Audi A5 Cabriolet review
Second generation Audi A5 Cabriolet is an accomplished open-top grand tourer
As the name suggests, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is the open-top derivative of the stylish A5 Coupe. That means it uses the same platform as the A4 family, although of course it gets the A5's swoopier bodywork and a folding fabric roof for wind-in-the-hair motoring.
The second-generation A5 Cabriolet arrived in 2016, not long after the coupe, and was a clear evolution of its predecessor. The big changes took place under the skin, where a new platform reduced weight by around 40kg across the range, but new construction techniques meant the car is also 40 per cent stiffer. On the convertible, that means less chassis twist following removal of the roof.
While some rivals have developed folding hard tops for their convertibles, Audi has refined and developed its folding fabric roof. The latest top design has multiple layers that are designed to reduce wind and road noise - as well as keep the weather out - and the fully electric roof can open in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. And the roof now has a one-touch function that means you don't need to keep your finger on the button to allow the top to fully open or close.
The A5 Cabriolet received a minor facelift in 2019 bringing LED headlamps and the latest MMI Touch infotainment tech. There are four trim levels, but the powertrain options have been slimmed down considerably since the car was launched.
Entry-level Sport trim Cabriolets are available badged 35 TFSI or 40 TFSI with 148bhp and 201bhp versions of the same 2.0 petrol engine. Upgrade to S Line and you can choose the more powerful 45 TFSI quattro, running a version of the 2.0-litre petrol making 261bhp.
The only diesel option is the 40 TDI quattro, also making 201bhp from a 2.0-litre engine, and available across the range. Choose the Edition 1 and range-topping Vorsprung trim levels, and you can take your pick of any of the aforementioned engine options. These days there are no high performance S5 or RS 5 Cabriolets in the line-up.
All A5 Cabriolets are very well equipped, and the recent upgrades that standardised Audi’s Virtual Cockpit and latest MMI Navigation Touch were very welcome. On top of this the Sport trim runs on 18-inch alloy, has LED lights all round and leather sports seats. S Line brings 19-inch alloys, Matrix LED headlamps, special styling and Alcantara seat trim, while Edition 1 spec has 20-inch alloys, Black styling pack and electrically adjustable seats. The top-spec Vorsprung features an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system.
There are two main rivals for the Audi A5 Cabriolet, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet and the BMW 4 Series Convertible. The Merc is slightly more comfortable, while the 4 Series is a little too heavy to make the most of BMW's reputation for building sharp handling cars, thanks to its complex folding metal roof.
If you’re one of a large number of Brits who likes to make the most of what little sun we have, you’ll want to check out the latest Audi A5 Cabriolet. The drop-top challenger to the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet is well worth a look thanks to its combination of desirability and practicality.
Underneath the smart, understated exterior and electric folding cloth roof, the A5 Cabriolet is the same as the A5 Coupe. That’s no bad thing, as it means you get one of the best interiors of any car at this price, loads of technology and even plenty of space for a drop-top. It’s not quite as versatile as the hard-top, but it truly is a convertible that can be used by a small family on a daily basis.
Factor in a typically strong and diverse Audi engine range, plus a chassis that’s much stiffer than the last car's, and you’ve got a pretty complete convertible. It’s still not as sharp to drive as the lighter (and stiffer still) coupe, but the slightly softer suspension and well-insulated roof makes it a really capable cruiser.
Engines, performance and drive
The Audi A5 Cabriolet is lighter and stiffer than the model it replaces, which greatly benefits the driving experience. Turn in to a corner and it’s clear the Cabriolet can’t match its Coupe cousin for rigidity. Even so, the stiffer MLB platform means it remains impressively composed over rough surfaces. There’s some shimmy through the chassis, particularly in bumpy bends, but it’s far from intrusive. Grip is also plentiful, and the £600 optional adaptive dampers deliver decent body control in their sportiest setting.
In Comfort mode the Audi has an edge for ride comfort over the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet. Large potholes and ridges sent a shudder through the cabin, but most of the time the A5 does a good job of soaking up bumps in the surface.
Refinement is also impressive, and with the triple-layer Acoustic hood in place the car is as quiet on the move as the Mercedes.
