs-up, smiling down as we smile right back. Well, something to that effect.
Above all else then, this all-new Audi A5 Cabriolet needs to be fun and make us smile. So, does it?
What’s it like?
Although we’ve denounced statistics, here’s one that may pique your interest: this new second-generation A5 Cabriolet is 55kg lighter than its predecessor. As we know, lighter is good, so along with a power boost of 22bhp and the injection of an extra 15lb ft of torque from the car’s upgraded 2.0 TFSI 252 petrol engine, nearly a second has been slashed from the 0-62mph sprint. And as if someone were thrusting cake at you quicker than you could eat it, it’ll still manage another 5mpg and emits 18g less CO2/km. Plus, being a petrol and Euro 6 compliant, Mayor Khan will beckon you into London without the need to pay a T-charge toll.
The A5 Cabriolet’s standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox is mostly smooth and snappy – bar the usual jerkiness at slow speeds. And if you put it in to manual mode, hold the car in third and accelerate, you’ll discover a very linear power delivery all the way from 1500rpm around to 6000rpm, when it finally starts to wane. Which also means solid if not scintillating performance, with the ability to get past lumbering lorries in the hinterland without too much stress.
So, it’s great then? Ah, no. Remember that sense of fun we targeted? Well, this is an engine completely devoid of character. Linear it may be, but there’s no exponential power explosion to encourage you to rev it to the final furlong, or indeed aural delights to stir the soul. A mildly gravelly, but mostly insipid, four-pot whimper is about your lot. That said, with its main rivals, the BMW 430i and Mercedes-Benz C 300, having just four-cylinders too, you could argue it’s merely a sign of the times.
Nevertheless, it does beg the question: why choose this petrol over the silky charms and even greater frugality of the 3.0-litre TDI 218 V6 diesel? We mention this simply because the A5 Cabriolet bowls down the road with such a supple gait that the effortlessness of that diesel would suit it better. And if a petrol doesn’t give a pleasing soundtrack either, surely the 3.0 V6 is a no-brainer?
You see, with the adaptive suspension set to Comfort mode on our Spanish test route, the car never thumped or thudded once, even when aimed with the deadly focus of a hunting hawk at the one and only pothole we encountered. And other than the odd shimmy through the steering column, body ridgity was so good, considering this is a long car with no roof structure, that the claimed 40% increase in torsional stiffness over the previous A5 Cabriolet might just be a statistic worth believing.
And while it’s not going to fizz your senses like an M Sport-spec 430i, tautened up in Dynamic mode and thrown at a challenging section of bends, the A5 Cabriolet does keep its cool and stays composed, even with some tricky undulations thrown into the mix. The steering is also accurate, if mute, and there was even a moment of promise when, exiting of an off-camber roundabout, the rear playfully rotated with a squeeze of the throttle. Sadly, this proved to be a one-off, and subsequently the A5 just gripped and went, with only tedious understeer if we overcooked it. Still, somewhere in that deeply conservative chassis set-up, there’s potentially some fun to be had, and otherwise it’s totally safe and secure.
Otherwise, the A5 Cabriolet is quite fabulous. At speed, its acoustically lined hood is smashing at insulating you from the outside world, and with it down – a process that requires just one touch of a button and is achieved in merely 15.0sec – it’s bluster-free with the windows up, too. So much so that you can chat to your passenger, hold a telephone conversation (it even has microphones in the seatbelts to facilitate this), or enjoy the punchiness of the optional Bang & Olufsen stereo, with ease.
Should I buy one?
So, fun? Well, that depends on your definition of the word. With this engine, the A5 Cabriolet is probably not shown to best effect. And if you are looking for a convertible with on-the-limit delicacy, then a BMW 430i will serve you better.
Yet for a car that wafts you around with a sense of je ne sais quoi, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is quite charming. So, for easy, carefree and relaxing fun in the sun, then yes, it is fun.
Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI 252 quattro S line S tronic
Location Spain; On sale April; Price £45,630; Engine 4 cyls inline, 1984cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 249bhp at 500-6000rpm; Torque 273lb ft at 1600-4500; Kerb weight 1710kg; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch auto; 0-62mph 6.3sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 43.5mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 149g/km, 28%; Rivals BMW 430i Convertible M Sport auto, Mercedes-Benz C 300 AMG Line auto
What is it?