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Used test: Audi A5 Cabriolet vs BMW 4 Series Convertible
Put a smile back on your face with these two premium convertibles, both now available used for a fraction of their new price. But which to buy? We have the answer.....
Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI 252 quattro S line S tronic
- List price when new - £46,180
- Price today - £21,400*
- Available from - 2017-present
The smooth and refined A5 Cabriolet is one of the best drop-tops in its price range new, but how does it stack up as a used buy?
BMW 4 Series Convertible 430i M Sport auto
- List price when new - £43,180
- Price today - £19,700*
- Available from - 2014-present
A favourite of ours for many years, the folding hard-top 4 Series Cabriolet drops under the magic £20k barrier bought at this age.
*Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Let’s face it, we could probably all do with something to look forward to at the moment, and in a motoring context what is more energising and involving than punting a really good convertible car down a winding country lane?
But to buy the best of them can cost an awful lot of money, so what we’ve done here is to get three-year-old examples of two of the finest together, the Audi A5 Cabriolet and the BMW 4 Series Convertible. Buy either of these two at this age and the savings on the original prices are quite substantial, so you can park one outside your house for the same money as a new Kia Ceed.
But which of these handsome drop-tops deserves to grace your driveway? Read on to find out.
What are they like to drive?
Both cars have 2.0-litre petrol engines that pump out a whisker under 250bhp, but BMW’s choice to give the 4 Series a folding metal roof gives it a considerable weight penalty over the fabric-roofed A5. It’s not surprising, then, that the latter builds speed more swiftly. The fact that the A5 has quattro four-wheel drive also means it can scamper away from the mark quicker than the rear-wheel-drive 4 Series – especially when the road is damp.
The 4 Series’ engine sounds gruff when you accelerate, and you feel vibrations coursing through the steering wheel and pedals. By comparison, the A5’s petrol engine is silky smooth and sounds much sweeter when you work it hard.
However, there’s nothing wrong with the 4 Series’ automatic gearbox, which flicks between its eight gears intelligently when left to do its own thing and is quick to oblige when you want to change gear manually by pulling paddles behind the steering wheel. The A5’s automatic gearbox may have one fewer gear to call upon, but most of the time it’s an equally impressive companion whether you take control or not.
The 4 Series’ extra weight has an impact on its handling, too. Sure, its steering has a more natural feel, but it struggles to change direction with as much gusto, while the A5’s superior traction out of junctions and corners helps you to change direction with greater confidence.
Fitted with the firmest suspension offered on each model and riding on the optional 19in alloy wheels, neither car’s ride is ideal for UK roads, but you'll find softer set-ups on the used car forecourts, especially if you avoid the S line and M Sport trims. The 4 Series is harsher over sharp bumps that the A5 manages to take the edge off, but the A5 is generally firmer, so you feel more small imperfections as they pass beneath the car. Both cars have relatively stiff structures, but you'll feel a few more wobbles through the A5’s body on scruffy roads.
The 4 Series’ standard run-flat tyres generate quite a lot of road noise at higher speeds, even with the folding metal roof erected. The A5’s fabric roof lets in more wind noise, but there’s slightly less road noise.
The 4 Series’ roof works at speeds of up to 8mph and takes 29 seconds to go about its business, whereas the A5’s top takes 19 seconds and can operate at up to 31mph. Roofs down, the BMW does a slightly better job of keeping four people bluster-free up to around 60mph, although rear passengers are inevitably blown about more than those in the front.
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