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