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Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Audi bandwagon moves on and its latest model is the new A5 Cabriolet. At one end of the scale you can have it with a goody-two-shoes 2.0-litre TDI (complete with stop/start technology), and at the other end is the rather rapid S5 tested here.

In the switch from Coupe to Cabriolet, the S5 has ditched the 4.2-litre V8 for a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 – like its S4 saloon sibling. So while the bhp figure might be down (from 349 to 328bhp) and torque figure up by a single digit to 325lb ft, that twisting force is now spread from 2900rpm to 5300rpm, rather than peaking at 3500rpm. The fuel consumption figure is also improved (26.2 to 29.1mpg), and for those of you that care about driving, you’ll be pleased to know that the S5 Cabriolet can be had with an active rear differential to mete out that torque more cleanly.

On sale in the UK: June 2009
Engine: 2995cc supercharged V6, 328bhp @ 5500-7000rpm, 325lb ft @ 2900-5300rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 5.6sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 29.1mpg, 224g/km CO2
How heavy / made of? 1875kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4635mm/1854/1380mm

This is the new Audi S5 Cabriolet, the most powerful version of the new Audi A5 Cabriolet, which replaces the popular Audi A4 soft-top. This is an Audi S5 with a new engine; instead of the S5 Coupe’s 349bhp normally aspirated 4.2-litre V8, there’s a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 with 329bhp, as seen in the new Audi S4.

The V6’s 325lb ft peak torque in the Audi S5 Cabriolet is identical to the V8’s in the Coupe, but it’s delivered over a wider band and from lower revs. The new engine’s CO2 emissions fall from 288g/km to 224g/km, and the S5 Cabriolet can only be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Like all Audi drop-tops, the S5 Cabriolet has a fabric roof, chosen for reasons of packaging compactness and style. An Audi A5 Cabriolet body is more rigid than the outgoing Audi A4 Cabriolet’s (although Audi no longer releases specific figures for such things), and it loses just 60 litres of its 380-litre boot space when the roof is down, a best-in-class figure.

Lowering the hood takes 15 seconds, and reversing the process takes 17 seconds. Both figures are usefully swifter than those posted by the metal-roofed BMW 3-series Convertible.

A key mechanical innovation, and one of particular importance to the high-performance all-wheel-drive S5, is the availability of a new mechanical sport differential, which dispatches the majority of available torque to the outside rear wheel in a bid to provide more neutral handling.

This can be had in conjunction with Audi drive select, which controls optional adaptive dampers and dynamic steering, as well as the throttle response and automatic transmission shift points.


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