Probably the most flamboyant of the #BratPack A5 trio that Audi launched a few months ago in India, the convertible version makes no apologies about its diva status.
The red fabric roof is a delectable contrast to the British racing green shade on its sensuously curvy body. All the A5s have a certain proportion that makes them some of the best looking models in the German giant’s line-up, but a cabrio just makes things a bit more steamier. The matte aluminium A-pillars and window trim that runs around the cabin only accentuates the style statement it’s trying to make when the roof is down. So, are we feeling like fashionistas driving one? Not really. You can’t take away 40 years of uncool and turn it around in 18 seconds that it takes to put the roof down on this car.
While its outwardly raunchy appearance might suggest an engine that blows dust in the faces of other BMWs and Mercs at the red light, it’s actually more sedate under the hood than it is under the 3-layered acoustic roof. The 2.0lt diesel staple engine is put to work here to produce 190hp and 400Nm of torque. It is by no means a weak stat and besides start-up, you’ll even be hard pressed to tell that you’re driving an oil burner. It’s smooth and rapid enough to propel you to into triple digit zone rather quickly but you won’t be aroused by exhaust note or fast-revving engines or anything such. This is a luxury cruiser and it rides like one as well.
Audi has judged the suspension set-up perfectly and it stays flat and composed on broken roads and offers just the hint of sportiness when you’re going around bends. Not too stiff to upset the hats or hollers the cabin might be filled with.
Audi A5 Cabrio: Tech
What you get inside are all the creature comforts of modern Audis’, including the smartphone interface which supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with a few other apps that you can interact with via the Audi MMI. The MMI dial is also a touch surface so you can scribble letters on it to start searching for either contacts or an address. The shortcut buttons allow you to configure your favourites for one-touch access. Since everything is neatly laid out and ergonomic, you get the feeling of familiarity here.
The materials, fit and finish are obviously high quality, especially the open pore wood inlays that add warmth and richness amongst the leather. But I do think a lighter shade of timber would have stood out better against the dull grey/black of the cabin of our test car.
The longitudinal AC vents running across the width of the dash however do look cool. Even the optional flat-bottomed steering adds to the allure and sets it apart from lesser Audis. It’s a beautifully sculpted wheel that doesn’t bore your hands at all — it’s tactile and brimming with controls for everything including the Voice Assist feature. Mounted behind are paddle shifts for you to take manual control of the DSG gearbox. The view from the sporty steering wheel is gorgeous as ever, thanks to the Audi Virtual Cockpit that puts a 12.3in screen right in your line of sight with the most gorgeous graphics. I do wish that Audi improves the quality of its rear-cam though, and almost all its cars suffer from a blurry, fish-eyed image that is unbecoming of a luxury car in 2018.
The biggest party trick is, of course, the red roof. It can go up or down in 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 50kmph and Audi has stiffened the chassis to counter the lack of a roof but insulation from the outside world isn’t bad. You can still hear the distant clatter of an autorickshaw and Mumbai’s paraphernalia but it is muted and won’t be a bother if you’re using the 20-speaker Bang & Olufsen hi-fi system judiciously. Powered by a 755 watts and a 16-channel amplifier, this still isn’t the finest implementation of a B&O system we have heard in an Audi but it does provide a good soundtrack to the open-top, motoring lifestyle.
Audi A5 Cabrio: Drive dynamics
Drive dynamics are typical Audi with a light but precise steering, smooth shifting 7-speed DSG gearbox and the Audi Drive Select that varies shift points and adds a bit of weight to the steering. Thanks to Quattro, grip levels remain high and it’s hard to get the tail out unless you’re really in the mood for a Scandinavian flick. This car is meant for munching highways or cruising down Marine Drive with some ocean wind in your hair, not for drag races or rally stages and the A5 Cabrio does that brilliantly. The supple ride, even on the big 18in wheels and decent body control provides for the ideal blend of comfort with a hint of sportiness, just enough to get you to the country club and stand out in the parking lot. The diesel engine has the added advantage of being more efficient than an office clerk in Vegas.
The back seats aren’t much to speak of, they’re unusable by adults on inter-city journeys but if you want a bit of ferrying friends around town, it should do. Headroom does take a hit with the roof up, as expected. Boot space is surprisingly good though, even with the roof mechanism in tow and you get 380lts to fill it up with.
Audi A5 Cabrio: Verdict
The A5 Carbrio is in direct competition with the Mercedes C300 Cabrio, and while it has a less sportier engine as an option, it appeals to potential buyers with its blend of class, technology and flattering dynamics that make it an easy drive around a busy town as it is out on the expressway. You won’t buy this Audi with your head, but if your heart desires a luxury convertible, this one ticks most of the boxes.