“The Audi A5 Cabriolet is stylish choice for sun-seekers rather than thrill-seekers”

Pros

  • Sleek, desirable looks
  • Superb build quality
  • Economical engines

Cons

  • Noticeable body flex
  • Not the sharpest drive
  • Dated infotainment system

Audi and its direct German rivals BMW and Mercedes sweep up most buyers in the four-seat convertible market, thanks to models with a mix of practicality and space while still offering the enjoyment of open top motoring.

Audi has a long line of cabriolet models going back to the nineties, with various badges until we arrive at the current generation Audi A5 Cabriolet. It’s the sister car of the Audi A5 Coupe, and there’s also a practical four-door Audi A5 Sportback in the range. Key competitors include the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet; all three offer fabric roofs without the option of a hard-top.

Buyers wanting a cabriolet with lower running costs may like the A5 for its slimmed-down and simplified range, with a 2.0-litre petrol in three power outputs and the option of a single frugal diesel.

Although the exterior changes seem trivial, there’s far more to discuss under the surface. Front-wheel-drive and quattro four-wheel-drive versions are available, and a seven-speed S tronic gearbox is standard for all versions. After having the trim levels slimmed down along with the engine options, prices now begin at just under £45,000 making the entry Sport model slightly cheaper than the BMW 4 Series Convertible.

Inside, not only is there a 10.1-inch display, but Audi’s Virtual Cockpit places a 12.3-inch display ahead of the steering wheel that can also provide navigation, somewhat negating the need for the centrally mounted screen. The sleek interior is filled with premium materials and a clean design that shrugs off any suggestion that this generation has been out for six years. There’s plenty of space in the front, but less in the back – although the A5 Cabriolet doesn’t really suffer more than its rivals in this regard.

Comfort is impressive, though. Noise is low even with the roof down, and putting it up is simple and quick when the weather takes a turn for the worst. With the roof up, it becomes almost identical to the coupe, albeit with a little less room in the back. The 2.0-litre petrol has three power outputs, with the most powerful reserved for the highest specification, but even the entry Sport model impresses. Those looking for the larger wheels of mid level S-Line and top trim Edition 1 should note they add noticeable tyre roar.

audi a5 cabriolet review

Rather more disappointing is that a bugbear of the previous A5 Cabriolet doesn’t seem to have been fully addressed – it’s still not as memorable a car to drive as the BMW 4 Series Convertible and doesn’t quite feel as rigid as the A5 Coupe. You can feel a shimmying sensation as the bodywork flexes slightly, too – although this is true of other four-seat convertibles, it’s a disappointment in light of Audi’s claims of increased stiffness.

Despite these criticisms, there’s no doubt that the A5 is a very desirable car. It’s better-looking than ever, with build quality that’s second-to-none. All engine options are now more economical than ever, and although the most powerful is now the 2.0-litre petrol, few will miss the higher powered S5 Cabriolet.

Audi’s strong image means residual values are high, and with service plans available, ownership costs shouldn’t be astronomical. There’s a long list of standard and optional safety equipment, too, and when you factor in its impressive boot, the A5 Cabriolet makes a remarkably sensible soft-top choice.

Buyers of the Audi A5 Cabriolet must have made it clear that they want their upmarket soft-top to be discreet and affordable to run. Improvements to the Audi A4 range – a model aimed squarely at company-car buyers – have made the A5 a pretty sensible option. Fuel-efficiency is highest on the diesel model, although the petrol options are not as far away as they used to be.

Audi A5 Cabriolet MPG & CO2

All engines now come with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, and the range kicks off with a 148bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that achieves up to 40.4mpg. CO2 figures for the entry petrol model are 159g/km. This figure is nearly identical for the diesel model, however the 2.0 TDI engine is now limited to the top specification Edition 1 model, which returns up to 46.3mpg.

The emissions figures for both diesel and petrol will mean a high BiK rating no matter which version you choose, putting the A5 in the top bracket for company-car tax. This is a result of the slimmed down range and a shifting tax system which penalises vehicles that aren’t electric or hybrid.

Buyers should also remember that because the A5 Cabriolet range now starts above the £40,000 threshold, it attracts a VED (road tax) surcharge from years two to six. As all models fall into this surcharge, those wanting the more powerful 40 and 45 TFSI models, won’t face as many additional tax costs compared with the 35 TFSI model.

Insurance

Additional risks for insurance companies of having to replace the roof in the event of an accident, and the additional risk of damage from an attempted break-in make the cabriolet slightly more expensive to insure. Grouping starts at 30, instead of 26 for the Coupe, and goes to 33 for the more powerful petrol models. This is inline with the BMW 4 Series Convertible; the BMW 420i SE Convertible starting in group 30.

Servicing

All Audi models require regular servicing, with the option of yearly servicing for motorists who cover fewer than 10,000 miles a year, or variable for higher-mileage motorists. On the latter scheme, oil changes will be no less frequent than every 19,000 miles. Your dealer will advise you as to the right service schedule for you and will be happy to arrange a service plan to help spread the cost of regular servicing.

