Audi RS5 Cabriolet review
Is the new Audi RS5 Cabriolet the best way to enjoy the firm’s excellent 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 engine?
The Audi RS5 Cabriolet joins the firm’s rapidly expanding high-performance RS range. It uses the same 444bhp 4.2-litre V8, seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and quattro four-wheel-drive powertrain as the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant estate to deliver impressive all-weather performance. However, this time, there’s the added bonus of being able to drop the canvas roof when the sun comes out. Like the RS5 and RS4, the Cabriolet promises plenty of performance, but doesn’t quite deliver the thrills that the keenest drivers will appreciate.
Our choice: RS5 4.2 V8
The Audi RS5 Cabriolet certainly isn’t a car for shrinking violets. From its aggressive front bumper with its gaping air intakes, to its blistered wheelarches and huge twin exhausts, there’s no doubting that the RS5 Cabriolet shouts performance. The suspension is 20mm lower than a standard A5 Cabriolet, too, while the car comes with 19-inch alloy wheels as standard. The interior is beautifully built, with additions like sports seats, extra dials and a flat-bottomed steering wheel as reminders that you’re driving something special.
As you’d expect, the 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 gives plenty of acceleration, helped by the smooth twin-clutch gearbox. It can do the 0-62mph sprint in 4.9 seconds - 0.4 seconds slower than the coupe - and has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Four-wheel drive gives lots of reassuring grip, as it can shuffle up to 70 per cent of the engine’s power to the front wheels, or 85 per cent to the rear. Thanks to additional bracing to compensate for the lack of a metal roof, the RS5 Cabriolet weighs 1,920kg - 205kg more than the coupe. Under heavy braking and rapid changes of direction, the extra weight means the RS5 Cabriolet is less planted than the lighter coupe. Being able to drive with the wind in your hair is some compensation. But although the V8 is louder with the roof down, you can actually hear it better with the top up, because the acoustic hood filters out other road noise. For keener drivers, the Sport option pack is worth considering. It costs £2,250 and includes Dynamic Ride Control adjustable suspension, 20-inch alloys, a sports exhaust and variable-ratio steering.
The RS5 Cabriolet uses tried-and-tested mechanicals that already feature in other Audi models. All cars come with plenty of airbags, stability control and Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system that gives a vice-like grip of the road. In the event of a roll over, the RS5 Cabriolet has pop-up roll bars to protect passengers. As with the rest of the A5 Cabriolet range, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and a reversing camera are all on the options list. Audi finished 15th out of 30 in the 2012 Driver Power ownership survey, which is just behind BMW but ahead of Volkswagen.
Like the rest of the Audi A5 Cabriolet range, the RS5 features automatic front seatbelt feeders, a wind deflector and a rollover protection system. The canvas roof is well insulated and can be retracted at speeds of up to 31mph in under 20 seconds. And like the humbler models, when stowed the roof only takes up 60 litres of the 380-litre boot. Three-stage head-level heating and front seat heating are all available as options.
The Audi RS5 Cabriolet is an expensive performance car with a big petrol engine, so running costs will be high. It’s expensive to buy, particularly if you choose a few options. And with claimed economy of 26.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 249g/km, the Audi will cost a lot in fuel and tax. Insurance and servicing will be quite steep, too – but then the same can be said of the rival BMW M3 Convertible.