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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.

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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. Opt for the Edition 1 trim and you’ll get even larger wheels, which give the exterior design an uplift, but make the ride even firmer than the S line model.

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.

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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 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel boasts 201bhp, enough for 0-62mph in just 7.6 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

Convertibles generally suit the quieter idle of a petrol engine, for a less intrusive noise when stopped in traffic. The A5 Cabriolet is now limited to a single 2.0-litre petrol engine, available in 35, 40, and 45 TFSI versions. Power ranges from 148bhp to 261bhp, with the 201bhp middle range 40 TFSI being the sweet spot between power and efficiency. This also brings the 0-62mph dash down to 7.5 seconds, from 9.8 in the lower-powered model. If this still isn’t fast enough then the 45 TFSI manages the same run in six seconds flat.

There is no longer an S5 convertible for new car buyers; those looking on the used market will find the six-cylinder petrol S5 that was discontinued when a diesel engine arrived in the S5 Coupe and Sportback models. When available, the S5 Cabriolet may have had a powerful engine, but it was unlikely to be an enthusiast’s choice, with softened suspension in an attempt to improve the ride quality. In the end, most buyers opted for the S5 Coupe model, leaving little demand for the S5 convertible. If you do find one, you’ll at least own a relatively rare car.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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