BMW 440i Convertible 2016 review
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the 2016 BMW 440i Convertible with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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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|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
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 $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.
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$96,470 – 110,880||2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$85,580 – 98,340||2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$78,980 – 90,750||2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$91,520 – 105,160||2017 AUDI S5 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|
“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?