Warranty

All Audis come with a warranty for three years/60,000 miles, although you can extend this to a four-year/75,000-mile or five-year/90,000-mile policy at extra cost. We feel that Audi’s standard warranty offer is rather less than generous – Mercedes and BMW both have no mileage limit on their warranties and non-premium companies are often more generous – Hyundai offers a five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty with every new car, for example.

While always regarded as a fast and comfortable motorway cruiser, the Audi A5 Convertible has never been celebrated as a driver’s car. However, Audi claims the latest version is much improved in terms of body control and that its structure is 40% stiffer than the previous A5’s.

With its new platform, the latest A5 Cabriolet is up to 55kg lighter than the previous car, and this clearly gets it off to a good start, because it can barely be distinguished from the coupe during normal driving. The steering is precise, but feels rather lifeless, however there’s next to no body lean in corners and you never feel likely to run out of grip – even more so with the quattro four-wheel-drive system.

On UK roads, the S line model is firm around town, but it settles on the motorway to allow comfortable cruising. Larger 19-inch alloy wheels notably increase road noise, but the three-layer roof is excellent at boosting refinement and there’s very little engine noise. Opt for the Edition 1 trim and you’ll get even larger wheels, which give the exterior design an uplift, but make the ride even firmer than the S line model.

Audi’s optional Adaptive Comfort Suspension allows the driver to choose between a softer or firmer ride, but even in the sportiest mode, the A5 is some way off the Audi TT Roadster for driving entertainment.

There are circumstances where you miss the extra stiffness the roof of the coupe provides, and without it certain mid-corner bumps and more demanding bends can cause the body to shake and shimmy – which you can feel through the controls.

This is a characteristic shared with most large convertibles, but it’s a shame that it prevails despite all Audi’s development work. But as it’s only really noticeable on very rough or challenging roads, it shouldn’t necessarily put you off. However, enthusiastic drivers will be better served by the Audi A5 coupe, or better still, the BMW 4 Series Coupe or Convertible.

Audi A5 Cabriolet diesel engines

No A5 Convertible is short on power – even the 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel boasts 201bhp, enough for 0-62mph in just 7.6 seconds. Although there’s no escaping that four-cylinder diesel rattle when cold or when pulling away, once on the move the noise abates and is unobtrusive when cruising. It makes a good engine for sustained and economical high-speed cruising. The S tronic automatic gearbox impresses with its supremely fast gearchanges, which feel just as good as they do in an Audi R8 supercar.

Petrol engines

Convertibles generally suit the quieter idle of a petrol engine, for a less intrusive noise when stopped in traffic. The A5 Cabriolet is now limited to a single 2.0-litre petrol engine, available in 35, 40, and 45 TFSI versions. Power ranges from 148bhp to 261bhp, with the 201bhp middle range 40 TFSI being the sweet spot between power and efficiency. This also brings the 0-62mph dash down to 7.5 seconds, from 9.8 in the lower-powered model. If this still isn’t fast enough then the 45 TFSI manages the same run in six seconds flat.

There is no longer an S5 convertible for new car buyers; those looking on the used market will find the six-cylinder petrol S5 that was discontinued when a diesel engine arrived in the S5 Coupe and Sportback models. When available, the S5 Cabriolet may have had a powerful engine, but it was unlikely to be an enthusiast’s choice, with softened suspension in an attempt to improve the ride quality. In the end, most buyers opted for the S5 Coupe model, leaving little demand for the S5 convertible. If you do find one, you’ll at least own a relatively rare car.

The Audi A5 and the A4 to which it’s closely related have always had an enviable reputation for providing a comfortable, high-quality interior, and this latest version does nothing to blot the A5’s copybook. We also found the ride to be smooth when 17-inch alloy wheels were fitted, while 19-inch wheels cause more bumps to be felt inside – especially around town.

The roof itself merits special mention – Audi has stuck with a traditional fabric roof, but it has three layers and internal sound insulation panels to reduce noise when it’s closed. It’s very quiet indeed with the roof up, as well as comfortably warm, although choosing large 19-inch wheels does increase road noise.

With the roof down, it’s still possible to hold a conversation up to motorway speeds, and with the wind deflector in place there’s impressively little noise from the rushing air. Raising the roof couldn’t be simpler, as there’s just one button to press (you don’t even have to hold it down) and the operation takes just 15 seconds. It can be opened or closed while the car is moving at up to 31mph.

Audi A5 Cabriolet dashboard

When it came to ensuring its latest A5 had a top-class interior, Audi had something of a head start. Since its launch, the middleweight convertible has had one of the highest quality, most crisply designed dashboards in the industry and the latest version simply builds on what’s gone before.

Our only criticism is that the fantastic Virtual Cockpit, which takes the place of traditional instruments with a full-colour, user-configurable information display, is so advanced that the console-mounted infotainment display nearby looks a bit old-fashioned in comparison.

