site search by freefind
MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic

Click to view picture gallery“Whoever said that the best things
  in life are free’ was having a laugh;
  about the only ‘free
thing you get
  with a car is the wind ruffling your
  hair in a convertible — and they
  never come cheap...”


BUT IF THAT CONVERTIBLE happens to be an Audi S5 Cabriolet you definitely won't mind paying because this latest generation of the S5 has a svelte convertible body and comes with a new petrol-drinking 3.0-litre V6 that punches out 349bhp.

There's nothing quite like driving a convertible — topless just feels so right. Press the button to neatly fold away the S5's beautifully tailored soft-top and 15 seconds later you'll be on your way, wearing a smile of deep satisfaction. Actually you could pull away even as the top is opening because it can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 31mph.

While you'll get the same quality fresh-air sensations from the only other new A5 Cabriolet currently available — the £44K 144mph 187bhp 2.0-litre that, thanks to its TDI diesel engine can return as much as 61.4mpg (officially) — the range-topping cabrio's £52,510 price tag is fully justified by what's under its sharply profiled bonnet.

The new engine makes its presence known the second you thumb the Start button; the sound of its tuneful six-cylinder heartbeat resonating out of its four tailpipes. Audi have mounted the turbo in the 'vee' of the 3.0-litre block to allow short inlet ducts to each bank of cylinders to fast-track the turbo's spool-up response.

The new 349bhp V6
makes its presence
known the second you
thumb the Start button;
the sound of its tuneful
six-cylinder heartbeat
resonating out of its four

tailpipes...”
It works: underpinning the eager 349bhp is 368lb ft of gutsy torque, on call from a low 1,370rpm; together they deliver enough seamless urge to send the S5 spearing forwards from standstill to clock 62mph in 5.1 seconds. Top speed is restricted to 155mph.

It's a pleasing powerplant, clean-revving and muscular all the way though the autobox's eight ratios — and it's not afraid to slap the redline. Shifts, incidentally, are über-smooth whether going up or down. Along with a Sport mode, wheel paddle-shifters are to hand for fleeting or full-time manual gear changes.

Fitted with sports suspension, this new-generation S5 Cabriolet comes ready to rumble. It handles more sharply and with better control than any previous '5' Cabrio. Audi's Drive Select is also part of the deal so its button-pressing easy to modify the S5's handling and dynamic reactions (altering parameters like throttle response, the autobox's gearshift mapping, and steering feel) by selecting the most appropriate drive setting — choices are Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual.

Should you be looking to maximise efficiency (probably not, otherwise you'd buy the 60mpg diesel version), Efficiency sets the engine, automatic transmission, climate and cruise control systems to more fuel-efficient settings. For additional dynamic and comfort-oriented characteristics tick the box for the £900 electronic damping.

Drop-tops are historically notorious for scuttle-shake but the S5 is well inoculated against it thanks to a more rigid chassis — a 40% improvement over its predecessor; and it feels it! Our test route took us over some pretty rough country lanes and back roads but we didn't detect the least hint of any flexing.

The
brakes are reassuringly powerful and inspire confidence, effortlessly slowing the S5 whatever the speed. While you're ticking boxes don't miss the one for the optional £1,200 Sports differential. This torque-vectoring diff apportions the drive between the rear wheels as needed to enable faster cornering speeds (and exits!) and injects a sense of fun into the driving experience when you plant your right foot through the twisties.

While you’re ticking
boxes don’t miss the one
for the optional £1,200
Sports differential.
This torque-vectoring diff
apportions the drive
between the rear wheels
as needed to enable
faster cornering speeds
(and exits!) and injects a
sense of fun into the S5
driving experience when
you plant your right foot
through the twisties...”
Added to the strong grip from the quattro permanent four-wheel drive, this new S5 also benefits from modifications to the front and rear suspension and more feelsome steering with quick turn-in that sees the fat 255/35 lo-pro front tyres bite with purpose, and it goes about its business confidently and with as much poise as you'd expect from a fast Audi, its single-frame grille going precisely where you aim it.

