What better way to make the most of the British sunshine than by driving a cabriolet? The issue with such cars is that they tend to offer limited space, but Audi says its A5 Cabriolet is different, being a full four-seater with a boot to match that of a family hatchback.
It is based on the A5 coupe and serves as a rival to the Mercedes E-class Cabriolet, which like the Audi uses a folding soft-top, and the BMW 4-series Convertible with its folding hard-top.
Petrol and diesel engines are offered, along with manual and automatic gearboxes and front- or all-wheel drive. At the top of the range is a high-performance S5 with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine that delivers a howl to relish - particularly when the roof is lowered.
- Latest deals: Check Audi A5 Cabriolet lease prices
A proper four-seat convertible
Sitting in the back seats of most convertibles is an experience that sounds better than it actually is. In the A5 Cabriolet there is at least enough room for two adults, even with the roof in place, although there’s still no escaping the wind buffeting when it’s lowered.
The front feels spacious, even if in-car storage could be better, and the boot offers enough room for a couple of large cases when the roof is in place, or a few soft bags when it is lowered.
It’s also worth noting that in many convertibles the boot divider needed to house the roof needs to be manually adjusted, whereas in the Audi this happens automatically.
In the event you are buying an A5 Cabriolet with the intention of carrying longer loads, it is possible to fold the rear seatbacks to extend the boot space.
Has a smoother ride than the A5 coupe
As with the A5 coupe, the seatbelts of the Cabriolet glide out to meet you when you climb in, while other thoughtful touches include the one-touch roof operation, and how the temperature of the climate control adjusts automatically depending on whether the roof is open or closed.
The driving position is fundamentally good, with plenty of adjustment, and if you opt for a model with the optional adaptive suspension the ride quality is perfectly acceptable (better than the A5 coupe, in fact). We did, however, note some vibration in the steering wheel when 19-inch wheels were matched with the standard suspension, so if you aren’t going for the adaptive setup we’d advise opting for a smaller wheel size.
The diesel and petrol engines are pleasantly refined, with the former making a quieter companion for motorway work, and the latter being smoother in towns and cities. Road and wind noise are also well suppressed with the roof in place, assuming you avoid the larger wheel and tyre options.
We’d also recommend the optional clip-in wind deflector, which drastically improves comfort with the roof down at the cost of blocking the rear seats.
Dashboard layout 9/10
Typically Audi, which is no bad thing
Climb into an A5 Cabriolet and there’s little doubt it is the product of a premium car brand. In both its appearance and feel it is a cut above most other cars, although it should be noted that Mercedes and BMW are far from lacking in this area.
Audi backs up this sense of quality with controls that are responsive and sensibly placed. The infotainment system is also quick to respond and slick to operate and the optional Virtual Cockpit digital dial display is both hi-tech and great to use (if an expensive addition).
Easy to drive 7/10
Slick controls, but reversing could be easier
With the roof in place you need to rely on the sensors and optional reversing camera when maneuvering, but that’s to be expected of a car of this type. The fact the wing mirrors are mounted quite low on the doors helps improve the view out at junctions, however, and the controls are sensibly weighted, whether you go for a manual or the very slick automatic model.
The petrol and diesel engines (both 2.0 litres in capacity) have easily enough power for easy overtaking. In fact, the latter produces a genuinely impressive turn of speed.
Fun to drive 7/10
Solid, yes, but far from sensational
Audi doesn’t currently offer the A5 Cabriolet with the 3.0-litre diesel that makes the coupe such a refined performer, but the 2.0 TDI or 2.0 TFSI are still both perfectly adequate.
The dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox shifts brilliantly smoothly, whether you let it take care of itself or use the steering wheel paddle to take control, but the handling majors on stability over excitement, with no feel through the steering.
Even the flagship S5 with its Quattro all-wheel drive prefers outright grip to intricate feedback, and so while it can cover ground very quickly it doesn’t ever feel like a particularly rewarding process. Best then to just drop the roof, settle to a cruising speed and enjoy the sunshine.
Probably won't leave you stranded, but the warranty could be better
Audi doesn't have the best record for reliability. In the 2016 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study it came 22nd out of 24 manufacturers - a pretty poor showing by anyone's estimation
It’s also worth noting that Audi's warranty last for three years or 60,000 miles – whichever comes sooner – whereas BMW and Mercedes offer unlimited mileage cover over the same time period.
Fuel economy 8/10
Diesels are best in class
Audi’s diesel models tend to be near the top of the class for fuel economy, and the A5 Cabriolet is no different. The 2.0-litre TDI managed almost 63mpg in EU tests and you can expect close to 50mpg in normal driving, which is impressive considering the performance on offer.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine will manage 30-35mpg in everyday use against an official figure of 43.5mpg, while those considering an S5 should prepare themselves for a sub-30mpg thirst, particularly if the car’s performance is to be enjoyed.
Not cheap, but you get what you pay for
The Cabriolet carries a premium of about £4,500 over an equivalent A5 coupe, but is still marginally cheaper to buy than its main rivals from BMW and Mercedes. It is the BMW, however, attracts the keenest leasing deals.
Residual values are predictably strong - you can reckon on your A5 Cabriolet being worth more than half of what you paid for it after three years and 60,000 miles, although to be fair the same can be said of its rivals.
Some great safety kit as standard
The A5 Cabriolet is unlikely to be crash tested by Euro NCAP, but the A4 saloon on which it and the A5 are based scored top marks, and all models come with six airbags and a system which will detect impending accidents at up to 53mph and apply the brakes. You can also pay extra to extend this system to even higher speeds, in addition to features such as blind spot monitors and Traffic Jam Assist, which allows the car to steer itself at low speeds in heavy traffic.
Standard specification 7/10
Looks good, but rivals are better still
The entry level SE version of the A5 Cabriolet comes with a DAB radio, front and rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate, three-zone climate control, heated seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. Upgrading to Sport adds satnav (although note this is standard on BMWs) and electrically adjustable sports seats, while S-line changes the standard suspension setup for a firmer sports option, upgrades the wheels to 18-inch items and features more aggressive body styling.
Just be aware that a lot of the exciting technology on the A5 Cabriolet, such as the Virtual Cockpit display, must be specified as an optional extra, often in conjunction with an expensive bundle of equipment.
Our favourite version
2.0 TFSI Sport S-tronic, list price £37,780
Options you should add: Metallic paint (£645), wind deflector (£300), Hill hold assist (£75), Technology pack (£1,110 for a larger central screen, 36-month internet subscription and phone signal booster/wireless charging), Virtual cockpit (£250)
With a softer ride than the equivalent A5 coupe (provided you avoid the S-line model and stick with 17-inch wheels) and the ability to lower the roof, this Cabriolet feels like a more cohesive package, and features some thoughtful design touches. It’s also usefully spacious for a soft-top, and has a classy interior.
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