The 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet is by far the quietest softtop convertible I have ever driven. There was no howling wind noise or cold air coming through the tight seams; the S5 Cabriolet really drove like a fixed-roof vehicle. Surprisingly, the driver’s rearward visibility isn’t hindered by the top; the car has slightly larger blind spots at the C-pillars, but the lack of a B-pillar more than makes up for it. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to lower the top while driving due to the sub-freezing temperatures outside, but unlike other convertibles on the market, the Audi S5 Cabriolet is still a stylish ride regardless of where the top is positioned, especially in this color scheme, with brilliant red paint and a black top.
The 7-speed dual-clutch S-tronic transmission is very refined and super smooth, although the S5 felt stubborn to go when I had the steering wheel locked to one side and then pressed the gas pedal. The transmission shuttered and the steering wheel shook as the Quattro all-wheel-drive tried to pull the car out of the tight situation.
Our test unit was not equipped with a sports rear differential; but even without it, it was still a blast to drive the Audi S5 sideways down snow-covered country roads. The car is simply amazing.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I’ve been hearing a lot from a certain Audi competitor about a “convertible for four seasons.” I hate to break it to them, but it will be difficult — if not impossible — to wrest such a title away from Audi’s S5.
Here, we have not only a cabriolet that’s drop-dead gorgeous, faster than a speeding bullet, and an absolute dream in winter wonderlands. The combination of this car’s Michelin snow tires and Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system made the S5 virtually unstoppable, even on some thick ice I encountered in a rutted, gravel parking lot.
I’m fairly happy this example was devoid of Audi’s blind-spot warning system. Not only is the driver blessed with fairly good visibility (the lack of B-pillars helps, for sure), but the warning system has a habit of creating false readings on radar detectors — and you’re going to want to use one with this car. Audi’s moving the S5 from the beefy 4.2-liter V-8 to the supercharged 3.2-liter V-6, and while I missed the timbre of the eight-cylinder motor, this new engine has plenty of thrust.
Perhaps too much thrust, in fact. Every time I merged onto a divided highway, I would soon find myself startled by the chirp of the built-in speed warning — which I set at 80 mph…
My gripes are few, but given how most Michigan winters are, I could stand for the seat warmers to err on the side of scalding. Even on their highest setting, these felt lukewarm at best. I also know Audi needs to have some sort of trim level system, but it seems odd to drive a $60,000 convertible with a manual-dimming rear-view mirror. If you want that, you’ll have to spring for the “Prestige” S5 Cabriolet, which adds an extra $5700 to the price (and also allows you to opt for the customizable Drive Select system).
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
As I drove the Audi S5 Cabriolet into work this morning over a fine dusting of snow, I couldn’t help but have the same thought as Evan. Mercedes-Benz claims its new E-class Cabriolet is the convertible for four seasons, but how can you argue with Audi’s all-wheel drive? The E-class, however, does offer Airscarf, which blows warm air onto the necks of front-seat passengers. That’s a feature I would have appreciated when I dropped the roof in 32-degree weather for my 20-minute commute down the highway. While the seat heaters and full-blast heat could hardly keep up with the Michigan weather, a thick winter jacket kept things tolerable.
Like Mike, I noticed an impressively quiet cabin at highway speeds with the top up. Audi has said it believes it can use a soft top to achieve the same comfort levels of a hard roof without the packaging and weight tradeoffs. Having driven this S5, I believe them.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is excellent, and I enjoy the ability to choose from three different shift modes (normal, sport, manual). Shifts are smooth and quick, and there’s a delightful brrrwaaaapp on full-throttle upshifts. Predictably, Audi’s wildly variable steering effort continues to irk me. A lot.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
I had forgotten that Audi was phasing out the V-8 in the S5 in favor of its new supercharged V-6; when I first got in the car, I was like, where’s the V-8 burble? And what’s with this quick-shifting, dual-clutch automatic transmission? And then I launched the S5 onto a freeway entrance ramp and remembered, ah, yes, the S5 now gets the same smooth and torquey supercharged V-6 as the new S4 sport sedan. Very nice, and I can live without the V-8.
So it was Evan who set the speed warning tone for only 80 mph! That thing kept dinging at me every time I dipped into the accelerator. But I was actually kind of grateful that he had set it, because otherwise I would have been driving at 100 mph the whole time without even trying.
As others have noted, the S5 is a gorgeous car, and Audi’s fabric convertible roofs are beautifully constructed and give away little to a fixed steel roof in terms of sound suppression. And the S5’s even has little LED reading lamps for the rear-seat built into the fabric roof, which are very cool.
Another powertrain note: The S5 Cabriolet is powered solely by the supercharged V-6 mated to the S Tronic transmission, but the S5 coupe still gets the V-8, mated either to a conventional automatic or a six-speed manual. So the hardcore V-8 fans still have that choice, just not with a fabric roof.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
2010 Audi S5 S-Tronic Cabriolet
Base price (with destination): $59,075
Price as tested: $61,475
3.0L supercharged 6-cylinder engine
7-speed dual clutch S tronic transmission
19-inch alloy wheels
S5 sport suspension and brakes
Three zone climate control
Heated front seats
AM/FM radio with in-dash CD player
Options on this vehicle:
Navigation package — $2400
-Navigation with 3g MMI
-Rear parking sensors
-Color driver information system
Key options not on vehicle:
Sports rear differential — $1100
Comfort package — $1400
Bang & Olufsen sound system — $850
17 / 26 / 22 mpg
Size: 3.0L Supercharged 6-cylinder
Horsepower: 333 hp @ 5500-7000 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2900-5300 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic S tronic
Weight: 4294 lbs
19-inch alloy wheels
255/35R19 Michelin winter tires