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The Top Gear car review:Audi A5 Cabriolet
For:Build quality, refinement, interior, design.
Against:Not as sharp as its key rivals, expensive.
What is it?
It’s possible there are stones out there as yet unturned, but in the world of premium German automobiles you’ll struggle to find them. Audi’s upper-middle A5 Coupe arrived a decade ago, and along with its Sportback and Cabriolet siblings has quietly established itself as a seductive alternative to whatever finely sliced iteration of BMW 3 and 4 Series or Mercedes C-Class previously floated your boat.
The A5 Cabriolet sits at the top of the hierarchy, and grabs the baton from the recently arrived new A5 and S5 Coupe. If – like us – you think Audi’s design language has lately become over-evolved, there’s a confident simplicity to the new cabrio’s form, particularly at the front. It also looks surprisingly punchy in brighter (ie: not silver) colours. Increased performance, improved efficiency, greater dynamism: Audi reckons it has squared the circle here.
The body structure uses an aluminium-steel hybrid, shaving up to 55kg off its dry weight. Highlights include reworked multilink front and rear suspension, a start-stop system that works during coasting as well as at a standstill (and cruise control that can go into ‘freewheeling’ mode), and a 40 per cent improvement in torsional rigidity. No fat-arse-inducing folding metal roof here, either: the multi-layered ‘acoustic’ hood opens with one button push in 15 seconds and closes in 18 at speeds up to 31mph. There are so many assistance systems (30, in fact) that you’d need assistance assistance to get through them all (predictive efficiency assist anyone?), and enough infotainment and connectivity to placate the most attention deficient of millennials.
Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit is an option, however, and seven different technology ‘packs’ threaten to rocket the cost of the car into the stratosphere. Significantly, the new A5 also sees the debut of Audi’s ‘car-to-X’ software, in which a pre-installed SIM collects data, bounces it into a Cloud-based server for collation and analysis, before it’s relayed to other similarly-specified Audis. An example of so-called ‘swarm intelligence’, the system advises of looming traffic hazards or accidents, priming the car’s assistance systems if necessary. If you’re the sort of person who names their car, you might want to call your new Audi A5 cabriolet Orwell.