Convertible adds fun to fast, sure-footed Audi
That’s what you get with Audi’s S5 Cabriolet Quattro, compared with its standard A5 coupe. The S5 comes as either a coupe with solid top or cabriolet, meaning it has a soft convertible top. Entry price is $50,900 for the coupe, with manual transmission and the super quick 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that will kick you in the pants to the tune of 333 horses.
The “ice silver” ($475 extra) convertible version I drove shoe horns that same engine under its hood and it’ll knock your socks off. Well, maybe just lower them a bit, but the supercharged power plant feels and sounds strong with a throaty, but not overly showy, exhaust note. No lag upon acceleration either.
Audi perfectly matches the engine with a 7-speed S tronic transmission with a manual mode. But you really won’t need that, the automatic so well meshes with the engine. Shifts are quick, but smooth and coupled with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system the S5 feels like it’s in harmony with any road, no slipping when you jam the accelerator, even in wet weather.
This is no lightweight, tipping the scales at 4,310 lbs., but this engine and tranny are so strong you’ll never even think about the weight. The car corners well, no body lean. Steering effort is fairly heavy, but the wheel gives you good road feedback via its electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering.
Riding on a 108.30-inch wheelbase you’d think the ride would be pretty smooth too, but the four-wheel independent suspension is tightly sprung to reflect the car’s sporty nature. It feels great on smooth asphalt roads, but can deliver a stiff ride on cement pavement. This also had 19-inch Pirelli P Zero tires on it, again aiding grip, but not smoothing the ride.
Brakes are large vented discs with stability control and are quick to stop this speedster.
Moving up from the coupe to the cabriolet pushes the entry price to $59,300 and with options this one topped $66 grand. But I’ve got to admit a convertible is loads of fun, when the weather is 60 degrees or warmer. I had this on some “mild” November days, but only drove a few miles with the roof down. Wind in the cockpit was minor, but the car is decidedly warmer with those side windows up if the roof is down.
Luckily there’s one button on the console to raise all the windows, which lower automatically when you flip up another toggle on the console to drop the top. That takes about 15-20 seconds and (others who stood outside the car to watch tell me) is like mechanical ballet.
So from a driving perspective and fun factor, the S5 is a delight. Inside, well, the interior is typical German black, all business. This one adds a small strip of carbon inlay in the doors for $500 extra, but it’s barely noticed.
Most of that black interior is leather, naturally. This one had white stitching and the dash had gray plastic trim with silver gauge surrounds and metal knobs and brushed metal door releases. The S5’s main gauges are good looking too with gray faces and a digital readout between them for trip info, a clock and outside temp reading.
Seating is sporty, meaning form-fitting, and power adjustable with a couple of driver’s seat memory buttons. Lumbar support is power adjustable too.
Best of all are the seat belt holders that power forward to help you reach them when you enter the car. They power back a few seconds later to be out of the way. Bet they cost a bit to fix, if they should go on the fritz.
Overall I like the sporty cockpit. I appreciate the three-level heated seats and metal-faced brake and accelerator pedals. Plus everything here is easy to reach and see. Sadly Audi continues its love of the mouse-like dial on the console to adjust the radio. Ugh! But I love the MMI (Multi-Media Interface) navigation system $2,950 package) that looks like Google Earth so you see real streets and buildings, not an abstract map graphic. The package also includes a rearview camera and parking assist system, which can be helpful in parking lots.
Strangely the steering wheel is a manual tilt/telescope model. I was expecting power at $66 grand. Likewise I would think a blind-spot warning system would come on a luxury sports coupe or convertible.
While I know weight becomes a concern on sporty vehicles, the fact that the S5 continues with a cloth convertible top instead of a hard-top convertible is a bit surprising, once you clear $60 grand. There is some mild road noise that creeps in through the rear windows here.
Not sure why the Audi remote key fob costs $550 extra too, as it worked identical to the remote key I had from parent company Volkswagen, the week before with a CC sedan costing half as much.
But if you are in this vehicle’s neighborhood, $500 or so may not mean all that much in a purchase decision. Gas mileage may not matter much either, and that’s good because this one takes premium and I netted only 18.5 mpg in about 50/50 city and highway driving. The EPA rates this at 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
Not a lot of cargo space in the trunk either, but then no convertible has much. This one is listed at 10 cubic feet. Two small bags may fit in the trunk.
S5 is fun to drive, but expensive to buy and run on the premium petrol. Still, you’d be hard-pressed to drive this convertible and not have a blast … especially in warm weather.
FAST Stats: 2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet Quattro
Hits: Super acceleration, sporty responsive handling, power roof and MMI (looks like Google Earth) navigation. Like that seat belt holders power forward to help you strap in, overall sporty cockpit feel, metal-faced pedals, and 3-level seat heat.
Misses: No blind-spot warning system at this price? Stiff ride, mouse dial radio control, soft-top convertible with some rear window air noise. Poor gas mileage and small trunk, too.
Made in: Neckarsulm, Germany
Engine: 3.0-liter TFSI, supercharged V6, 333 hp
Transmission: 7-speed S tronic w/manual mode
Weight: 4,310 lbs.
Cargo: 10.0 cu.ft.
Base Price: $59,300
Dealer’s Price: $55,150
Ice silver metallic paint/black roof, $475
Audi MMI navigation+ (CD/DVD player w/HD radio, MMI navigation, color driver’s info display, Audi parking assist, rearview camera, Audi connect online services, Bluetooth streaming), $2,950
Bang & Olufsen sound system, $850
19-in. 5-spoke wheels, summer tires, $800
Audi advanced key, $550
Carbon Atlas inlays, $500
Test vehicle: $66,320
Sources: Audi, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Audi