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2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet Tiptronic

Wow, Audi's acoustic roof really makes this car quiet on the highway. It may be a bit odd, but I think the highlight of this convertible is the top. It's every bit as quiet as a folding hardtop convertible and you don't have to give up the entire trunk to retract the top. Aside from the potential security issues a soft top entails, why in the world would anyone choose an A5 coupe over the cabrio? I'd opt for the coupe if I were thinking of an S5, though.

Since it's possible to buy an A5 cabriolet with Quattro and the six-speed Tiptronic transmission, the cabrio even makes sense as a daily driver in the winter. The price premium for AWD and a transmission with real gears is a mere $2100 when compared with a similarly equipped front-wheel-drive model with a CVT. Either way you get the excellent 2.0 FSI engine, which is well matched to the A5's personality.

Our test car is almost completely loaded and commands $56,525 but a smartly optioned Premium trim level car will be plenty luxurious for $45,550, if you can live without navigation and Bang & Olufsen sound. At $45,550 the A5 cabriolet makes a lot of sense for those who place a premium on looks and luxury over all-out performance, though the A5 doesn't disappoint in the driving department.

Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor

The 2010 model year marks the introduction of the 2.0-liter TFSI direct-injection turbo four-cylinder engine in Audi's A5 lineup (both coupe and convertible). In the coupe, this engine is offered either with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic; both come with standard Quattro all-wheel drive. The convertible, though, offers the 2.0T with a CVT (continuously variable transmission, which you operate like an automatic) and front-wheel drive; or with Quattro and a six-speed conventional automatic. The latter combination is how our test car was outfitted.

Having spent a weekend and some 400 miles with the Audi, I agree with Phil Floraday that the fabric roof is extraordinarily good. I drove the A5 Cabrio in temps as low as 5 degrees and basically forgot most of the time that I was in a fabric-roof convertible. That's how well insulated this top is. Give me a good fabric roof like this any day over one of the newfangled folding metal roofs.

This turbo four is smooth and refined and works well with the six-speed automatic, but rumor has it that Audi eventually will offer this engine with its upcoming new eight-speed automatic, and it will be interesting to experience that powertrain combo, for sure. But as it stands, there's absolutely no problem accelerating onto freeways, passing, and maintaining 80-mph-plus cruising speeds. The burst from 80 to 100 mph is surprisingly quick, especially if you have the transmission in sport mode. There's also a manual gate for the shifter.

Complaints? The cruise control stalk on the left side of the steering wheel is hidden by the steering wheel spoke, and the fancy Bang & Olufsen stereo has some distortion at high volume.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

Pay attention, all you other automakers. This is how you do a four-cylinder engine. My first stint behind the wheel was a brief highway drive in mild traffic. At the time, I would have sworn that I was driving a V-6 engine. The A5's supreme smoothness and low highway revs give this car highway-cruising comfort that I've never experienced in a four-cylinder vehicle. At 70 mph, the engine is turning at a relaxed 2600 rpm -- a far cry from the 3000 to 3500 rpm that so often corrupt four-cylinder cars. In my opinion, there's absolutely no negative to Audi dropping the V-6 here. Want a faster car? Get the S5.

From a driving standpoint, this A5 2.0T Prestige is more of a touring cabrio than a sporty convertible. The impressive engine refinement is nicely complemented by the fabulous soft top that others have mentioned. Audi says it's sticking with ragtops because they're more affordable and offer better trunk space while offering the same quietness and weather protection of a hard top. The A5 cabriolet is proof that Audi's confidence is built on truth. The A5's largest shortcoming here is steering. Even as a tourer the steering is inadequate. Heck, it hardly measures up to minivan standards in my book.

Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor

This Audi A5 convertible gives you all the warm and quiet comforts of a hard top automobile, with the fun and flexibility of a soft top. I was surprised at how much this model parallels the creature comforts of its hardtop counterpart.

Today I had to make a dreadfully early morning run to the airport to drop off my partner for a sun & fun weekend in Florida. Its dark, it's a nippy 29°F, I don't have enough coffee, and I'm cursing him in my head for leaving me in this frozen tundra of Michigan.

While dropping off curbside, the light bulb pinged in my head... Photo Op! Top down, camera out, and shooting as much as possible before TSA tells me I need to move it. Other cars driving by looking with strange faces. Pictures of a convertible at the airport in February, what's the deal? Then I was reminded when I saw my reflection while taking a photo... oh yeah. Convertible, top down, guy with mohawk, and it's 29°F in Michigan.

I drove off with the top down. The next 45 miles proved to be more awakening than a grande Starbucks with three extra shots! I zipped down the freeway to the office in the subfreezing weather at about 80 mph listening to Lady Gaga jam out "I'm a freak" -- rather fitting, I thought.

