Drive Select is very cool, but somewhat wasted on the A5 Cabriolet, as the engine doesn't provide the power to fully make use of it. On paper, the engine looks pretty good. A direct injected 2-liter four-cylinder with a turbocharger, it produces 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. But the power feels light, whether attempting a quick launch or hitting the gas in a turn. Turbo lag is part of the issue here, as is the car's weight, at just over 2 tons.
The advantage of the smaller engine should come in better fuel economy. The EPA numbers for the A5 Cabriolet with Quattro are 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. We achieved an average of 20.6 mpg in the car, although we did make frequent use of the turbocharger. The A5 Coupe with the 3.2-liter engine gets 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, a small economy hit that's made up for with very useful power.
The turbocharged 2-liter engine is perfectly fine for everyday use, but you can save a few thousand dollars by not opting for Drive Select, especially considering that the only transmission available for the Quattro-equipped A5 Cabriolet is a six-speed automatic. We found this transmission performed well enough, with quick shifts in manual mode, but to really take advantage of the car's sporting characteristics you would want the manual transmission, only available on the non-Quattro A5 Cabriolet.
If you are looking for serious sporting performance, Audi offers the S5 Cabriolet, which includes many advantages over the A5 Cabriolet. The engine in the S5 is a supercharged 3-liter six-cylinder, the transmission is a seven-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system includes torque vectoring across the rear wheels, something not present in the A5's Quattro system.
Pump up the volume
The premium Bang and Olufsen audio system available in the A5 Cabriolet comports more with the luxury side of the car, using 14 speakers to throw 505 watts around the cabin. While not stunning, the audio quality is very good, the system producing distinct highs and palpable bass. As a 5.1-channel system, it really shines when playing DVD audio, but most of the available audio sources, and there are plenty, only offer two-channel input.
Those audio sources include Audi's Music Interface, a port in the glove box with cables that let you plug in an iPod, USB drive, mini-USB device, or 1/8th-inch audio jack. You can also copy MP3 files to the car's navigation hard drive, which reserves space for music. As an odd legacy from Audi's first MMI system, there are two SD card slots behind a panel in the faceplate as an additional audio source. With iPods and the onboard hard drive, you can select music by artist, album, genre, and playlist. Other MP3 sources in the car only let you view music libraries by folder and file name.
The MMI includes a very good Bluetooth phone system, as we've seen on previous models from Audi. This system imports your phone's contact list to the car, making it available on the LCD. But, unlike a growing number of automakers, there's no voice command system that recognizes the names of people in the contact list.
Rounding out the cabin tech in the A5 Cabriolet are a blind-spot detection system and a rear-view camera with trajectory lines. Audi has long had one of the more advanced rear-view cameras on the market. It not only shows lines indicating the distance between objects and the rear bumper, it also has lines that show where the car will go depending on how the wheels are turned.
The blind-spot detection system turns on an amber warning light on the inside of the side mirror casing when a car is traveling in the A5 Cabriolet's blind spot. It's a useful indicator to let you know when it is safe to change lanes.
The direct-injected turbocharged engine in the 2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet sets a high-water mark for engine tech in today's market, yet it isn't entirely effective in this car. The Quattro and advanced suspension technology is also impressive, but the car's limited power doesn't let you fully exploit it. The cabin tech in the A5 Cabriolet is very good, but not quite cutting-edge, compared to other systems out there. Sure, the A5 Cabriolet has the best-looking maps amongst competitive models, and we really like the route guidance, but the navigation system is lacking in some useful features, such as external data sources other than traffic. Driver-aid features, such as the blind-spot detection system, help push up the level of cabin tech. As for the exterior, the soft top takes away some of the beauty from the coupe design.
|Model||2010 Audi A5|
|Trim||Quattro 2.0 TFSI Cabriolet|
|Powertrain||Turbocharged direct injection 2-liter four cylinder|
|EPA fuel economy||20 mpg city/26 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||20.6 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based system with live traffic|
|Bluetooth phone support||Optional|
|Disc player||MP3 compatible single CD/DVD player|
|MP3 player support||iPod integration|
|Other digital audio||Satellite radio, USB drive, mini-USB devices, onboard hard drive, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Optional Bang and Olufsen 5.1 channel 505 watt 14 speaker system|
|Driver aids||Rear view camera with trajectory lines, blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control|
|Price as tested||$61,800|