It must to be tough to occupy the midrange in the Audi stable, where luxury sedans and sports cars generate most of the buzz. But between those extremes are several modest models that deserve more attention, and that brings us to the stylish A5 cabriolet.
Appearance: The A5 is handsome, with clean lines and a low stance set off by its sharp, 19-inch "Y-spoke" wheels. There are all the usual Audi design cues, such as a broad egg-grate grille and headlights with "eyeliner" LED running lights. The power-folding convertible top has a heated glass rear window and an unobtrusive shape. Lyra likes the lines of the convertible better than those of the coupe. Peter was driving with the top down and someone, impressed, shouted: "Is that the new A5?"
Performance: Here's a pleasant surprise: In a class populated with 6-cylinder powerplants, the A5's 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo never feels like it is underpowered despite turning out just 211 horsepower. Not thrilling, but not a nuisance, either. Our tester had the optional (in the cabriolet) quattro all-wheel drive system and a smooth-shifting 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. We would definitely opt for the AWD, which is standard in the coupe; otherwise the A5 is front-wheel drive with a CVT transmission. Meh. With the AWD and wide stance, the A5 feels planted on the road. The A5 even gets respectable fuel mileage, which is estimated at 29 on the highway.
Interior: Standard Audi — large and easy-to-read gauges, quality fit and finish, and comfortable front seats, with the driver's side getting 12-way adjustability. The cabin was quiet for a convertible, thanks to the acoustic top. But with it down, the black leather seats can get really hot under the Florida sun. Even though there is adequate room for four passengers, the rear is a tighter fit in head- and legroom, which is typical for a convertible. Some convenient features: a button that rolls up all windows at the same time after the top is put up; a motorized seat belt presenter, which means you don't have to contort to reach back for the belt; usable trunk space with the top down. For safety the rear roll bars automatically deploy. One nit: Lyra's son hurt his finger on the latch when he tilted the seat forward, so parents beware. Even with the top down, the 10-speaker, 180-watt sound system is clear. Audi relies on its Multi Media Interface for on-screen controls, including 3-D navigation, phone, climate and audio interface. The 7-inch LCD screen and its graphics are crisp. If you don't have rear passengers, you can use the removable wind blocker to cut down on turbulence and noise.
Our 3 favorites
Wheels: The spoke design is one of the best I've seen.
Vibe: With top down, it's a stable platform for cruising.
MMI: The electronics controls seem simpler than in other Audis.
Seat belt presenter: Moves strap forward for easier buckling, and pulls belt out of the way for rear access.
Trunk: There's some usable space even with the top down.
All at once: One button to roll up all four windows after putting the top up.
The bottom line: The simple, stylish and elegant Audi A5 is a fun top-down cruiser with just enough luxury and legitimate room for four. We see it as the perfect springtime-in-Florida ride.