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  • 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro

    Posted on January 10th, 2018 ninarussin

    Two-plus-two built for fun in the sun

    By Nina Russin

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Recently Audi introduced a cabriolet variant as the final member of the current-generation A5 family. As with its siblings, the A5 Coupe and Sportback, the cabriolet comes with standard quattro all-wheel drive, making it a great choice for buyers in four-season climates who need to navigate winter snowstorms but want a drop-top for the summer.

    Power comes from a two-liter, 273-horsepower engine and seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. A single button deploys the soft top and works at speeds up to about 30 miles-per-hour.

    The new model is slightly longer and wider than the car it replaces, but also lighter thanks to more use of lightweight body construction materials. Base price is $49,600 excluding the $975 destination charge.

    Options on the test car include a prestige package adding heated folding outside mirrors, satellite radio, heated power front seats with driver’s seat memory, LED headlamps, Bang & Olufsen audio system, top-view camera, LED interior lighting and navigation; ventilated front seats, heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist with traffic sign recognition, 19-inch alloy rims, adaptive suspension, walnut interior trim and a front air filter panel. Final MSRP is $65,050.

    Test drive in southern Arizona

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Over the past week I drove the A5 through Phoenix, Arizona’s east valley including Chandler, Scottsdale, Mesa and Gilbert. January is the time of year when tourists pour into the state for a series of events beginning with collector car auction week, so I had plenty of opportunity to test the cabrio’s performance in traffic, but also took it on some less travelled roads to see what it could do at speed.

    One of the traditional problems with convertibles has been cowl shake, since they lack a rigid roof structure. The engineers at Audi have made this a thing of the past: the cabriolet is every bit as solid as its hardtop siblings. The soft top is extremely well insulated, creating a cabin as quiet as that of a luxury sedan.

    The two-liter engine delivers as promised: zero-to-sixty acceleration is six seconds, slightly slower than the other two A5 models but certainly nothing to sneeze at. The turbocharged block develops peak torque, 273 pound-feet, at speeds as low as 1600 rpm: hence the excellent acceleration off the line.

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    Audi A5 Cabriolet

    The turbocharger also contributes to very good fuel economy. I averaged about 29 miles-per-gallon on my 160-mile test drive, about two MPG higher than the EPA average. Because the engine compression ratio is relatively low, the car runs just fine on regular unleaded gasoline. Chain drive eliminates the costly repair of a timing belt that often occurs after the warranty period.

    A dual clutch automatic transmission utilizes friction couplings to replicate the feel of a manual gearbox sans the clutch pedal.

    A standard heads-up display gives the driver speedometer readings and posted speed limits so he doesn’t need to take his eyes off the road.

    Engineers located the steering rack close to the wheels for better response. There is plenty of assist at lower speeds for maneuverability and on-center response on the highway is excellent.

    Audi is known for its suspension systems: the A5 is no exception. A redesigned five-link front and rear independent suspension is heavy on aluminum to minimize unsprung weight. The convertible prances over pitchy hills like a ballerina.

    Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes stop the A5 cabriolet in firm, linear fashion.

    Visibility with the top in place is surprisingly good. I had no problems monitoring traffic on the highway when merging from an entrance ramp, or seeing vehicles in the adjacent lanes. A glass rear window has the advantage over plastic of not yellowing and fogging over time.

    A standard rearview camera helps drivers back out of parking spots by eliminating blind spots under the rear glass and in the back corners.

    Upscale interior

    Audi A5 Cabriolet Interior

    Audi A5 Cabriolet Interior

    The A5 interior is what one might expect of a German luxury car, with supple leather seats, an exceptionally good (albeit optional) audio system, and well-designed gauge cluster. As with most two-plus-twos there is almost no legroom in the second row. Its best use is for additional cargo space, especially when the top is down.

    Keyless entry and start is standard. Optional driver’s seat memory makes it easier for multiple family members to share the driving.

    Seat heaters are a nice addition on cooler days so the driver can comfortably motor with the top down. Ventilated seats are a must for leather upholstery here in the southwest where car interiors reach 140-degrees in the summer.

    Infotainment controls are easy to reach from either front seating position. The audio system is not especially intuitive to operate, but that shouldn’t be a problem for car owners once they get used to it.

    Standard safety

    The Audi A5 cabriolet comes with six airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, autonomous braking, LED daytime running lamps, LED tail lamps and tire pressure monitoring.

    Audi builds the A5 at its Neckarsulm, Germany assembly plant.

    Like: A soft top that can truly function as a four-season car thanks to standard all-wheel drive, a rigid body structure with excellent driving dynamics and well-insulated soft top.

    Dislike: Option packages add significant expense to the vehicle, in this case close to $15,000.

    Quick facts:

    Make: Audi
    Model: A5 Cabriolet 2.0T quattro
    Year: 2018
    Base price: $49,600
    As tested: $65,050
    Horsepower: 252 HP @ 5,000 rpm
    Torque: 273 lbs.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
    Zero-to-sixty: Six seconds
    Antilock brakes: Standard
    Side curtain airbags: Standard
    First aid kit: N/A
    Bicycle friendly: No
    Off-road: No
    Towing: No
    Fuel economy: 24/34 mpg city/highway

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