Germans are a special kind of people. They are so fascinated by numbers and technology that my jaw drops every time I speak to an engineer from the land of the bratwurst. Audi has just turned the new A5 and S5 into convertibles and, obviously, they state that they are better in every single way compared to their respective predecessors. High Velocity went to a depressingly cloudy Spain and forced to dry our tears with a 354 horsepower V6 and balmy winds.
We arrived in Jerez de la Frontera with hopes of a cloud-free and clear blue sky but were instead welcomed with rain and some Spaniards valiant attempts at trying to communicate with us in German. We quickly found shelter indoors and were told that the new A5 and S5 Cabriolet is lighter, roomier, and has more torsional rigidity than the predecessor. The soft-top can be operated at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour which is deeply impressive. Moreover, its more well-isolated than Metallica’s recording studio. Audi calls it an Acoustic Soft-top Roof, I call it brilliant. With the soft-top, they have managed to turn questions regarding surroundings, road noise and wind noise irrelevant.
In Europe, the A5 is sold with a wide array of engines with the most interesting obviously being the V6’s. We tried the three-liter diesel with 286 horsepower which turns the A5 into an extraordinarily relaxed cruiser. The suspension is pleasantly supple and the engine is both quiet and smooth. At the same time, it develops more torque than the hormonal S5. Armed with that knowledge, I didn’t expect there to be such a massive difference between an A5 3.0 TDI and a S5, but I was mistaken. The S5 is explosive, significantly stiffer and much louder. With the roof stowed away, the experience intensifies which is as joyful as a hamburger after a hunger strike. The A5 3.0 TDI is like Lisa (Simpson); calm and level-headed. The S5, on the other hand, is like Bart; playful and mischievous.
Folding away the roof comes with cloudless perks but also at a price in the shape of 16 gallons of boot space. The space is deep but only a few inches high. The back seat can actually be used by small folk, as opposed to other “four-seater” convertibles. Even those who are more averagely sized can fit, as long as they don’t sit behind someone who’s 10 feet tall.Another significant advantage is the complete lack of wind noise when driving with the roof down. Usually, driving on the highway in a convertible can be compared to pulling one’s nails, one by one. A5 and S5 Cab are blessed with some type of god-like power since the difference between standing still and cruising at 100 miles per hour is next to none. Instead of my hair looking like it had spent the past day in a hurricane, it was pretty much intact.
Some small, yet clever details are microphones on the seatbelts so the hands-free works better, 30 sensors which constantly monitor the cars surroundings and Audi’s new Car-to-X-system. The latter is Audi’s own communications system which works in Audi’s newer models. For instance, if the car would sense that the road is slippery, it sends that information to cars in the area. It’s a great initiative but won’t really do wonders until all manufacturers use the same system.
When we finally got back to Audi’s airplane, we were greeted warmly by the flight attendants: ”Not you again…” Per usual, High Velocity leaves a lasting impression. On the plane came the time to conclude my first impressions of the A5 and S5 Cabriolet. I thought about it long and hard but didn’t manage to find anything wrong with the car, as a convertible it is perfect if one uses the A5 Coupe as frame of reference. It’s impossible to find an objective imperfection. Audi has in other words built one of the best convertibles I have ever driven. We’ll have to wait until the summer to test it for longer and try to disprove that theory.