The new V6 comes mated to an eight-speed S tronic autobox and, officially, it will return 35.3mpg in the combined cycle (urban 26.9; touring 43.5mpg). A hard week in the hands of MotorBar's road-test team saw an overall average of 29.8mpg recorded.

For some, all of this performance and ability is somewhat secondary to the satisfaction that comes from sitting behind the wheel in such a smart cabin. Audi really are the 'cabin-masters' and the S5's cockpit is tastefully fitted out.

The power-adjustable smooth Nappa leather sports seats with quilted diamond-pattern centre panels are as comfortable and supportive as they look — and along with powered lumbar there's also power adjustment for the backrest's side bolstering, a manually- extending under-thigh cushion, and a massage function offering three intensities of 'wave', 'stretch' or 'knead' massage patterns. Three-stage seat heating is a given and will keep you as warm as toast, topless on the coldest day.

High-end finishing and quality trim materials make an extra impact because of the first-class fit and finish, but it's Audi's Virtual Cockpit that provides the wow factor. Seen clearly through the top sector of the flat-bottomed multifunction steering wheel, and replacing the traditional instrument strip, is a 12.3-inch full-colour digital instrument panel that's fully customisable by the driver to show exactly what they want from a comprehensive menu of information including telephone, car settings, driver assistance systems, radio/media, and Audi Connect services.

Plus, with a quick finger-tap on the steering wheel you can switch between large dials or small ones with the active 3D navigation mapping or the onboard computer and MMI contents as a full display area background; or you can go for a streamlined Sport display with selected core information clustered around a large central rev-counter.

This is far more than just a clever party trick; it's a brilliant aid to safe and relaxed driving and it is complemented by a large pop-up (powered, naturally) central MMI infotainment touchscreen that sits proud on the upper fascia. The hifi (10-speakers including a centre speaker, subwoofer and amp with 180 watts output) delivers a decent sound experience — but audiophiles can go one better by checking the box for the Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 20 speakers including two subwoofers and a 755-watt output.

As it needs to be on
a drop-top, heating and
ventilation is brilliant —
the S5’s 3-zone
electronic climate control
system will roast or chill
you as you prefer and
those in the back can set
their own temperature
and distribution...”
As it needs to be on a drop-top, heating and ventilation is brilliant. The S5's is also rather clever, its 3-zone electronic climate control will roast or chill you as you prefer while those in the back can set their own temperature and distribution. Drop the top and the system automatically adjusts itself, compensating for all the extra fresh air.

Audi's Smartphone Interface uses Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to facilitate hassle-free mobile linkage for easy control of navigation, telephone, music and selected third-party apps via the MMI controller or voice control system.

Audi Connect links you to the Internet via an integrated data module with LTE/UMTS connection for access to entertainment, information and search functions via scrolling, tapping or verbal commands.

Services include navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, destination input via myAudi or Google Maps, access to Google and Twitter, a WiFi hotspot, point-of-interest search with voice control as well as parking, weather, news and travel information. The system will automatically, in the event of a severe accident, place an SOS call for you. Finally there's wireless smartphone charging (or you can use the USB port); the same charging tray also provides improved reception via the car's built-in aerial.

All the 'bare necessities' come as standard; things like a 'belt butler' that hands you your belt once you're seated in either front seat, a seriously good navigation system, keyless start, a chilled glovebox, electric parking brake with hill hold, heated powerfolding door mirrors with auto-dimming, Bluetooth, ambient cabin lighting (including for the cupholders), courtesy lighting on the outer door handles for easy entry and exit in the dark, auto lights and wipes, heat-insulating glass (side and rear), one-shot electric windows, frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights and LED daytime-running lights (Matrix LED headlights with LED rear lights and those cool dynamic indicators are a £650 option), and 19-inch alloy wheels.

There's also plenty of high-tech driver assistance systems including Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Traffic-jam assist (at up to 40mph in Traffic-jam mode it detects vehicles ahead, and moving in adjacent lanes, and assists with braking, acceleration and also steering to keep the S5 in its own lane).

