We’re now well into the season in Michigan where no one fights for the keys to a convertible. This S5 Cabriolet, however, is a soft-top I wouldn’t mind driving through the chilly months. Beyond the obvious advantage of all-wheel drive, the Audi has one of the quietest top-up rides I’ve ever experienced. Climb in, flip on the seat heaters (not so easy to do with Audi’s frustratingly complex HVAC controls) and you’ll soon forget the roof isn’t made of steel.
That also applies to the way it drives. Mash the pedal, and the all-wheel-drive system and 7-speed dual clutch automatic take care of the rest, hurtling you to 60 mph and beyond with a pleasant blat accompanying each upshift. The only fly in Audi’s dynamic punchbowl is the variable-effort steering, which reminds me how terrible it is every time I drive through our parking garage and experience the disconcerting and slightly dangerous build up in effort half way through a turn.
– David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
The Audi S5 convertible offers open-top style that’s hard to match (although I like the looks of the slinky A5/S5 coupe even better), and the car’s performance is very good but not great. For instance, body flex is apparent, although not bad for a four-passenger droptop; and the steering is very good at highway speed but feels distant at slower speeds. I found the S5 to be much more family friendly than the Mercedes-Benz E350 cabrio. Unlike in the Benz, the power top’s operation has lots of clearance over our Britax car seat secured in back.
– Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Lots of items here remind me of the S5’s much higher priced R8 sibling. Nice power, warm and quiet ride even with the soft top. LOVE the seats! Overall, though, I think this car looks much better as a hardtop coupe than as a topless sun seeker.
– Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
Even though the S5 is the sportier version of the A5, it’s still more of a luxury car than a sports car, and in convertible form, it’s even more of cruiser. The inherent body flex that comes with removing the roof is apparent, although it doesn’t detract from this car’s overall feeling of quality and attention to detail. The cabin is comfortable and modern, and it’s always a pleasure to use Audi’s MMI system, which is still more intuitive than BMW’s iDrive and looks better than Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND system. I do wish, though, that Audi would also put a volume control on the dash in addition to the one located near the main MMI controller. It may seem redundant — especially with the steering wheel mounted volume controls — but I still find myself searching for a knob on the dash to turn down the stereo volume.
– Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
It’s always a little disappointing to sample a convertible during the colder months in Michigan, but Audi’s S5 is one of the few drop-tops I could seriously consider using in both sun and snow. Competitors boast of insulation and seat heaters, but few (if any) offer an all-wheel-drive system as formidable as Quattro. Seat heaters also help keep things toasty, but if you’re planning on occasionally dropping the top during low temperatures, spring for the comfort package. Sure, it does away with these sexy two-tone sport seats, but you do gain embedded neck-level heat vents, a la the Mercedes-Benz Airscarf system.
– Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
2011 Audi S5 Cabriolet 3.0T
Base price (with destination): $59,325
Price as tested: $64,225
3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine
7-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Electronic stabilization control
S5 enhanced brakes
S5 sport suspension
19-inch alloy wheels with high performance tires
Audi Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights
Heated front seats
S5 sport seats with Silk Nappa leather upholstery
Split folding rear seats
Three-zone automatic climate control
AM/FM radio with in-dash CD player
Sirius satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
Navigation package — $2450
Audi navigation with 3G MMI
Color driver information system
Rearview camera with rear parking sensors
Sports rear differential — $1100
Bang & Olufsen premium sound system — $850
Carbon Atlas interior inlays — $500
Key options not on vehicle:
Comfort package — $1400
Fuel economy: 17/26/20 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 3.0L supercharged DOHC V-6
Horsepower: 333 hp @ 5500-7000 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2900-3500 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Curb weight: 4310 lb
Wheels/tires: 19-inch aluminum wheels, 255/35R19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT performance tires