I unashamedly admit to the excitement that sweeps me off my feet each time I see something go topless in 15 seconds (pun intended). The Audi A5 Cabriolet happens to be that eye-ball magnet, and everywhere we went, crowds gathered, jaws dropped and everybody went into selfie mode. It’s this experience that kicks up enough adrenaline to make every drive entertaining, and is undeniably this car’s unique selling proposition. Which is what we figure Audi is distinctly targeting.
Let’s look at the A5 Cab’s genes now. It is underpinned by the A4’s MLBevo platform that uses aluminium and magnesium to shed weight and boost body rigidity. As a matter of fact, when compared to the A5 Sportback, the Cabriolet weighs 205kg more, sits 3mm lower. Its wheelbase has been clipped by 59mm, and the front track is 3mm wider. The A5 Cabriolet spent two days in our testing fleet and here’s what you need to know about how such a set of wheels can change your lifestyle.
If you thought the deep green paint shade didn’t tingle your taste buds enough, I’m sure that the red fabric hood will. It folds only when you’re doing under 50kmph, and I felt it thoroughly complimented the paint, lending just enough bling for those intense head-turns. Then there’s the stunning two-door setup with aluminium framing that highlights the windscreen and windows.
Plus, on closer inspection, you’ll notice the differences with the A5 sedan, like the sharper and larger front air dams (like the S5). At the rear, the A5 Cabriolet gets a mildly restyled lower bumper section around the exhaust pipes. But, should we emphasize that it’s the profile section of this car which shows-off the gorgeous drop-down persona, the sexy two-door set-up and the chunky split five-beam alloys.
Once you get your ego massaged by those long rimless doors and are seated, the car smartly serves you the seat belt, and you eventually forgive the bend-job needed to get in! Nevertheless, you need to be vigilant about not flinging the doors too wide as they can easily come in the way of other motorists or parked vehicles. That aside, your attention immediately turns to the fine quality levels with premium fit and finish.
Visibility from the front seats, especially the side windows (with the roof up) is superb thanks to the absence of a prominent B-pillar. In fact, this is exactly why the cabin feels airy, and it is also partially due to the smart use of light grey interiors. Nevertheless, rear visibility isn’t great with the slim rear glass, but you can't complain since there’s a camera on-board. Let’s look at the seats now. The front ones have firm cushioning with good contours and lots of lateral support. There’s also appropriate thigh support and lots of knee room here.
However, despite knee room at the rear being just about adequate, foot room is tight. The firmly cushioned rear bench is slightly upright, and short on thigh support. But that said, headroom at the rear should only be a concern for tall occupants. Rear seat passengers need to duck while the roof folding mechanism is functioning since the beams can bump into their heads. In this case, this is a strict four seater since there’s a tall transmission tunnel that runs through the middle.
Another key point is that getting out of the rear seats can be challenging with the roof up. However, it's a breeze when the roof is folded since you just can stand up and walk out! This ultimately brings us to the boot space that shrivels from the A5 sedan’s 480-litres to 320-litres (hood open), to make space for the folding hood. It would make sense to stick to soft bags in this boot since it doesn’t have the height and depth that the sedan version sports. However, the rear seats fall flat by yanking at the levers situated on either side of the boot.
On the features front, it is surprising to see the A5 Cabriolet without keyless entry. Nevertheless, it gets safety features such as four airbags, ABS, EBD and traction control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a parking aid plus system with rear view camera. There are also functions like push button start, electric seats, cruise control and a Bang & Olufsen infotainment system that sounds clear even when the hood is folded.
Under the hood is the same 190bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel motor found in the A5 and A4 with 400Nm on tap. Even the seven-speed dual clutch transmission has been borrowed from them. This motor is so refined that you can hardly hear it inside the cabin, and it is silent even when the top dropped down. However, unlike the similar A5, this iteration is heavier by 205kg thanks to the Quattro system, the folding roof mechanism and the larger fuel tank.
So unlike its lighter siblings, the cabriolet’s power delivery is slightly muffled and there’s no torque steer either. That doesn’t mean it is lethargic in any manner, and in fact, we never really felt the need for more power in this convertible. Once off the line, the motor comes into its own post 1,900rpm, after which it makes quick progress before the DSG swiftly upshifts at the 4,600rpm limiter. However, we found out that the gearbox downshifts to the limit only when the revs are beneath 3,000rpm.
The A5 Cabriolet has four driving modes - Comfort, Dynamic, Individual and Auto. They alter the responses for engine/gearbox and the steering. While Comfort mode is the most relaxed, it offers a sedate performance output. Go off the throttle and the transmission will immediately upshift and coast. Dynamic mode, as the name suggests, makes the drive livelier since the transmission holds a lower gear to serve some instant thrust as soon as the accelerator is pressed. We, however, noted that it isn’t as jerky like the A4 or A5 in this mode since it has the extra weight to haul around.
Then there’s the Individual mode which permits the driver to toggle between Comfort, Dynamic and Auto for the engine/gearbox and steering. This essentially means that you can also mix the preferences. Like for example, choose ‘Dynamic’ engine/gearbox settings along with ‘Comfort’ steering responses. That said, the Auto mode smartly notes the driver’s driving style and automatically adjusts the steering and engine/gearbox responses. Now while the steering feels slightly vague and off-centre in Comfort, shifting to Dynamic makes it quicker and is preferred if you’re attacking bends.
Unlike the regular saloon version, the A5 Cabriolet tends to flex over harsh road irregularities. Plus, there’s some amount of wind and road noise that filters into this cabin at higher speeds. That said, you can hear the suspension working away at absorbing the harsh bumps. Since the suspension set-up is slightly soft, it happily absorbs most irregularities at slow speeds without allowing much NVH into the cabin. However, there is some vertical movement as speeds increases, and it can get pronounced over sharper undulations.
|Variant||2.0 TDI Quattro|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||190 @ 3800-4200|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400 @ 1750-3000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||58|
|Tyre size||245/40 R18|
|Tyre pressure monitoring||Yes|
|Four airbags, ABS, EBD, traction control||Yes|
|Parking sensors with a reversing camera||Yes|
|Bang and Olufsen infotainment system|
|Push button start|
Let’s look at what could be downers for the A5 Cabriolet. The rear seats could get cramped for tall passengers and boot storage is limited to soft bags mostly. Also, noise pollution could get to you since your ears are in for a treat as our country just loves honking. Plus, you could be frantically trying to get the roof up when heavy vehicles spew out black clouds of exhaust fumes.
On the contrary, chances are that once you start owning the A5 Cabriolet, you will begin hanging around your car more often than not. After all there’s an inherent charm in the convertible body-style. Then there’s the flamboyant open-air driving experience, the comfortable front seats with superb front/side visibility and the great quality/design of the interiors. Don’t forget that it gets an efficient (read diesel) motor that makes driving effortless, and is frankly the only diesel convertible currently. For those of you who’re looking at parking this car in your garage, for Rs 67.51 lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai), it will unquestionably make your life flashier, maybe even more than your wildest dreams.
I will leave it at this for now!
Pictures by Kapil Angane