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