The A5 Cabriolet has been set up to be slightly softer than the Coupe to mask body shake over rough roads – a common problem in convertibles that are less rigid due to the loss of the metal roof. It’s worked to an extent, although on rutted or broken surfaces you can still hear the tell-tale side window rattles and see the rear-view mirror shake. On the worst roads, you can feel it through the controls, too. It’s no worse than rivals, but the coupe is still the choice for keener drivers as a result.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
The 2.0-litre diesel with 201bhp is available across the A5 Cabriolet range, and in combination with the seven-speed S tronic auto box and launch control it allows the Audi to cover 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.
The 40 TDI is quick in third, fourth and fifth-gear, but extremely tall sixth and seventh ratios mean the car can feel sluggish from 50-70mph. In the real world this means the car is turning 1,500rpm at 70mph and it struggles to settle on a gear when cruising, because the gearbox often kicks down at the slightest touch of the throttle. Still, at least the gearchanges are swift and slick, while the TDI is smooth.
The petrol engine outputs looks healthy on paper, but with less torque than the diesel, the 201bhp in the 40 TFSI version doesn’t feel as urgent as 40 TDI from lower revs even though it’s actually a tenth of a second quicker to 62mph.
For those after extra power 45 TFSI quattro offers a punchy 6.0-second 0-62mph time.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Unsurprisingly, the extra weight of the A5 Cabriolet’s folding roof means it isn’t as economical on paper as the Coupe. Still, it’s on a par with its rivals and buyers can trade performance for economy or vice versa depending on engines.
The most fuel-sipping model is of course the 2.0-litre diesel which manages 47.1-48.7mpg depending on trim level. Business users may be persuaded away from the cabriolet, however, as CO2 emissions of up to 157g/km don’t compare favourably to the coupe’s 146g/km. Opt for the 45 TFSI engine and CO2 rises to 193-196g/km, again depending on trim level, while the biggest petrol engine’s economy of 32.8-33.2mpg isn’t nearly as impressive as the diesel either.
A flat road tax fee is payable on list price, meaning that cars over £40,000 are penalised. All A5 Cabriolets will therefore cost £450 a year to tax for a five-year period, reverting to £140 a year afterwards.
The reduced security of the roof (and extra cost to repair it in a crash) means that the A5 Cabriolet will be a bit pricier to insure than the Coupe. Instead of group 26, it starts from group 30 for the 2.0 TDI, and 33 for the 2.0-litre petrol.
We don’t have residual value data for the A5 Cabriolet yet, but we know the Coupe is predicted to retain between 44 and 49 per cent of its value after three years. That’s pretty strong in this class of car, and even though the convertible costs a bit more to buy we expect similarly rock-solid figures when they are announced.
Interior, design and technology
Like the Coupe, the second generation A5 Cabrio isn’t a radical departure from the previous car in terms of the way it looks. The overall profile is nearly identical, despite the A5 being longer than before, so it doesn’t move the game on as much as some may have hoped.
Still, it’s a smart and stylish design, with details such as the neat adaptive LED headlights, creased bonnet and curved shoulder line giving it a bit of extra class. S-Line models gain larger 19-inch alloys, while the S5 has a slightly lower ride height, rear diffuser and dual-exhausts.
The real developments have happened inside, however. While quality was hardly iffy in the first car, its now exceptionally well screwed-together with materials that feel substantial and upmarket to the touch. It’s not as elegant to look at as the cabin of a C-Class, but it is easier to use and more practical.
It’s crammed full of technology, too. The optional Virtual Cockpit display again features, while there’s also an LTE module with built-in sim to allow the system to use wireless traffic and info services without consuming all of your phone data. Wireless inductive phone charging is also standard on some models and optional on others.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Like the rest of the A4 and A5 range, the ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dashboard is now standard. It replaces the traditional instruments with a crisp and clear 12.3-inch widescreen display that can show the dials, media info and even the sat-nav map. It works as well here as it does in any application, and almost negates the need for the stuck-out screen in the dash.
The slick MMI system has plenty of sub-menus to aid navigation, but once you’re familiar with them it’s a doddle to use thanks to the rotary controller and menu shortcuts on the centre console.
The slick MMI system has plenty of sub-menus to aid navigation, but once you’re familiar with them it’s a doddle to use, especially now a Touch control system has been added to the system.
