‘Fastest i8 on the Nürburgring’ laps 3sec slower than a 2008 Renault Megane. Kind of
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What’s this then?
A convertible version of the Audi A5 Coupe. So it’s based on the same platform as the A4 saloon, estate and Allroad, A5 Coupe and four-door Sportback, and finally the Q5 SUV. German efficiency at its finest, right there.
Indeed. This one is the S5, the quickest Cabriolet until Audi inevitably does an RS5 version. For this generation of S5, the 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and seven-speed tiptronic from the old car were junked in favour of a 349bhp 3.0-litre single-turbo V6 and a more conventional eight-speed automatic.
The S5 Cabriolet is 40kg lighter than the car it replaces, but still a hefty 225kg heavier than the Coupe. This has blunted performance somewhat. They share a 155mph top speed, but the Cabriolet is 0.4secs slower to 62mph, taking 5.1secs in all.
It doesn’t feel massively rapid, if we’re honest, despite the still pretty impressive numbers. Shorter gearing would help; stick it in manual you could quite plausibly cruise at 70mph in second. Not that we’d recommend it.
Does it handle as well as the Coupe?
This is not a bad handling car, far from it. You feel the extra weight brought on by much chassis stiffening (Audi claims a 40 per cent improvement over the old car – it feels it), but it still goes about its business as tidily as you’d hope, if not particularly interactively.
The steering is accurate but lacks meaningful feedback, and there’s ample grip. But despite the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive that promises to send up to 85 per cent of the power rearwards (and optional ‘Sports Differential’ that splits torque between the rear wheels), in the UK you’re rarely going fast enough to feel it working.
It’s a confident, secure performer and far better than the car it replaces, but we reckon best practice is to think of the S5 Cabriolet as a top-spec A5 Cabriolet, rather than the ‘sporty one’. It makes more sense that way. There is a measure of fun to be had by driving it quickly, but it feels more at home wafting – or bowling down the motorway.
How is it at being a convertible?
Bit blustery. I possess more hair than most in the office, and can confirm that should you attempt to drive somewhere with the roof down, you will arrive with a very different hair style than when you set off.
There are no clever wind-breaks like you get in a C-Class drop-top, and the optional wind deflector has to be manually erected and then stowed in the boot when you want to use the rear seats (which, incidentally, are pretty good).
The cabin is excellent, as you’d expect, and wind and road noise are both well managed. As you’re roof-up for 11 months of the year, this is most welcome.
I want a fast cabrio. What else should I be looking at?
The Mercedes-AMG C43. The Audi is a much nicer object, and feels every inch the £50,350 car it is. But the Merc is a mite more exciting. Depends what your priorities are…