Who says a convertible has to be impractical?
The Audi A5 Cabriolet offers seating for four in total, unlike similarly-priced drop-tops like the BMW Z4.
Even more sensibly, it offers all-wheel drive traction to help keep you on the straight and narrow when rain or snow is coming down.
The 45 TFSI quattro is the middle child of the A5 Cabriolet range, itself the middle child of the Audi drop-top range.
If you want to feel the wind in your hair but don’t want to spend quite this much, there’s a front-wheel drive 40 TFSI beneath this plus the soon-to-be-axed A3 Cabriolet range. Likewise, those seeking more excitement can step up to the S5 – there’s also the R8 Spyder, but its pricing is in another stratosphere.
Cosmetic differences include restyled front and rear bumpers and a thicker frame for the grille, which now wears a new honeycomb insert and features ventilation slots above.
All A5 models also now feature Audi’s Matrix LED headlights as standard while inside, there’s the latest version of Audi’s infotainment system with a larger, 10.1-inch touchscreen.
While it’s still older than the 4 Series, for some buyers there’s an immediate tick in the Audi’s column due to its lack of a controversial, double coffin-shaped grille.
Let’s not forget, though, there was a time when Audi’s Singleframe grille was controversial…
The A5 Cabriolet 45 TFSI is priced at $93,000 before on-road costs, while the 40 TFSI is $84,800 before on-roads, and the S5 is $120,000 list.
That means you’re paying $13,500 more than the two-door coupe for the privilege of top-down driving.
The Audi stacks up well against its rivals. The redesigned BMW 4 Series convertible range also has three models, with the 45 TFSI-rivalling 430i priced at a steeper $107,900 before on-roads. Over at Mercedes-Benz, the C300 is priced at $112,300 before on-roads.
While the $13,500 premium over the coupe initially seems steep, the A5’s almost $14,000-19,000 saving over its two key rivals makes it look like a relative bargain.
Our car had just three options: metallic paint ($1990), the extended upholstery package ($780) and natural grey oak wood inlays ($520).
The 45 TFSI doesn’t add much over the base A5 other than a head-up display and all-wheel drive, though the base 40 TFSI is hardly left wanting for features.
Standard kit includes:
- 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- DAB+ digital radio
- Satellite navigation
- Wired Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay
- 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster
- 10-speaker sound system
- Semi-autonomous parking assist
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- Matrix LED headlights with dynamic cornering lights, adaptive high-beam and dynamic indicators
- Proximity entry with push-button start
- Wireless phone charging
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Heated, power-adjustable front sport seats with four-way lumbar and memory for the driver’s seat
- Leather upholstery
- Tri-zone climate control
- Ambient lighting
- Paddle shifters
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Automatic headlights
- Rain-sensing wipers
That’s a comprehensive amount of kit, though there are still some things we’d like to see included like wireless Android Auto and ventilated front seats.
There’s a Premium Plus package, which adds a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, colour-adjustable ambient lighting and Audi’s laser light technology for the headlights. Adaptive suspension is also a standalone option.
While the Audi A5 Coupe and Sportback has a five-star rating from ANCAP, this doesn’t carry over to the Cabriolet. The drop-top remains untested by ANCAP and Euro NCAP.
All A5 Cabriolet models come standard with the following equipment:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Safe exit warning
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go and traffic jam assist
- 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors
The AEB system works at speeds of between 10 and 85km/h for the bulk of its functions, though it’s capable of slowing the vehicle to avoid collisions at up to 250km/h.
First, let’s talk about when you want to let the outside inside.
The soft-top is controlled via two switches on the centre console. One has to be lifted up to open it, the other one is lifted to close it. You can open and close the roof at speeds of up to 50km/h.
It takes 15 seconds to drop the top and 18 seconds to put it back up.
There’s a wind deflector in the boot you can use to cover the rear seats, while front seat occupants enjoy air vents just below their headrests that pump out hot air. Similar to the heated seats, there are three stages of warmth.
These can be a touch noisy at the highest setting, but that’s only because they’re literally right next to your ears. We imagine they work well on cooler nights but we tested this car up in Brisbane, so…
If you’ve forgotten to close the roof after exiting the vehicle, you can use the key fob but you have to be quick. There’s no specific button for it on the fob, and instead you have to continuously hold the lock button within two seconds of locking the car.
We managed to successfully do this the first time we tried but subsequent attempts failed as we didn’t know about the two-second rule, with the roof even stopping halfway through closing on one attempt.
Obviously it requires power to close a roof, however we wonder if Audi could have programmed the roof to be active for a greater length of time after locking the vehicle.
The tan interior of our tester contrasted beautifully with the Navarra Blue exterior and was a welcome change from the ubiquitous black interiors of German luxury cars.
Our A5’s interior was spruced up with the optional extended leather interior, adding leather trim to places like the sides of the centre console, as well as the classy open-pore oak trim.
Its light upholstery contrasts with the dark dash, while a tan headliner keeps the interior feeling light and airy with the top up. The seatbelt buckles are inelegant, however, as they’re black instead of tan and clash with their surrounds.
Material quality is top-notch. Anything not covered in leather or leatherette is finished in rubberised plastic, except for the glove box lid. The headliner is soft, while even the inside of the door pockets has a rubbery lining to prevent rattles. On a related note, the front doors each have a bottle holder that can fit a 600ml bottle.
A classy cabin
We miss the rotary dial but otherwise this interior holds up well.
The dashboard design is typical Audi fare – logically laid out and none too adventurous. There are some elements we’d like to see changed, like the row of generic switchgear towards the bottom of the centre stack that includes two button blanks.
