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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the 2010 Audi A5/Cabriolet to bring you this firsthand driving report. Editors also relied on driving experience with competitive vehicles to compare the Audi coupe and convertible with similar cars. The companion full review includes opinions from a range of sources, collected by editors to bring you the most conclusive view of the A5/Cabriolet on the Web.
High Gear Media obtained a press vehicle from the manufacturer for this review.
The 2010 Audi A5/Cabriolet is the latest two-door coupe and convertible offering from the German automaker. It uses some of the same systems and components as the latest Audi A4 sedan. For the new model year, the A5 range adds the Cabriolet model and a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine in either body style. (High Gear Media reviews the high-performance 2010 Audi S5/Cabriolet separately.) The base Audi A5 coupe now starts at $36,825, while the most expensive A5 Cabriolet V-6 checks in at $44,925, including destination charges. The competition for the A5 hardtop and convertible encompasses the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe/Cabriolet, the BMW 3-Series/335i Coupe and Convertible, and the Infiniti G37 Coupe/Convertible.
More of a grand tourer than a sports car, the 2010 Audi A5/Cabriolet is based on what the head of VW/Audi design calls his "most beautiful car" ever. He's probably right; the A5 has a toned, lean look and a delightfully elegant presence that plays surfaces against curved and clipped lines expertly. The face is expressive, and the equally distinctive tail gives it an almost Camaro-like stance from the rear. Quintessential Audi touches include the LED daytime running lights and, new for this year, LED taillights on most versions. The A5's cockpit is equal to the sheetmetal's high design standard. Inside, the 2010 Audi A5/Cabriolet feels lavish and luxurious, with high-grade materials and plenty of attention to small details like the finely graded instruments and the light grace notes of metallic trim on switches and buttons.
Depending on the body style, the Audi A5/Cabriolet range can be had with a choice of engines, transmissions, and drivetrains. The base Coupe is now a turbo four with all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission. A six-speed automatic is offered. The base Cabriolet is a front-driver with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Add all-wheel drive to the four-cylinder Cabriolet and it gets a conventional six-speed automatic. All of these versions sport a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque that lags a bit in delivering its power when coupled to the CVT. The engine actually works very well with the automatic, executing quick, decisive downshifts; it's the clear preference with the smaller engine. The larger engine is a 265-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 that moves the A5 with authority. It doesn't feel particularly responsive, but it's very quick and unruffled as it pushes the A5 to 60 mph in about six seconds. It's offered only with all-wheel drive and the six-speed automatic.
Hushed, capable engine performance pairs with ride and handling tuned more for ride serenity than taut feel. The A5's steering is light and accurate, though a little slow and without much feedback. The composed ride absorbs most bumps easily, but tackles corners with less enthusiasm. The A5 is very quiet and well isolated from road noise, but with a secure sensation on the highway, and the brakes are powerful. The S-line package promises stiffer suspension settings and better handling, and an optional Drive Select package allows the driver to tune the suspension, steering, and throttle response. TheCarConnection.com's test car had the base suspension and four-cylinder/CVT combination and felt nimble enough for most casual drivers.
Comfort and quality are the Audi's forte, though utility's pinched in Cabriolet versions by the top mechanism, and both coupe and convertible suffer from a small backseat. The Audi A5's front seats are amply snug-and among the best of any coupe its size, with good support and firm, comfortable padding. There's not much headroom for long-torso types, though. The rear seats are simply too small and difficult to get into, and once nestled in them, adults will find almost no legroom and not much more headroom under the hard or soft roof. The Cabriolet is a bit narrower across the back because of the hinges of its folding top. The A5's high shoulders give it a good-sized trunk, though, and the rear seat folds down for plenty of pass-through space. Audi's reputation for high-quality interiors is affirmed in the A5. Surfaces have a low-gloss luster, and the cockpit shows the company's mastery of mixing plastic, leather, and wood in the right proportions.
Neither safety agency has crash-tested the A5/Cabriolet, but it has a comprehensive approach to safety. The coupe sports eight standard airbags, as well as traction and stability control; the Cabriolet lacks the curtain airbags, but comes with larger seat-mounted side airbags and pop-up bars that activate in the event of a rollover. A lane-departure warning system, a blind-spot warning system, radar-based cruise control, adaptive headlamps, and rear parking sensors are optional.
Other standard convenience features on the A5/Cabriolet include three-zone automatic climate control; an intelligent key system; and a 10-speaker sound system with MP3 player inputs. Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) has been updated for the new model year and controls navigation and Sirius Satellite Radio with more understandable logic and fewer spins of the console-mounted click-wheel controller. Among the A5's options are a fantastic 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system; a navigation system with voice control; a panoramic sunroof on Coupe models; and on the Cabriolet, head-level heating built into the seat for driving top-down on cooler days. As for the Cabriolet top itself, it's triple-lined and power-operated, and it cycles up or down in 15 seconds at speeds of up to 30 mph-so there's no excuse for leaving it up, even at stoplights.