Audi A5 Cabriolet mixes sharp design with wind-in-the-hair thrillsView gallery - 11 images
Lopping the top off a car creates plenty of engineering problems, from overall rigidity to weight, but there's still a small group of people demanding wind-in-the-hair thrills. Audi has heeded their call with the new A5 Cabriolet. Based on the coupe launched in June this year, it mixes the same high-tech cabin and sharp exterior with a whole lot more opportunity to spend time in the sun.
Although heavier than the coupe or sedan, Audi has gone to great lengths to keep the A5 Cabriolet as light as possible. Unlike BMW, which has fitted the 4 Series Convertible with a folding hardtop, Audi has followed the Mercedes C-Class and run with a canvas unit. The top can be operated at up to 50 km/h (31 mph), and takes just 15 seconds to open and 18 seconds to close.
To make sure the drop-top A5 doesn't start wobbling around on a bumpy road, structural reinforcements have been fitted to the body, and the sills have been stiffened. Audi says it's the stiffest car in class, which is impressive considering it's also 40 kg (88 lb) lighter than its predecessor.
On the inside, it's standard Audi, albeit with a few special touches to make it more amenable with the roof down. The microphones for wireless phone calls and the in-cabin voice-control are sewn into the seat belts to cut down on wind noise, for example, but the rest of the cabin borrows its horizontal design and high-quality materials from the rest of the midsize Audi range.
Power comes from a range of compact, turbocharged engines, kicking off with a 140 kW (190 hp) four-cylinder diesel. There's also an entry-level four-cylinder petrol making 185 kW (252 hp), and a 160 kW (218 hp) diesel option. Two more engines will be added to the A5 lineup after launch, and the range will be topped by the S5 Cabriolet.
Under the hood, the S5 variant drops the compact four-cylinder engines for a 3.0-liter V6 with 260 kW (354 hp) of power and 500 Nm (369 lb.ft) of torque, enough to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 5.1 seconds. Although that's 0.4 seconds slower than the coupe, it's still quicker than the BMW 440i.
Pricing for the A5 Cabriolet will start at €49,350 (about US$54,900), and it will land in European showrooms in March 2017. The bigger engine in the S5 Cabriolet adds significantly to the price, which is listed as €67,800.