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Audi S5 Cabriolet 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.6
Turning a purpose-built sedan or coupe into a cabriolet can be as risky as turning yourself into a headless human, so has Audi achieved enough reward for the risk? And is it worth the extra cash?

Cars are a lot like humans; they tend to operate better with their heads still attached.

If we've learned nothing else from Game of Thrones, it's that a beheading rarely improves someone's mood, and it’s a similar story with non-dedicated convertibles (so cars that aren't the MX-5, or anything like it). Chopping the roof off a car that was originally designed to have one has a negative impact on dynamics.

And when the car is one with a performance flavour, like Audi’s S5, that can be a deal-breaking issue.

Audi, of course, reckons its new S5 Cabriolet is every bit as dynamic as its really very dynamic hardtop siblings (a Coupe and Sportback version have already arrived in Australia), having stripped weight and added plenty of structural reinforcement compared to the outgoing Cabriolet model.

It's still heavier than the roofed versions, though. And slower. So is that a worthy trade for the option of tanning your head?

Audi S5 2017: 3.0 TFSI Quattro
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.5L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$93,390

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The S5 Cabriolet is handsome in a mature kind of way, like Helen Mirren, but lacks the sleek sexiness of the Coupe, although it makes up for it with its powerful front end and silver-ringed everything.

Its lines are undeniably interrupted by its fabric roof, which looks like its perched on top of the body like a cap. Its lines are undeniably interrupted by its fabric roof, which looks like its perched on top of the body like a cap.

Its bigger alloys, red brake callipers and quad silver-tipped exhausts help paint a picture of performance, but its lines are undeniably interrupted by its fabric roof, which looks like its perched on top of the body like a cap.

Inside, though, it’s nigh-on perfect, with beautiful materials and killer craftsmanship at every touchpoint.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

Not very, to be honest.

It’s a two-door, four-seat setup, so backseat riders will be climbing over the folded-down front seats. Once inside, space is a little tight - especially legroom - though they will share two cupholders housed in a permanent seat divider, and they’ll have air vents and their own climate controls.

  • It’s a much better experience for front-seat riders, where there’s plenty of shoulder and head room. It’s a much better experience for front-seat riders, where there’s plenty of shoulder and head room.
  • The S5 Cabriolet is 47mm longer than the previous generation, which does mean there's more cabin space. The S5 Cabriolet is 47mm longer than the previous generation, which does mean there's more cabin space.

It’s a much better experience for front-seat riders, where there’s plenty of shoulder and head room. The S5 Cabriolet is 47mm longer than the previous generation, which does mean there's more cabin space. And despite being narrower than the old car, the cabin is slightly wider.

Up-front riders share two cupholders, and there are sizeable pockets in each door, along with power and USB connection points.

The boot is wide and very shallow, and Audi quotes the space at a maximum 380 litres.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The S5 sits atop the current A5 Cabriolet tree (though an RS5 model will arrive by the end of the year), and as a result there’s plenty of equipment on offer.

$119,111 buys you Audi’s Drive Select with adaptive dampers and Nappa leather seats. $119,111 buys you Audi’s Drive Select with adaptive dampers and Nappa leather seats.

It’ll cost you $119,111 (up from the $105,800 asking price for the Coupe) to climb into one, and that money will buy you 19-inch alloys, Audi’s Drive Select (which switches between driving modes) with adaptive dampers, and Nappa leather seats, which are heated in both front and rear.

Technology is covered by a nav-equipped 8.3-inch screen that pairs with a 10-speaker stereo, and is both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped, along with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3-inch configurable screen that replaces the dials in the driver’s binnacle.

The sport seats in the S5 version mean it does miss out on the neck-level heating that features in the lower-grade models. The sport seats in the S5 version mean it does miss out on the neck-level heating that features in the lower-grade models.

That fabric roof will open in 15 seconds (but closes in 18 seconds), and at speeds of up to 50km/h, and can be operated from the cabin or via a button on the key fob, which is great. But the sport seats in the S5 version mean it does miss out on the neck-level heating that features in the lower-grade models.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

It’s a deadset gem, this engine, a smooth-but-powerful turbocharged 3.0-litre unit that will produce 260kW at 5400rpm and 500Nm at 1370rpm. It pairs with an equally sharp eight-speed tiptronic automatic, and shovels that power to all four wheels.

It’s enough to produce a 5.1sec zero-to-100km/h sprint, and keeping your right foot buried will see it climb to a limited 250km/h.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

That extra power means fuel use is, unsurprisingly, the worst of the A5 range, with the official figure at 7.9 litres per 100km on the claimed/combined cycle - and much, much worse if you drive it the way you definitely will be driving it.

Emissions are pegged at a claimed 179g/km of Co2.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

The S5's engine has been one of our absolute favourites since we sampled it in the Coupe earlier this year, and inserting it into this new Cabriolet hasn’t curtailed our love affair.

The power is instantaneous and constant, partnered by a just-loud-enough-to-not-be-annoying thrum from the exhaust. The power is instantaneous and constant, partnered by a just-loud-enough-to-not-be-annoying thrum from the exhaust.

The power is instantaneous and constant, partnered by a just-loud-enough-to-not-be-annoying thrum from the exhaust, and the slick and quick-shifting eight-speed gearbox helps squeeze every bit of fun out of it. The acceleration is impressive, but what's more so is the fact that there is power hiding everywhere, so every time your prod the accelerator, the S5 leaps forward with no delay.

The steering feels sharp, too, and the (possibly too firm) suspension can be softened, thanks to standard adaptive dampers. And while the rain-slicked streets of South Australia are really no place to truly test its dynamics, the rubber on those 19-inch wheels serves up plenty of grip, even in damp conditions.

Compared to the Coupe, it doesn’t feel as light on its feet. Compared to the Coupe, it doesn’t feel as light on its feet.

The problem? It doesn’t feel quite as light on its feet, nor is it as fast, as its hardtop equivalent, which does leave you thinking that you would need to really, really like being able to go topless to justify the extra money required to buy a less fun to drive Cabriolet.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The S5 Cabriolet attracts the best of the safety kit, starting with dual front and front-side airbags, AEB with pedestrian detection, a driver-fatigue warning system and a tyre-pressure monitoring system all as standard fit.

The hardtop A5 models were awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when crash tested in 2015. The hardtop A5 models were awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when crash tested in 2015.

The $2,470 Assistance pack and $1,255 Parking pack are both standard, too, adding adaptive cruise (with complete stop), active lane keep assist, active collision avoidance and automatic high beams to the list, as well as a 360-degree parking camera and a semi-autonomous parking system.

An active rear cross-traffic alert system and what Audi calls its Exit Warning System - which warns you if a car or cyclist is approaching the area you’re about to open the door into - rounds out the safety gear.

The hardtop A5 models were awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when crash tested in 2015.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Audi S5 Cabriolet falls under Audi’s standard three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and will require a trip to the service centre every 12 under months or 15,000kms. Audi also allows you to pre-pay your maintenance costs for the first three years.

Verdict

For us, this is a tough sell. Good, but not quite as good as the cheaper hardtop models, so you'd want to really like the wind in your hair to spring for the Cabriolet. If you do, though, you'll want for little in the S5, which packs a tech and safety punch that matches its performance. And you'll never tire of that engine.

Do convertibles tempt you, even when they're not as good as hard-roofed versions of the same car?

 

Pricing Guides

$83,935
Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$79,800
Highest Price
$89,990

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $93,390 – 107,360 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $82,720 – 95,040 2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro 3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $79,800 – 89,990 2017 AUDI S5 2017 Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.6
Design7
Practicality7
Price and features8
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety8
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$93,390

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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