Story by Benjamin Greene
Originally published by Dupont Registry: http://www.dupontregistry.com/autos/NewsCenter/NewsCenterDetails.aspx?mmysid=4053
Maybe it shows my age (lack of memory, not years’ worth of experience), but as I approached the 2011 Audi A5 Cabriolet in our parking lot, I immediately thought, “Oh, we got the new A4 Cabriolet.” The Audi A5 Cabriolet looks, feels, and even drives like an updated two-door A4 Cabriolet, a car axed in 2009.
We were always keen on the look of A4 Cabriolet, so it was no surprise that we are also smitten with the A5’s styling. The two cars share a resemblance, but the A4 Cabriolet was more round, where the A5 has sharper creases and bolder lines. Audi went with a soft top. It weighs less, costs less, uses less trunk space, and opens faster than the new hardtop variety. In Audi’s case, with its special acoustic roof, it also offers sedan-like noise levels. We think the soft top adds a little old-school panache. It looks more formal. More exquisite. The fabric top is thick and even features integrated LED lights inside for rear-seat passengers. As a testament to its solidity, the top can open at speeds up to 31 mph (in as little as 17 seconds, we will add).
We felt good about the A5 from the outside, and that feeling kept going once inside. The interior’s design focuses on the driver with a center console and switchgear fixed towards the driver’s seat. Workmanship and materials are top notch and, with 15,000 miles on the odometer (that’s a lot in the press-car world), the interior was showing great resilience. Interior room is ample for the front passengers with comfortable sport seats. As you nearly expect from this class, the backseat is good for kids or short stints for adults. Our only complaint from the interior is the location of the MMI infotainment knob, which was up among the center console controls and not below the shift gate, as we have come to expect.
Everything about the A5 Cabriolet felt spot on; it felt right. Like a conversation with an old friend where no matter how much time has passed, you can pick up where you left off. The ride is balanced, offering a handling-luxury ratio that seems both comfortable and capable. The one chink in the armor is the steering. It feels direct with good feedback and heft at higher speeds but like an old Chevy truck requiring multiple revolutions at lower speeds. The Servotronic steering changes ratios depending on driving circumstances, something we just couldn’t grow accustom to in the Audi A5.
The only engine available is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It delivers 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Normally, we would drive the A5 while dreaming of the S5, but that four-cylinder engine did a remarkable job of quenching our need for speed. The engine shows no lag. It was just a slight second for the transmission to choose one of the eight gears when romping on the throttle and off we went. The eight-speed Tiptronic is standard on cars equipped with Quattro all-wheel drive. If you want front-wheel drive, you will have to opt for the CVT transmission. The automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system add 150 pounds to the car’s curb weight, but it was hardly noticeable, and the car is still capable of returning a remarkable 21 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
Wacky steering ratios aside, that A5 is easy to like. The styling inside and out, handling, comfort, materials, and fabric top are all top notch. It offers only one engine, and although the numbers tell a different story, we are perfectly pleased with its output. Some may mistake it for a new bolder A4 Cabriolet, but we think you should forgive
2.0-liter turbocharged I-4
211 hp @ 4,300 rpm
258 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Everything just feels right...
...except for the steering