This new-generation
S5 Cabriolet is not afraid
to slap the redline;
and it’s not afraid to
rumble — fitted with
sports suspension
it handles more sharply
and with better
control than any previous
‘5’ Cabrio...”
Pre-sense Front provides collision warning and automatic braking functions to cover the entire speed range (up to 155mph) and can also increase braking initiated by the driver if this is inadequate.

The system uses a camera located to detect vehicles and pedestrians in front in order to reduce the severity of any collision, or if possible prevent an accident; the driver is first given a visual and acoustic warning followed by partial braking and then full brake application.

The camera-based traffic sign recognition system (detects and displays speed limit, overtaking restrictions, and no-entry signs) is a great help. Hopefully you won't need to call on Collision Avoidance which provides additional steering torque and uses vehicle sensors to calculate the optimum path of avoidance during an evasive manoeuvre to reduce the likelihood of a collision or of swerving off the road.

Turn Assist (from the moment the turn indicators are activated when turning at junctions the turn assist system detects approaching vehicles and applies braking to help avoid a collision. Finally, the optional colour head-up display minimises distraction while keeping you fully aware of warning messages and driving-related information from assistance systems as well as the SatNav, all projected on to the windscreen in the driver's direct field of vision.

A convertible lives or dies by its roof — the fully-automatic fabric hood on the S5 is a superb piece of kit; not only can you have it in any one of four colours (brown, grey, red, or black) but it's optimised to keep out wind and other noise along with the rain. As already mentioned, it can be operated while moving at speeds up to 31mph and closes in not much longer than it takes to read this paragraph plus you don't have to keep your finger on the button so even driving solo you can open and close it on the go — perfect when, as is not unusual in the UK, the skies suddenly open…

Raised, it keeps the cabin virtually as quiet as its sibling, the fixed-roof S5 Coupe, which enhances the Cabrio's tireless mile-eating abilities. Rear-three-quarter vision is also pretty good, helped by the biggish side windows (and when parking you get a lot of help from the multi-view parking camera and front and acoustic sensors).

A convertible lives
or dies by its roof — the
fully-automatic fabric
hood on the S5 is
a superb piece of kit
that can be operated
at speeds of up to
31mph; with it stacked
under the rear deck,
you’re well protected
from the wind rush and
can enjoy the theatre of
the V6 soundtrack...”
And with it stacked out of sight in the boot, you're well protected from the wind rush and can enjoy the theatre of the V6 soundtrack, livened up by the charismatic crackles from the exhaust on the overrun when giving it some wellie.

The S5 Cabrio makes a good fist of being a well balanced, pacey yet not too hardcore high-speed machine — it's also a proper four-seater convertible.

Climbing into the back seats is easy even with the roof up courtesy of the long doors and electrically-sliding front seats. Once in, two adults of average build will be unexpectedly comfortable plus there's a fist of space between the roof and their heads.

When you're intending to travel 1+3 you'll need to stow the quick-to-fit flip-up wind deflector in the boot; at all other times it can be left in place either folded down or upright — raised, its fine mesh doesn't spoil the driver's view through the rearview mirror and adds privacy as well as creating a discreet 'cave' where you can leave items out of sight on the back seats.

Below the flat deck there's more boot space than you might guess — 380 litres of it. Also unexpected, the 50:50-split rear seatbacks fold down totally flat to create a seamless load floor which adds quite a bit of versatility. Not that you'd expect to use such a glam car for towing, but if you do you can haul a braked 2,000kg.

With its torquey 349bhp V6 this new S5 Cabriolet is satisfyingly sharp off the line, good to drive quickly and a refined and competent fast cruiser. And it makes a brilliant four-seater convertible 365 days of the year. ~ MotorBar
.
Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI quattro S tronic | £52,510
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 5.1 seconds | Test Average: 29.8mpg
Power: 349bhp | Torque: 368lb ft | CO2: 181g/km

.