Unveiled last year and on the market now is the all-new 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet. Testing it in the winter is child’s play here in Arizona, seems a perfect car for our mild mostly sunny February.
The new drop top Audi comes to us as a fully loaded Prestige trim grade with plenty of options that take its $49,600 base price to a weighty $65,050. A good sum but in the middle of the pack when it comes to comparisons to BMW’s 4-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class cabriolets.
While all-new from the ground up, the new 2018 A5 is evolutionary in its design as Audis always are. While related to the A4 sedan, the A5 coupe and cabriolet have different sheet metal from bumper to bumper, a more athletic stance and a more Coke bottled shape.
There is a fully powered cloth soft top that can lower in 15 seconds and at speeds up to 31 mph. It stows cleanly under a folding tonneau cover for a sleek well finished look. Sans top, the new A5 Cabriolet still has a body structure some 40 percent stiffer than the last generation and is lighter in weight as a result of increased use of high-strength steels and aluminum in the body.
Powering our A5 cabriolet is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injected engine good for 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. With standard Quattro all-wheel drive it comes with only a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Audi says it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat which feels about right.
Aside the delay in powertrain response programmed into its drive-by wire throttle, the engine and transmission do deliver a strong and refined kick in the back under full steam. Most people will not be disappointed by the power level here.
If anything can be complained about its the indecisiveness and sometimes lackadaisical behavior of the transmission in day-to-day driving in down while in stop and go traffic. It’s engine auto-start-stop system is also far more annoying than it should be in a car you spend this much money on. At least it can be turned off.
The payoff for this annoyance however is good fuel economy. It’s rated at 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. We achieved an impressive 29 mpg combined in our week with it.
A five-link suspension both front and rear offers impressive and expected sharpness in handling and precision. The adjustable dampers via the drive modes do well to offer a variety of feels and personalities while the stiff body structure keeps it feeling solid and of its price even at speed.
Wind noise at speed is impressively low as is the buffeting. With neck level heating vents it was nice to drive in the winterscape with the top down. And getting to the interior, the dash and interior design is premium as you’d expect here.
Beautiful leather seating heated and ventilated up front, rich burl wood and some of the best switchgear in the business impresses as Audi has always done for us. Premium materials span most surfaces but there are some cheap plastics rearing their presence.
While driving, the optional 20-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound and two subwoofers really impressed as did the beautiful and vivid virtual cockpit display. The latter can be customized in so many ways, you can spend an hour playing with it in the parking lot without getting bored.
Using its infotainment system will take an hour however to figure out and learn. While it is the better of most with the center console puck and button interface, it is still painfully less intuitive and easy to use behind the wheel than the tried and true volume and tuning knob. Graphics and menus are at least well done, the navigation system exquisite and the 360-degree backup camera a joy to behold.
The end result of the all-new Audi here is a car that takes the last generation forward in typical evolutionary improvement of the brand. If you are an Audiphile you will find more to like. If you’re comparing other brands, it’s certainly worth a look as it offers something just a little different from all the rest.