Had I taken the time to put up the wind blocker, it might have been completely enjoyable. As it was, I just cranked the heat and the seat heater to high. The most delightful pleasure was having the A5 blow warm sweet nothings down my neck from the seat's built-in air vent at back of my neck and head.

As I pulled into the parking structure and waited for the top to go up, I felt as though I proved my point: everyone dies, not everyone lives. This morning I felt alive!

Kelly Ryan Murphy, Creative Director

My morning with the A5 was even colder than Kelly's, so I didn't have the guts to drop the top, although I was very tempted to try Audi's Mercedes-Benz-style neck-warmer. Even with the top raised, though, the A5 cabrio is a wonderful car, and, as others have mentioned, it's very easy to forget that you're in a soft-top convertible, so quiet and well-insulated is the ragtop. But the most amazing thing about this top, in my opinion, is that it has reading lights for rear-seat passengers integrated smack-dab into the middle of its lining. How awesome is that?! I've never seen such a feature in any convertible. And the back seat is actually big enough for adults. I was also pleasantly surprised by the amount of trunk space.

About the only thing I don't like about the A5 convertible is that it just can't match the pure beauty of its coupe sibling. But that's like criticizing Pavel Datsyuk because he can't hit a free throw.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

The A5 really does make a strong case for the superiority of a traditional fabric top, but it's an even stronger testament to Audi's phenomenal design and execution. The two biggest convertible weaknesses - sound isolation and top-up appearance, simply aren't an issue here. Neither is structural rigidity. As a result, the A5 is nearly as quiet as any steel-roofed vehicle, emits not a squeak over our frost-heaved roads, and cuts nearly as lovely a profile as the coupe version.

Otherwise, the convertible provides the same near-perfect experience as any other A4/5. That means terrific four-cylinder acceleration, good handling, and a fantastic looking interior. The thick coat of snow and ice on the ground also provided a reminder of why many consumers just love Audi's commitment to all-wheel drive.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

There was no top-down driving in the A5 for me, but this Audi softtop is one convertible that won't make you feel shortchanged when the weather doesn't cooperate. The lack of b-pillars create an unhindered lateral view and rear visibility is decent despite the smallish rear window, an unfortunate attribute of most ragtops. Add flip-down rear headrests, Audi, and the view out the rear window would be even better for those days when top down is not an option.

The A5's cloth top itself is a work of art. It's beautifully crafted and rare features like the reading lights over the rear seats demonstrate Audi's attention to detail. And the top's light-colored liner adds visual height and helps prevent the cave-like feeling that is common in many softtop convertibles.

The A5 convertible suffers from some cowl shake and it feels slightly less solid than its fixed-roof sibling but that is to be expected. Regardless, it's still a luxurious cruiser that, whether you're enjoying a top-down sunny day or slogging through the snow, will make you feel special.

Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor

The A5 is an undeniably beautiful car, but it's no surprise that I find the hardtop's styling more compelling than that of the softtop. There's just something a little disjointed-looking about a cabrio with the top up, no matter whether that top is hard or soft. Having said that, if we're talking pure driving enjoyment, I'd have a hard time opting for the coupe over the softtop when the weather is mild. Unfortunately, I happened to drive the A5 cabrio in February, in Michigan, in subfreezing temperatures. Blech. (That would a comment on the weather, not the car.) Happily, I barely noticed the weather as the snug-fitting top kept the elements at bay. With the seat heaters on and with Quattro all-wheel drive, the A5 cabrio actually proves to be a pretty capable foul-weather car. Visibility is decent, although prone to a couple of blind spots (most notably at the rear quarter) that are endemic to convertibles, and the cabin might feel a little claustrophic even to people of average stature, what with the lower headliner. But those shortcomings are more than overcome by the A5's smooth and responsive 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the exquisitely designed interior.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet Tiptronic

Base price (with destination): $44,925
Price as tested: $56,525

Standard Equipment:
Quattro all-wheel-drive
6-speed tiptronic transmission
2.0L turbocharged engine
18-inch 10-spoke wheels
Servotronic speed-sensitive steering
Electromechanical parking brake
Electronic stabilizer program
Leather-trimmed power seats
10-speaker 180-watt sound system
Electronic cruise control
Halogen headlights
Front fog lights

Options on this vehicle:
Prestige model - $8300
Comfort package - $2400
Driver assist package - $ 900

Key options not on vehicle:
S Line package - $2450
Sport package - $1450
Audi drive select - $2950

Fuel economy:
20 / 26 / 23 mpg

Size: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 211 hp @ 4300-6000 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1500-4200 rpm


6-speed Tiptronic automatic

Weight: 4034 lb

18 x 8.5-inch aluminum wheels
245/40R18 Michelin Pilot Alpin winter tires

Competitors: Lexus IS-C, Infiniti G37 conv., Volvo C70, BMW 3-Series conv.