Modern Art Meets the Pavement — 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet

April 3, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS (BONUS WHEELS) BY BILL VISNIC

If you like your coupes angular, aggressive, of German origin, and powerful enough to back off just about anything challenging you, there’s really only one choice as far as we’re concerned: Audi’s fabulous S5.
Styling is subjective, but just about everybody who knows cars and has any taste at all agrees Audi’s lusciously creased S5 is — short of crazy-money cars like Ferrari and Lamborghini — the best-looking coupe currently on the road.
Meanwhile, the special “S” designation (rather than the milder-performing A5 that originated this luscious shape) brings Audi’s bombastic new supercharged, direct-injected 3.0-liter V-6 that barks about its 333 horsepower as delightfully as any American muscle car, just in a different way.
So while coupe aficionados will certainly hate to see the S5’s shape-defining roof hacked off, the 2010 Audi S5 Cabrio takes all of the S5 hardtop’s glorious attributes and adds that final luxury-performance dimension: the ability to go open-air in 15 seconds.
Audi’s wonderful Quattro all-wheel drive is standard for the S5, mainly to efficiently channel all that marvelous engine’s grunty horsepower. But the S5 Cabriolet adds one more talent to the resume: it’s a thoroughly capable all-weather car. With the traction-enhancing hand of Quattro the S5 Cabriolet chewed up roads with a half-foot of standing snow during our road drive. Wunderbar!
With the 2010 S5 Cabriolet, we think Audi made the right choice in backing off from the recent trend of folding-hardtop technology. The fabric top (raise or lower at speeds up to 30 mph) lends an upscale touch. Audi brags its special Acoustic Roof Technology delivers “interior noise levels on par with a hard top.”
Audi does not fib. The S5 Cabriolet is uncannily silent at speed and the soft top provides outstanding insulation.

In extremely cold weather, once the cabin heated we never felt the hint of a draft or cold spot. And the top’s liner, a rubbery-feeling perforated mesh, looks both techy and expensive.
Four can sit comfortably in the S5 Cabriolet but the front pair enjoys most of the appeal from the car’s magnificent trimmings and detail work. The sport seats have sumptuous leather mixed with grippy alacantra inserts and support perfectly without any fussy adjustable buttons, just one simple 4-way control.
The “fits” where panels come together are remarkably precise and all the S5 Cabriolet’s interior materials look like they had to pass muster of some high-maintenance and cost-is-no-object designer. Everything gives the aura of private-jet-meets-modern-art, and every time you get into the S5 Cabriolet, you feel privileged. There, we said it. As well you should feel special, for our 2010 S5 Cabriolet priced out at $69,625.
But don’t forget, this isn’t just a luxury convertible. It’s a performance convertible, too. The 0-to-60-mph measure is dispatched in less than 6 seconds, although you might not feel the S5 Cabriolet is really going that fast, as the calming influence of Quattro and the car’s 4,300-odd pounds (not to mention some uncharacteristically laissez-faire shifting from the 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch automatic that works so brilliantly in some of Audi’s other cars) combine for acceleration that can feel disproportionately serene.
You might also look at the ambitious $3,950 Audi wants for our S5 Cabrio tester’s “Audi Drive Select” option and sniff, “No thanks,” but you’d be turning your back on yet another of the truly unique technologies Audi makes available for this remarkable convertible, the so-called “sports rear differential” that selectively distributes extra power to either rear wheel to help slice the car more directly into corners.
There are all manner of luxury convertibles out there, but none combine the spectacular styling, performance and technology of the S5 Cabriolet. Desirability is the last word in this rarefied market segment, and Audi’s 2010 S5 Cabriolet pegs the meter. — Bill Visnic, Motor Matters

Next Bonus Wheels: 2010 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 AUDI S5
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 4-passenger AWD subcompact cabriolet
BASE PRICE___________________ $58,250 (as tested: $67,045)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 24-valve supercharged DOHC V-6
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 3.0-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 333 at 5500 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 325 at 2900 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 108.3 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 182 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 4,310 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 16.9 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 17 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010