When Audi debuted its second-gen A5 Cabriolet, we were impressed with how much better it looked than its predecessor. While the first-gen A5 Coupe was a beautiful car, the Cabrio variant always looked a bit like an afterthought. So it was never really the looker the Coupe was. Now, though, this second-gen car looks properly pretty and good enough to make it one of the best looking convertibles on the market. But looks aren’t everything and there’s another handsome and capable ‘vert in the segment in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet. So is the new Audi A5 Cabrio good enough to take on its rival from Stuttgart? Auto Express finds out.
Both cars in the test are equipped with their four-cylinder diesel engines and automatic gearboxes. That means a 2.0 liter turbocharged diesel in the Audi A5, making 187 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. For the Benz, it’s a 2.1 liter turbo-diesel that makes 168 hp and 295 lb-ft. The Audi A5 Cabrio’s gearbox is a seven-speed dual-clutch unit while the Benz gets a nine-speed torque-converter automatic. So the Audi shifts faster but the Mercedes has more ratios to play with. That extra gearing helps the Mercedes be just a tick quicker than the Audi to 60 mph, doing the sprint in 7.9 seconds, compared to the A5’s 8.0 flat, despite the Mercedes being heavier.
In terms of interior ride comfort, the Mercedes-Benz is the more comfortable to ride around in. Its suspension is soft and its chassis is composed, even with the torsional rigidity loss of the Convertible top. Chassis flex is less of an issue in the Mercedes and it’s even quieter on the inside with the roof up. That doesn’t mean the Audi A5 Cabrio is bad, though. Its ride may be firmer but it actually handles sharp bumps better and is far more flat and composed through corners. So while the A5 is firmer, it’s the more enjoyable car to drive quickly. It’s the sports car of the two.
Inside, both cars offer superb cabins that are equally good in their own way. The Audi A5’s is smart and clean, with a minimalistic approach that’s both attractive and incredibly functional. Audi’s MMI infotainment system is also superior to Mercedes’ COMAND system, as it features better graphics, a more intuitive user interface and a much better navigation system with Google Earth functionality. Oh, and there’s the Virtual Cockpit which is way cooler than Mercedes’ digital instrument cluster. However, the Mercedes fights back with some interesting features, chief of which is the Air Scarf that blows warm air on the back of the front passengers’ necks so as to keep them warm even with the top down in chilly weather. Clever stuff.
Overall, Auto Express gives the win to the Mercedes-Benz for its better ride quality, better top-down rigidity and cool features like the Air Scarf. With the type of customers that typically buy these cars, that’s probably the right answer. Most convertible customers want something good looking, comfortable and easy to drive. However, if you want a sportier ride that’s a bit cheaper and with better technology, the Audi A5 Cabriolet is probably the way to go.