The rotary dial for the MMI infotainment system has gone now that the 10.1-inch screen has touch functionality. That freed up some space on the centre console, and Audi added a small cubby between the cupholders and the shifter.
Initially appearing useless, this ended up being a handy spot for things like parking tickets. If you’re without pockets or a purse, you can also use it to stow your A5’s key.
There’s no centre console bin, per se. Instead, you lift the padded armrest to find a wireless phone charger and a small storage recess. There’s also a USB-C outlet here, while a USB-A outlet can be found at the base of the centre stack.
Audi’s infotainment system and Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster continue to impress. You can toggle between three different styles for the latter, and you can opt for the map to take up almost the entire display.
The infotainment system is attractive, easily navigable, boasts quick response times, and produces a helpful “click” sound when you press a button.
There are a couple of clever touches in the interior. When you start the car, the seat belt holder extends forward to help you reach your belt, though it retracts after just a few seconds.
Also, among the power window controls on the driver’s side you’ll find a button that drops all the windows at once. You can also do this by holding the unlock button on the key fob.
Pull the lever atop one of the front seats and push it forward to access the rear. Audi has also included buttons next to it so you can move the front seats back and forth from your perch in the rear.
If you’re stepping into the second row, best not try to clamber across to the other side of the car.
The rear of the centre console virtually touches the rear seat, providing a difficult obstacle. There’s no centre rear seat, with that space occupied by a hard plastic unit with two cupholders in it. Other touch points back here are soft, however.
Once you’re back there, you’ll find an acceptable amount of room for a convertible. I’m 180cm tall and I had sufficient headroom with the roof up, with a few centimetres clearance between my head and the headliner.
I also had sufficient knee room thanks to the scooped out front seatbacks, though toe room was a little tight and the prominent centre console means you can’t really spread out.
In terms of amenities, there are two USB-A ports and a 12V charging outlet, plus temperature controls. The front seatbacks also have nets.
Maximum luggage space is 375L, so you can still fit a couple of smaller suitcases in there. The roof does eat into the top of the boot slightly when dropped.
There are also buttons in the boot that drop the rear seats, which split 50:50.
The 45 TFSI quattro is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 183kW of power and 370Nm of torque, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and a 12V ‘mild-hybrid’ system.
As you may have gathered from the ‘quattro’ monicker, the 45 TFSI drives all four wheels.
Audi claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.3 seconds.
The A5 is a nice, easy car to drive, with steering that’s not too heavy and handling that’s balanced and neutral.
There’s no noticeable scuttle shake, though there was often a kind of rubber on rubber noise where the frameless windows met the seals.
The ride is a touch firm and you’re made aware if the road is poorly surfaced, and yet it never crashes over bumps. If you’re expecting the last word in isolation you won’t find it here, though you will find a car that communicates what’s going on underneath. That extends to the steering, which has a good amount of feel and nice weighting.
In terms of handling, the A5 is unflappable and always feels poised and polished. Simply point and shoot and the A5 darts around corners and stays hunkered to the road.
Poised and polished
All-wheel drive traction and a quiet cabin make this a pleasant car to drive.
For those seeking greater adjustability, there is the option of adaptive suspension which wasn’t fitted to our tester. With the passive set-up, switching between drive modes only adjusts the throttle response, steering weight and engine noise.
There’s not a dramatic difference between each of the modes. There’s an additional custom mode where you can tailor each of those three items, selecting one of three different levels for each.
There’s a noticeable delay off the line, even in dynamic mode. The dual-clutch automatic then naturally wants to get to the highest gear and stay there. This results in some moments where the car feels like it ought to downshift but doesn’t, as well as some slight vibration.
However, shifts with the dual-clutch are quick and smooth. You rarely feel the need to intervene with the paddle shifters, which is fortunate as they’re stubby little things.
Despite the soft top, little in the way of road noise enters the cabin even at highway speeds. The engine is also refined, with a subdued engine note even in its loudest setting in dynamic mode. That’s fortunate as it’s a rather uninspiring sounding engine.
The lane-keeping assist didn’t seem quite as clever as in other Audis we’ve driven, occasionally getting tripped up by highway bends and not centring properly and resulting in a ping-pong effect.
It was otherwise generally competent and you can choose between two different levels of assistance: Early and Late. Early is assertive, while Late is so subtle as to be virtually useless. You can switch between the two modes on the touchscreen, though there’s no off button for the system.
Saving you precious seconds, the A5 will remember your drive mode and heated seat setting from the last time you ran the vehicle. That’s handy, and it saves you from having to touch Audi’s annoying drive mode selector. It looks like three buttons but it’s just two clunky ones.
Across a mix of suburban, highway and inner-city driving, we averaged 8.8L/100km. A whole day of driving yielded an average of 9.0L/100km.
Both were above Audi’s advertised combined fuel economy rating of 7.4L/100km.
Audi covers the A5 with a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. The company also offers a five-year servicing plan, priced at $2960.
Convertibles are inherently impractical and command a hefty premium over their tin-top siblings. They’re silly, but they’re fun.
The A5 45 TFSI quattro is perhaps a little less silly than some other drop-tops. It undercuts a similarly-specified BMW 4 Series by a decent margin, and also features all-wheel drive traction.
It handles predictably and has an elegant, straightforward interior with low levels of road noise.
We miss Audi’s old rotary dial controller, but the touchscreen does make some functions easier to use and the infotainment overall is slick and responsive.
The styling tweaks have also helped keep the Audi looking fresh and new, without polarising like the BMW 4 Series.
No, the A5 Cabriolet still isn’t a particularly sensible purchase – what convertible is? – but it strikes us as being a bit more sensible than most.
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