Audi A5 Cabriolet - Engines, drive & performance

The Audi A5 Cabriolet has no shortage of power, but we wish the body was a little stiffer

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While always regarded as a fast and comfortable motorway cruiser, the Audi A5 Convertible has never been celebrated as a driver’s car. However, Audi claims the latest version is much improved in terms of body control and that its structure is 40% stiffer than the previous A5’s.

With its new platform, the latest A5 Cabriolet is up to 55kg lighter than the previous car, and this clearly gets it off to a good start, because it can barely be distinguished from the coupe during normal driving. The steering is precise, but feels rather lifeless, however there’s next to no body lean in corners and you never feel likely to run out of grip – even more so with the quattro four-wheel-drive system.

On UK roads, the S line model is firm around town, but it settles on the motorway to allow comfortable cruising. Larger 19-inch alloy wheels notably increase road noise, but the three-layer roof is excellent at boosting refinement and there’s very little engine noise.

Audi’s optional Adaptive Comfort Suspension allows the driver to choose between a softer or firmer ride, but even in the sportiest mode, the A5 is some way off the Audi TT Roadster for driving entertainment.

There are circumstances where you miss the extra stiffness the roof of the coupe provides, and without it certain mid-corner bumps and more demanding bends can cause the body to shake and shimmy – which you can feel through the controls.

This is a characteristic shared with most large convertibles, but it’s a shame that it prevails despite all Audi’s development work. But as it’s only really noticeable on very rough or challenging roads, it shouldn’t necessarily put you off. However, enthusiastic drivers will be better served by the Audi A5 coupe, or better still, the BMW 4 Series Coupe or Convertible.

Audi A5 Cabriolet diesel engines

No A5 Convertible is short on power – even the entry level 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel boasts 187bhp, enough for 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds. Although there’s no escaping that four-cylinder diesel rattle when cold or when pulling away, once on the move the noise abates and is unobtrusive when cruising. It makes a good engine for sustained and economical high-speed cruising. The S tronic automatic gearbox impresses with its supremely fast gearchanges, which feel just as good as they do in an Audi R8 supercar.

Petrol engines

Those who expect to cover fewer than 12,000 miles a year may prefer the 2.0-litre petrol. Impressively economical, the entry-level version offers the same 187bhp as the diesel and is only available with front-wheel drive. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with the S tronic automatic as an option – both of which allow a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds.

A more powerful 242bhp version of this engine is also available, exclusively teamed with the quattro four-wheel-drive system and seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. It takes the A5 Cabriolet from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds.

Although currently unavailable on brand-new models, the S5's V6 engine is powerful and sounds great, but it isn’t as rewarding to drive as it should be, and most enthusiasts are likely to be underwhelmed by the overall driving experience. Audi has softened the suspension in an attempt to soak up the shimmies caused by removing the roof, but this does mean the car rolls a little in corners. It’s hard to justify paying the the premium for the S5 over the most powerful models in the standard range.

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