The new Audi A5 Cabriolet range has been revealed ahead of its debut at the Los Angeles motor show, and is due to reach the UK next March.
Based on the same platform as the A5 Coupé, and designed to seat four, the A5 Cabriolet comes in a range of flavours; the spiciest at launch will be the sporty four-wheel drive S5 Cabriolet, with its six-cylinder, turbocharged 3.0-litre engine that produces 349bhp – up 21bhp on the previous S5 Cabriolet – and gets the car from 0-62mph in 5.1sec.
The rest of the engine line up mirrors that of the A5 Coupé. Initially, a 248bhp, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine will be the sole petrol option, joined by two diesels: a 2.0-litre TDI with 187bhp and a 3.0-litre TDI V6 with 215bhp. Buyers have a choice of front- or four-wheel drive, and three different gearboxes – a six-speed manual as standard, a seven-speed dual clutch automatic or an eight-speed conventional automatic.
More engines are planned, including a 187bhp version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine, and a beefy 282bhp version of the 3.0-litre V6 diesel that will only be available with four-wheel drive. Audi says the engines offered develop up to 17% more power but consume up to 22% less fuel than the first generation A5 Cabriolet, which launched in the UK in 2009.
The new A5 Cabriolet’s styling follows that of the Coupé, with the obvious difference being the new folding soft roof, which opens in 15sec and closes in 18sec while the car is moving at speeds of up to 31mph. The new roof has been manufactured in a way that should result in much less interior noise at higher speeds when the roof is up.
Audi claims that the new mechanical underpinnings of the A5 Cabriolet, made from hot-formed high-strength steel, will give a 40% improvement in rigidity compared to the old model, which should mean better comfort and more agile handling. The car's reduced weight will also help with agility – the front-wheel drive A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI weighs 40kg less than its predecessor, at 1690kg. Revised suspension should also enhance the driving experience in corners – the rear suspension has been changed to a more sophisticated five-link set up, replacing the old trapezoidal link suspension of the outgoing model.
The new car is 47mm longer than the current A5 Cabriolet, and has a slightly longer wheelbase that bumps up rear knee room by 18mm. It also helps provide an extra 60 litres of boot space (when the roof is closed, that is), taking it to 380 litres. A 50/50 folding rear seat comes as standard.
Other standard features include an automatically opening bootlid, operated either by the key fob or a button on the driver’s door. You can also specify a gesture control function that opens the boot when a sensor under the rear bumper detects movement of your foot when the car is stationary.
Safety features include new rollover beams that deploy from behind the passenger cabin should the car roll over in a crash. There are also head-thorax side airbags concealed in the door lining.
Inside, the interior is much the same as the A5 Coupé. Notable features include an optional 12.3in Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display, as an alternative to standard analogue instruments. Seatbelt microphones for the driver and front seat passenger are included as standard, to improve voice quality during phone conversations. Audi Phonebox connects smartphones to the car’s antenna for better reception, and includes wireless smartphone charging.
Customers can also opt for a Technology Pack, which includes an LTE module to access online services for free for the first three years of ownership, five free updates to the sat-nav's maps, and a wif-i hotspot for internet connectivity. Opt for the top-of the-range infotainment system and you’ll get an 8.3in screen with a DVD drve, 10GB of flash memory, two card readers and USB connections. The raange-topping trim level gets a 755 Watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, which features 3D surround sound, 19 speakers and better bass, thanks to the addition of a second subwoofer.
There are as many as 30 available driver assistance systems on the A5 Cabriolet, some of which set the tone for autonomous driving systems of the future. Adaptive cruise control will take charge of acceleration and braking duties in traffic at speeds of up to 40mph, and will also take charge of the steering on some roads. A “predictive efficiency assistant” will use GPS information about the car’s surroundings to help save fuel by giving specific driving advice.
Available trim levels in the UK will follow the same SE, Sport and S line grades as the Coupé, while the performance-oriented S5 adds 19in alloy wheels, model-specific exterior styling and upgraded Super Sports seats. UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, but in Germany the A5 Cabriolet will cost from €49,350 (around £43,800) and the S5 Cabriolet at €67,800 (around £60,300).
Although yet to be officially announced, Audi’s Sport division is developing an RS5 Cabriolet which will appear next year and provide even hotter performance. It’s expected to replace the outgoing model’s 5.2-litre V8 with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6, developed in collaboration with Porsche.
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