Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet 2016 review
Paul Gover gets behind the wheel of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet at its international launch
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With last year's release of the new A4 on a brand-new platform, we braced ourselves for a stream of new cars based on the elegant sedan. And so it has happened - S4, A4 Avant, A4 Allroad, A5 Sportback, A5 Coupe and now the A5 Cabriolet. All that's left is the RS4 and the metamorphosis is complete.
The A5 Cabriolet is a relaunch of sorts - the drop-top hasn't been with us for a while, leaving us in the clutches of BMW's 4 Series (with its hard-shell convertible roof) and Mercedes' C-Class Cabriolet (soft top). Audi reckons just 10 per cent of A5s will be the Cabriolet, leaving the lion's share to the two-door coupe and five-door hatch - but we're a fickle bunch and might suddenly decide we like them more than that.
|Audi A5 2017: 2.0 Tfsi Quattro S Tronic Sprt|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The new A5 is a more shapely machine than the design classic it replaces, with Audi's new-found fondness for the clamshell-style bonnet and what the company calls the 'Tornado line' along its flanks. It's still sharp and stands apart from the less well-resolved German competition.
Curiously, this isn't as good looking as any of the current A5s or even the Cabriolet it replaces. The higher rear end which has to accommodate the roof gear throws the visual balance out of the profile. Even with 18-inch wheels, it looks a little top-heavy (19s would go a way towards fixing that). If you walk around, though, and really get down low and in front, it does look pretty good, and it's even not bad with the roof up.
Inside is virtually identical to the Coupe's cabin, which is to say very good indeed. Audi continues to lead the way with classy interiors, with judicious use of finishes and horizontal lines to produce a calm, measured passengers space. Materials are excellent - if it looks like metal, it is - with lovely soft leather and only one or two plastic panels that feel scratchy (but we had to go looking for them).
Being a convertible, sacrifices must be made, and not the Humphrey Appleby type. While Audi will tell you that it's a four-seater, it's really a 2+2. Which is, you know, okay, and means that the +2s will be fine for short journeys if they have a bit of limb flexibility.
Front-seat occupants enjoy a pair of cupholders and deep door pockets that will take bottles at a pinch. Those front seats are very comfortable and for an "entry" level, very comfortable and much better-looking than the basic seats in an A4. The seatbelt presenters, which proffer your safety strap when you get in the front seats, are a nice touch, too - so nice a touch, the lady of the house felt compelled to thank them every time.
Rear-seat passengers, while missing out on head and leg room (well, headroom with the top up, at least) have their own temperature controls and air vents, two cupholders and a slot under the armrest where a phone can go.
The boot is a surprising 380 litres and you can thank the choice of soft-top rather than a hard lid for that.
The second step in the Cabriolet range (there's a less powerful 2.0 TFSI FWD and a turbo V6 S5 version), the 2.0 TFSI quattro is likely to be the biggest seller, although Audi concedes there won't be a stampede if history is anything to go by.
For $95,000 you get 18-inch alloys, three-zone climate control, Audi's excellent 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital dashboard, 8.3-inch MMI screen with 10-speaker stereo, leather trim, heated front seats with electric adjustment, keyless entry and start, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, neck warmers (no, really), cruise control, a comprehensive safety package and a space-saver spare wheel.
Our car had the Assistance Package, too. For $2470, the factory will add adaptive cruise with stop-start (it's semi-autonomous, driving you in traffic with a bit of prompting and your steering effort), active lane-keeping and turn assist (stops you turning into oncoming traffic).
We also had the Qi charging mat for compatible phones (hello iPhone 8 and iPhone X owners, and a few Android phones) and a tasty set of 18-inch alloys for $550.
A 0-100km/h run will pass in a claimed 6.3 seconds.
Audi's claimed figure for the quattro is 6.7L/100km and 154g/km for the CO2 output. I didn't quite manage that - I got 9.1L/100km in a mix of city and highway driving, a fairly solid miss.
As with most cars fitted with this engine, the stop-start cuts in and you coast from 6km/h down to zero without engine assistance.
If it's serene progress you're after, the A5 Cabriolet is the car for you. This is possibly the smoothest, quietest four-seat (ahem) convertible on the planet until you're spending really big money.
Everything about it is quiet - on a top-down evening cruise at about 70km/h and the wind deflector in place (thereby ensuring an empty rear seat), the lady of the house and I were able to conduct a whispered conversation as though the back seat was occupied and we didn't want the occupant to hear. It was quite startling when we remembered the roof was off.
Roof up it's almost as quiet as the coupe and feels almost as stiff, too. There's no rubbing or sqeaking where the roof meets the header rail and it seals shut nice and tight. Wind noise is lower than plenty of fixed head cars we drive on a regular basis.
Over the shoulder vision isn't too flash, however, with a wide, dark C-pillar when the roof is up. Roof down, though, the world is all there for you to see.
Despite having a decent amount of power, this isn't meant as a car to get you excited. The suspension is fairly easygoing, the steering light and easy, and the ride plush. It will move when you ask it - and it will move quickly - so in that way it's an all-rounder, it just won't tear up the tarmac. Which is fine, that's not what it's for.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
The Cabriolet loses curtain airbags for perhaps obvious reasons, so the convertible makes do with four airbags (dual front and side), ABS, stability and traction controls, AEB with pedestrian detection, reverse AEB, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, two ISOFIX points and top-tether points. The A5 also features Audi's system to stop you opening your door onto a cyclist or approaching car.
There are also a pair of roll hoops that will blow from behind the rear headrests if you manage to capsize.
Neither ANCAP or EuroNCAP has separately tested the Cabriolet version, so there isn't a star rating, meaning our safety score is based on the high specification offered. The A4/A5 pairing on which the Cabriolet is based scored five ANCAP stars.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist. Servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km. You can purchase a three-year/45,000km service plan for $1670, which works out at $556 per year.
The A5 Cabriolet is quite the boulevardier. It's been quite a while since I've driven such a calm car and its effect on me - apart from the sunburn - was marked. It's not a car you feel the need to rush in, and with the top down on a nice drive it's almost unbeatable, partly because you can take tolerant people with you.
|1.8 Tfsi||1.8L, PULP, CVT AUTO||$40,800 – 52,140||2017 Audi A5 2017 1.8 Tfsi Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Quattro||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$46,200 – 58,410||2017 Audi A5 2017 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 Tfsi Quattro S Tronic Sprt||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$40,990 – 62,900||2017 Audi A5 2017 2.0 Tfsi Quattro S Tronic Sprt Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 Tfsi S Tronic Sport||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$39,990 – 68,000||2017 Audi A5 2017 2.0 Tfsi S Tronic Sport Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|