Sporty, handsome and powerful all describe the Audi S5 Cabriolet aptly, but what is it like to live with day-to-day?
Why we’re running it: To see if the fast A5 is as fun to drive every day as it is handsome and plush
Life with a S5 Cabriolet: Month 3
Staying warm while looking cool in the S5 – 25 October 2017
The arrival of autumn is a reminder of how cold cabrios can get when the weather turns.
I’ve been finding this out in the Audi S5, and discovering at the same time the usefulness of the rear windbreak, which I was previously rude about.
With it in place, you can cope in cold weather with the top down, so I like it now. Wish it looked better, though.
Life with a S5 Cabriolet: Month 2
Healing the S5 Cabriolet’s battle scars – 20 September 2017
The Audi came into sharp contact with a deer a couple of weeks ago, as you might have heard.
Killed the animal, sadly, and mangled the S5’s frontal plastics, but at least the airbags didn’t go off.
Audi’s phone recovery service was prompt and immaculate: the car was collected within couple of hours and now its repair is largely complete. We’re looking forward to its return.
Fine-tuning the S5 Cabriolet configuration – 23 August 2017
It has taken a while, but I’ve finally got to grips with the configurable driving controls essential to full enjoyment of any Audi S5, and especially the cabrio, which is unusually satisfying at both extremes of its performance.
Often in the cabrio, in the same half day, you’ll first need to cruise a motorway, top up to cut wind rush and other people’s tyre noise while the engine pulls fuel-saving low revs in eighth gear.
If you’re lucky, your journey will take you to a place where you can glide quietly along country roads with the top down, enjoying rural sights, smells and vistas before maybe finishing the day with a sprint on favourite roads – for which you need full access to the 3.0-litre turbo V6’s 349bhp, via a transmission now configured so that it both sharpens throttle responses and isn’t nearly as keen on finding eighth gear for delivering maximum economy.
The transmission part is easy: pull the lever backwards and you’ll get Sport, which will either let you change manually on the shift paddles or give you an auto regime that ensures that the engine is nearly always operating between maximum torque and maximum power, with the smooth bark from the S5’s impressively purposeful quad exhausts curling up to your ears across the car’s rear deck.
But it’s how you use the Drive Select control, awkwardly located a stretch away on a little panel just above the centre console, that makes an even bigger difference.
Press it, and you’ll be offered a chance to select Comfort, Auto or Dynamic settings for the engine and gearbox, the suspension (magnetic shocks), the electric power steering, the rear diff (which tames wheelspin and dispenses torque vectoring) and the engine sound.
You’ll soon tire of changing these settings all the time, especially since the switch stays live for only four seconds, which is too short a time if (like me) you are not especially dextrous.
The solution is to decide your own settings for these five functions and then freeze them under the Individual selection.
If you care about such minutiae – and you will once you get to know the car – it takes time to reach an ideal. Mine is engine set to Dynamic, suspension to Auto (which assesses road surface action and makes its own decision), steering to Dynamic, diff to Auto and engine sound to Dynamic.
My result is a sporty but fairly subdued engine, a quickened throttle response, firm steering that suits the system’s quick gearing and a diff that does as much as it can to keep me on line when powering energetically out of corners. So far, I’m really pleased with the car, which couldn’t be better summer transport.
Interestingly, Mr Editor Tisshaw, who has also done quite a few miles in this car, prefers Normal for steering and powertrain, saying that the car feels rather snatchy and ‘digital’ with the settings I prefer.
He’s fresh from an M-Sport BMW 3 Series that, he reckons, followed a driver’s desires more naturally. I’m not arguing: the main thing is that the Audi can accommodate us both.
Those who meet the S5 for the first time wonder if it needs to be so big, ignoring the fact that you can buy an S3 cabrio if compactness is your priority. But I’m enjoying our car’s character as a generously proportioned (fast or slow) cruiser. Hope the summer lasts.
Life with a S5 Cabriolet: Month 1
Welcoming the S5 Cabriolet to our fleet – 26 July 2017
I’ve never had an Audi before. Nothing sinister about that; just that other people here got up earlier, which says something about the fundamental desirability of the marque in all its guises.
However, when the idea of being the de facto owner of the Audi S5 Cabriolet came up, I have to confess I was excited.
Of course, I already knew drop-top S5s were handsome, sporty and powerful, but this recently revised, slightly larger model’s combination of an all-new 349bhp 3.0-litre turbo petrol V6, a nice, controllable eight-speed ZF paddle shift auto, and Audi’s latest infotainment system was enticing, to say the least.
The arrival of decent summer weather at about the same time as our car was a bonus.
Choosing the car’s spec was as challenging as ever for someone configuring a £50,000 Audi. Any S5 comes well equipped, but we paused before we chose the handsome and rich Navarra Blue as the exterior colour (too dark for the summer?) and the …read more