It’s still a good system, though, with clear menus and intuitive controls, but we know that a totally redesigned system is likely to appear on the next generation of Audi A6, so it seems probable that a version will trickle down to the A5 at some point in the future.

The Cabriolet’s interior is broadly the same as that of the coupe, but adds few thoughtful touches, such as seatbelt-mounted Bluetooth microphones to prevent your voice being lost in the wind during phone calls. There’s also a neck-warmer that clearly takes its inspiration from the Mercedes ‘Airscarf’ system – although it only appears on the options list.

Equipment

All A5 Convertible trim levels seem relatively generous, with leather upholstery standard across the board. Even the entry-level and now discontinued SE trim was fitted with front and rear parking sensors and the safety of the city pre-sense autonomous braking system. A set of 17-inch alloy wheels were also standard equipment.

The range now starts with Sport, which includes Audi’s MMI infotainment system, as well as a three-month trial of Audi’s connected systems. Power-adjustable sports seats feature and an LED interior lighting package adds ambience when the sun is down and the roof is up. Heated front seats are also handy for those cool mornings, or roof-down night drives.

The sportiest look is possessed by the S line and Edition 1, with the former getting standard 19-inch wheels plus adaptive Matrix LED front lights, along with Audi’s distinctive scrolling LED indicators. Special S line styling flourishes are dotted about inside and out, along with the S insignia embossed into the leather and Alcantara seat upholstery. Lowered, stiffened suspension ensures that S line models have the responses to match their more aggressive looks, although a softer, more ride-friendly ‘comfort dynamic’ setup is a no-cost option.

Alloy wheels grow again to 20-inches in diameter for the Edition 1, which also gets laser headlight technology, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and piano black interior trim inlays. The convertible roof can be chosen in red, black, dark grey and brown, with options depending on the colour of the car to avoid unfortunate colour clashes. The convertible is available in a unique metallic white, which the A5 coupe is denied.

Options

A key option available on all models is Audi’s Adaptive Comfort Suspension. This works in conjunction with Drive Select. The latter is fitted as standard to all models, offering you a choice of settings to determine throttle response and steering assistance to give either a sporty or relaxing feel – or somewhere in between. Adaptive comfort suspension adds another layer of adjustment, enabling you to better tailor the drive to match your mood.

If you drive on the motorway, the Driver Assistance Pack could be helpful thanks to adaptive cruise control (which can drive the car in stop and go traffic below 40mph), autonomous emergency braking for speeds up to 155mph, traffic-sign recognition and lane-keeping assistance.

A convertible is usually chosen by buyers placing enjoyment above practicality, however the A5 Cabriolet does have decent space inside and can carry passengers on shorter journeys without fuss. You won’t be shifting any wardrobes without a trailer, but Audi offers a range of accessories so that lifestyle items such as mountain bikes can be hauled safely.

Audi A5 Cabriolet interior space & storage

A criticism of the original Audi A5 Cabriolet was that rear seat room was less than generous, and while still subject to the same design constraints as that car, the latest A5 is markedly more comfortable for those in the back.

Headroom is a little more restricted when the roof is up than in the coupe, but there’s more space for passengers’ knees by way of compensation. This gives taller occupants more slouching room if they need it. Front-seat passengers, meanwhile, should have no shortage of space, and the driver has plenty of room to use all the controls.

Boot space

Although the awkward shape of the A5 Cabriolet’s boot will limit the size and shape of each individual piece of luggage, its total volume is impressive at a class-leading 380 litres. This reduces to 320 litres when the roof is lowered. By comparison, the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet offers just 260 litres with the roof down and 335 with it in place. A5 buyers may need to use soft luggage, but you’ll be surprised at just how much you can cram in there.

The Audi name has always been synonymous with quality, desirability and cars that hold their value well. However, the truth is that the company doesn’t always seem to offer a faultless customer experience It’s big on safety, though, and the A5 Cabriolet carries much of today’s most up-to-date crash-avoidance technology.

Audi A5 Cabriolet reliability

Although the latest A5 Cabriolet was brand new from the ground up, every aspect is derived from tried-and-tested technology. The quattro four-wheel-drive system is known for its reliability and effectiveness and the engines are shared by the Audi A4, a car expected to sustain high mileages.

It’s disappointing that Audi only managed to place 22nd out of 29 manufacturers scrutinised in our 2022 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. This put them a single place above Mercedes but six places behind BMW for overall satisfaction. Audi does seem to keep buyers content with high build quality though.

Safety

It’s unlikely that the independent crash safety experts at Euro NCAP will ever put the A5 Cabriolet through its rigorous testing regime, but since it shares much of its structure with the Audi A4 saloon, it seems fair to draw parallels with that five-star-rated car.

This reassures us that an A5 Cabriolet should be a very safe way to travel, particularly when you take note of the long list of safety features fitted as standard, with more available optionally. Crucially, all models have ‘pre-sense city’, an autonomous emergency braking system that’s able to bring the car to a safe halt if an obstacle is detected in your path.

A driver assistance package is also available, including active cruise control, collision avoidance assistance and road-sign recognition.

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