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Audi A5 Cabrio 2.0 TFSI S line

Lighter than rivals, soft-top star blends great quality and top value

Few manufacturers can claim to have had as much recent drop-top success as Audi.

The German firm struck sales gold with its 80 Cabriolet in the early Nineties, and the A4 which replaced it proved even more popular. So it’s no surprise the company hasn’t tinkered with the formula for the latest A5 convertible.

As with its predecessors, the Audi has a traditional fabric roof instead of a more fashionable folding hard-top.

However, while its hood mechanism isn’t exactly cutting edge, it certainly doesn’t cramp the Audi’s style. With the roof in place the car has the same sleek profile and perfect proportions of the A5 coupé. Hit a button on the centre console and the lid folds gracefully out of sight in only 17.2 seconds, leaving an uncluttered deck. Our S line model stands out further, as it gets a neat bodykit and LED lamps.

The cabin has been carried over unchanged from the fixed-head variant. As you would expect, the build is top-notch, all the materials are high quality, and the dash is attractively styled and well laid out. Better still, S line trim includes the firm’s ‘acoustic hood’ lining as standard.

Due to its greater density, this reduces cabin noise to such a degree that it’s virtually on a par with that of the coupé. With the roof up, there’s plenty of room for four adults inside, too.

But the real benefits of a fabric roof become clear when you open the bootlid. Under it you’ll find a useful 380 litres of luggage capacity, which shrinks to 320 litres with the roof stowed.

In contrast, the Audi’s rivals in this test are left with barely 200 litres of load space when occupants want to enjoy the sun. Another advantage of the cloth covering is that it weighs much less than a folding metal set-up.

So the 1,630kg Audi is the lightest of our trio even if, thanks to extra chassis strengthening, it weighs around 180kg more than its coupé counterpart.

Those extra kilos didn’t stop the A5 dominating at the test tack, where its smooth and punchy turbocharged 2.0-litre powerplant provided impressive straight-line pace.

Not only was this the quickest car from 0-60mph, but its 350Nm of torque also delivered knock-out overtaking punch, leaving the BMW and Lexus trailing.

However, on the road the Audi was much less convincing. Despite the addition of considerable under-floor support, the drop-top’s body suffers from significant flex.

Over broken surfaces, there’s vibration through the dashboard and rear view mirror, while the normally sharp steering and slick gearshift lose their precision when the road gets rough. The stiffer suspension of our S line test car served only to exaggerate the problem.

The question is, do the compromises in terms of driving dynamics detract from the A5’s excellent style, quality and value?

Details

Chart position: 2
WHY: With a strong tradition of producing fine convertibles, Audi has high hopes for new fabric-topped A5 coupé.

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