|2010 Audi A5
|2010 Audi A5
By Alex Kramer
- Versatile turbocharged engine
- Sticks to the road like glue
- Well-appointed, luxurious interior
- Soft-top folds down in a mere 15 seconds
- Could use a few more ponies under the hood
- Rear seats are for kids only
- A bit pricey, even for a luxury convertible
Let’s face it, in the eyes of car enthusiasts convertibles just don’t get much respect. Taking the top off of a sporty coupe is seen as a recipe for appealing to the fairer sex, for whom aesthetic appeal is far more important than tire roasting acceleration or slot car like handling. When Audi announced that it would produce its A5 coupe in a cabriolet for 2010, one could easily interpret this as a blatant move in the hairdresser direction. With the TT roadster aimed more at the sports car segment, the A5 Cabriolet will surely appeal to the well-coiffed crowd.
The only problem with this formula is that like most Audis, the A5 Cabrio is a pretty damn good driver’s car. Sure, it has a less than macho soft-top, but to write this car off as a mere style accessory would be missing the point. After several days of driving twisty, hilly backroads, the only facial expressions we could muster involved lots of grins and smiles. And here in California, where the sun shines most days of the year, we sure don’t mind having the wind in our hair while tearing down the road.
For the A5 Cabriolet, VW decided to make its versatile 2.0T 4-cylinder the only available engine. Although power output is a modest 210 hp, there is an ample 258 lb-ft torque available at a low 1500 rpm. Acceleration off the line isn’t exactly head snapping, but once moving this little engine provides more than enough thrust to make things enjoyable. A big benefit to small turbocharged motors is excellent fuel efficiency and the A5 Cabrio doesn’t disappoint, achieving up to 30 mpg on the highway in front-wheel drive configuration. Plus, those looking for sheer speed can always trade-up to the S5 Cabriolet and its 333 hp supercharged V6 engine.
Unfortunately, Audi decided to err on the side of caution and convenience when it comes to shifting, and offers the A5 Cabriolet with either a Multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) for front-wheel drive models, or a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic for cars that are equipped with Quattro all-wheel drive. Neither a manual transmission nor VW’s DSG direct shift automatic will be available, at least not in the US. Our test car came with equipped with the 6-speed automatic, which proved perfectly adequate for everyday driving and allows for manual control of shifting through the use of paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.
Our test car also featured Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to select from several different settings that control the car’s adaptive suspension, dynamic steering, transmission shift characteristics and engine response. Although we did play around with the settings a bit, the differences are subtle and we left it in automatic mode for most of our testing. Overall, the suspension is nicely balanced and provides good control without giving away much comfort. Steering feel is very light at low speeds, almost alarmingly so, but it does firm up nicely when driving faster and provides a decent amount of feedback once at speed. Chassis stiffness is quite good, especially for a convertible, but hard cornering over uneven pavement will cause the rear end to quiver a bit.
Although the A5 is no lightweight and doesn’t quite dance through the turns, overall cornering grip is impressive and the car is more than capable of attacking a set of switchbacks at a high rate of speed. Much of this Herculean grip is due to the combination of Quattro all-wheel drive and a set of optional 19” wheels shod with super sticky Pirelli P Zero Rosso tires in a wide and ultra low-profile 255/35 fitment. These tires provide so much grip that we could hardly get them to make a peep, even when driving very aggressively on tight and twisty backroads.
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