We recently drove Audi's RS 5 Cabriolet, which shares the somewhat conservative looks of the model its based on, the A5 coupe. But don't let the looks fool you. This is no top-down luxury cruiser. For all intents and purposes, the RS 5 is a German muscle car.
Appearance: The RS 5 does get some slight exterior tweaks from its A5 and S5 siblings that include the front end and fascia, as well as a "wide-body design." The RS also has a single-frame grille with honeycomb mesh insert. Large air intakes with horizontal slats sit beneath the grille, which also is flanked by adaptive xenon-plus headlights with LED daytime running lights. In the rear, it sports LED taillights, RS oval exhaust outlets and a spoiler lip on the trunk lid. When the top is down, it tucks behind the rear seats. Our tester's Daytona Gray Pearl paint was set off by optional five-arm rotor-design wheels (titanium finish) that show this car means business. Peeking out from those 20-inch wheels: bright-red brake calipers.
Performance: The muscle hinted at in the exterior is fully flexed under the hood, where a Hulk of a 4.2-liter FSI V-8 (Audi is an Avengers sponsor) produces 450 horsepower and gives the car an estimated 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. The motor also produces a Hulk-worthy sound and practically begs for you to push it to the redline. The 7-speed dual-clutch automated transmission with manual shift reacts quickly. The RS 5 also has Audi's standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system and a sport-tuned suspension to help keep the car planted. A Drive Select System lets you choose from Auto, Comfort, Dynamic or Individual (custom settings). The Dynamic mode lets you feel the car at its most athletic but also lets you feel the bumps. Despite it being a convertible, the body still feels rigid.
Interior: One pleasant surprise: Despite the RS 5's cloth top, it has great sound insulation and there is little intrusion of road and wind noise. That's all the better to hear the 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. The four-seat interior features Nappa leather seats and door armrests. The front seats have 12-way power adjustments. The rear is best for those who need little legroom. As with all Audis, the infotainment system is controlled by a combination of dials and buttons on the lower console. We've always gritted our teeth when using this system as it seems to want to add steps to something that should be simple. The A/C controls are even worse. Why should there be two steps to get to the fan control? The soft convertible top takes up much less space than a hardtop and leaves a generous 10.2 cubic feet of trunk space when down. The top also folds in 17 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph.
Our 3 favorites
Get a grip: Leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Wheels: The five-spoke design reminds me of classic "mag" wheels.
Tech package: The $2,900 option includes a rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, navigation and parking assist.
Quiet cabin: Well-insulated soft top keeps road and wind noise out.
Solid build: The rigid body gets rid of shakes so common in convertibles.
Drive Select: You pick the type of ride you want.
The bottom line: In this RS 5 droptop, there's little dropoff in performance from the coupe version.