The Car Guide recently had the chance to test drive the new 2018 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolets on the sun-baked roads of Spain’s Andalusia region. Before we get into the details, how about a little background?
This tandem of convertibles represents just one-third of the A5 and S5 versions expected in Quebec in the next few months. Audi dealerships will also get the A5 and S5 coupes, as well as the A5/S5 Sportback. While they've been in circulation in Europe since 2009, these variants are not as well-known on our side of the pond.
- Also: 2018 Audi A5 and S5 revealed
- Also: Four Doors and a Coupe profile: This is the Audi A5 Sportback
The A5 and S5 coupes and cabriolets have only two doors, which makes sense since that’s the main difference between them and A4 sedan. But the A5/S5 Sportback sets itself apart with its four-door configuration and rear hatch.
Imagine a sedan with the coupe-style roof and wagon-style tail end. That’s what the Sportback looks like. It’s a stylish crossbreed that exists essentially as Audi’s answer to the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.
All six of these clan members will arrive together to celebrate the long overdue second-generation A5/S5 (the first generation dates back to 2007).
The original version was designed by the famous Walter de Silva, who worked his way up the ranks all the way to head of the Volkswagen Group’s design department before leaving in 2015. He once declared that the A5 was the greatest success of his career, which is undoubtedly why they paid so much respect for his work by leaving it almost entirely untouched all these years (with the exception of a minor refresh in 2013).
That brings us to the 2018 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet.
Beautiful and spacious
Convertibles have never been known for roominess in the back seats, but these Audis have a surprisingly spacious bench. It goes without saying that every millimetre counts, so it’s worth noting that the wheelbase and overall length have increased by 14 and 47 mm, respectively.
In a word, the 2018 Audi A5 and S5 looks sportier, but they didn’t sacrifice any of the classic elegance that made the model an instant success. Its elegantly assertive appearance is confirmed by a straighter and larger front grille. It complements the slightly bigger and athletically striated hood.
On the sides, notice the ridge that runs from the gap in the hood, under the windows and all the way to the subtle integrated spoiler. It’s a thing of beauty. Finally, the bulging wheel arches flex to show off the 18- or 19-inch wheels.
Some may say that the new generation doesn’t distance itself enough from the first, but who would dare to mess with de Silva’s iconic masterpiece?
The hood is one of the new cabriolet’s most noteworthy characteristics. For 2018, Audi has improved its soundproofing to counter noises and persuade drivers to use this car in winter. The top is available in four colours (black, red, grey and brown).
If you decide to lower or raise the top while driving between 6 and 50 km/h, all you have to do is touch the button on the floor console. They made it so that you don’t have to hold it down, as a means of preventing driver distraction. But if you’re stopped, you’ll have to hold the button down for the entire 15 seconds it takes to open—or the 18 seconds it takes to close.
Send in the cavalry!
The engines used in the A5/S5 family range from 190 to 354 horsepower (awaiting the return of the Audi RS 5). There are a few diesels in the group, but Canadians will have to settle for two gas engines.
The A5 comes with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged TFSI that now delivers 252 horsepower (instead of the previous version’s 220) and 273 lbs.-ft. of torque. You can pair it with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic gearbox.
The S5 features the 3.0-litre V6 TFSI with a turbo replacing the old supercharger to produce 354 horsepower (instead of 333) and 369 lbs.-ft. of torque. It’s married to an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox with manual mode.
While the A5 can go from 0-100 km/h in six seconds, the S5 will easily shave more than a second off of that time. Although the Canadian fuel consumption figures haven’t been released yet, we’re guessing that the four-cylinder will average 8 L/100 km highway and 11 L/km city, especially since 40-odd kilos were shed during the makeover.
In addition to the quattro all-wheel drive transmission that comes on every A5/S5 offered in Canada, an optional sport differential increases stability on corners and optimizes the amount of torque sent to the outside wheel. The driver can also program the handling using the Audi Drive Select switch built into the dashboard. Depending on your selection, it adjusts the vehicle’s main components and their responses, including lowering the chassis. Finally, all active safety systems are present and accounted for, with some being factory standard and others optional.
At the end of the day, this car is docile and comfortable. The electromagnetic steering takes away some of the thrill, but none of its liveliness is lost. If you want to hear the incredible sound of the quadruple exhaust—the one that makes you feel like you’ve got a score to settle with the pavement —you’ll have to opt for the S5.
Otherwise, serenity and safety are the watchwords for this vehicle. To prolong rides in the open air after summer’s end, Audi charmingly drew inspiration from Mercedes-Benz’s Airscarf system and pierced the top of its front bucket seats with vents that blow hot air onto your shoulders. There are also miniature microphones in the front seatbelts so that you can use the hands-free phone without wind turbulence interfering with your conversation.
The 2018 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet are tempting, as are their hardtop and Sportback siblings. The basic versions in this lineup range in price from $59,640 to $71,490.