Amongst the sizeable options list is a Bang and Olufsen sound system that’s standard on the Vorsprung. It’s predictably excellent, and perfect if you’re the sort of person who loves blasting tunes with the roof down. But to be honest, the standard system is hardly bad, and is perfectly capable even at higher speeds with the top down.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Anyone who thinks owning a convertible means sacrifices in day-to-day practicality would be impressed by the Audi A5 Cabriolet. Thanks to the compact size of its cloth roof mechanism and a longer body than the old car there is genuine space for four, and most of their luggage.
Visibility is pretty good for a car of this type, even out the back – although you’ll still be heavily reliant on sensors and cameras when you reverse park thanks to the narrow, high-set rear window. There’s several touches to make your life easier, however: the optional wind deflector slots neatly into a compartment in the boot when not in use, while the switch to open and close the roof no longer needs to be held down for the entirety of its operation.
Lowering the roof requires nothing more than a touch of a button, but it takes nearly a second and half longer to stow than the Mercedes C-Class Coupe's, at 19.9 seconds. Occupants aren’t as well protected from buffeting as they are in the C-Class, either. The Audi is available with a £600 wind break, but the manually set up unit is fiddly to install and doesn’t allow you to use the rear seats once in place. And while heated front chairs are standard, there’s no option to add a Mercedes-style Airscarf system.
On the plus side, the Audi’s rear bench offers more head and legroom for passengers, while its 380-litre boot is bigger and better shaped.
The A5 is a similar width and height to the outgoing car, but it’s around 50mm longer. This primarily means more legroom for rear-seat passengers and a deeper boot, but could in theory make it slightly trickier to park. It’s not significantly longer than a Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, however.
Legroom, headroom and passenger space
Buying a convertible does mean sacrificing the comfort of your rear seat passengers for the enjoyment of a folding roof – that’s because the roof and its mechanism has to sit somewhere once dropped. Thankfully, the A5 cabriolet is one of the most spacious in this class.
Although access is a bit limited for larger people attempting to get in the back, once there they’ll find a decent amount of space for the head, knees and shoulders. It’s perfectly fine for kids, while even smaller adults won’t be too disadvantaged on longer journeys. Less bulky front seats and larger side windows give it an airier feel, too. Those in the front shouldn’t have any issue, either, while the seats are hugely adjustable.
While the A5 Coupe offers a sizeable 465-litre boot capacity, the Cabriolet sees that drop to 380-litres with the roof up and 320-litres with it down. That’s hardly a big sacrifice, however, and means the A5 has the biggest boot of any four-seat convertible rival bar the larger Mercedes E-Class. You can even raise or lower the canopy that holds the folded roof electrically to test whether or not your suitcase will fit in with the roof down.
Reliability and Safety
Thanks to its considerably stiffer chassis and raft of safety equipment, the A5 Cabriolet is likely to be a safer car than the model it replaces. Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested the convertible yet, but we know the Coupe achieved a full five-star rating with an impressive 89 per cent rating for adult occupancy.
We don’t know for sure yet, but its unlikely that rating will be affected unduly by the loss of the roof – there’s also rollover protection to prevent the biggest issue there. What’s more, all cars get autonomous emergency braking at city speeds, a host of airbags and ISOFIX child-seat mountings. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning are all on the options list.
Reliability isn’t quite at the level you’d expect for a premium brand, however. It’s far too early to say if the new model will be problematic, but the brand finished a less-than-perfect 23rd place out of 31 manufacturers for reliability in 2016.
All Audis come with a fairly typical three-year, 60,000-mile warranty from new. That’s acceptable, but nothing to write home about – if a number of mainstream manufacturers such as Hyundai, Kia and Toyota can offer longer warranties as standard, so should premium brands.
However, Audi knows that many buyers of these types of cars trade them in after two or three years and buy them on lease deals, so a longer warranty is less of a concern than it used to be. If you intend on keeping yours for longer, you can pay extra to lengthen the warranty if you so choose.
The Audi A5 Cabriolet requires servicing every 12 months or 10,000 miles, whichever comes sooner. A more comprehensive check-up is required every two years or 20,000 miles, however. Prices vary depending on which engine you go for, but check with your local dealer as they can vary hugely depending on which one you go to.