Maybe college girls are more, um, outgoing today. Or perhaps we’re just becoming more handsome with age. Or maybe, just maybe, it had something to do with the 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet we were driving through campus that had the coeds calling out, vocally expressing admiration.
Unfortunately, the latter is probably true.
On the other hand, being behind the wheel of that Audi high performance convertible isn’t a complete disappointment.
To the contrary, driving al fresco in the S5 Audi S5 quattro S-Tronic Cabriolet on one of the last temperate days of autumn is a superb experience. The S5 is, as its name suggests, a more extreme version of the A5, itself available as a two-door coupe and convertible. The latter, with the thickly padded and insulated fabric roof, is what’s technically called a cabriolet. And as either as S5 Cabriolet or A5 Cabriolet, it’s new for 2010.
Differentiating between A5 and S5 coupes and cabriolets is primarily a function of engines, with transmissions, suspension and other factors keying off what’s under the hood. Essentially, the A5 Coupe is available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection four or a 3.0-liter direct-injection V6. The A5 Cabriolet is offered only with the two-liter turbo four. The S5 Coupe, on the other hand, is powered by a 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8, with the S5 Cabriolet–the subject of our road test–coming only with a new supercharged direct-injection V-6.
What the A5/S5 Coupe/Cabriolet share is a design with more flow than other Audi models, with a hood line that arcs up behind large single frame Audi grille. A double crested character line sweeps from front to rear. The interior is a more exuberant version of the typically classy Audi interior, the character of the exterior carrying over to the interior. The satin-finished door panel trim arches into a bright metal door handle, repeating the curves from the door skins outside.
The touch surfaces are soft, and even surfaces not usually touched are soft as well, such as the supple leather of the shifter boot. The door armrest, the center armrest and the other more obvious places are ultra-soft touch as well.
Our test S5 Cabrio also came with distinctive red-on-black seats and door panels. plus red stitching on the black leather-wrapped steering wheel, a striking combination that drew compliments from even our resident fashion grumps.
The cabrio top isn’t as charming, however. Perhaps it was the choice of high contrast black-over-white color on our test car, but the curves of the fabric top, plus the angle between the top and the rear deck, aren’t as visually successful, for example, as the Maserati GranTurismo Convertible. At least the fabric top retracts under its hard tonneau in fifteen seconds, and can do so–or come back up–at speeds up to 30 mph. (We would have done that on campus, but that might have driven the coeds over the top).
Coeds might not care, but the fabric top means our Audi S5 Cabrio had a 10.2 cu. ft. trunk and even more, has split-folding rear seats for even more toteworthiness.
Audi calls the A5/S5 Cabriolet a four-seater. We’d prefer “two-plus-two.” It’s not that the rear seats aren’t big enough. There’s just very little legroom without major concessions from those in the front seats. That’s unfortunate because the rear seats are well bolstered, though not as much as the front seats, but would provide lateral support in curves, like the front seats do.
The three-layer top provides a snug and quiet interior. It usually requires a semi in the next lane to intrude on in-cockpit bliss. The top also includes LED rear seat reading lights in the headliner, which on our test car was black with a diamond pattern, more attention than a mere headliner usually receives.
As with other Audis using the same drivetrain, the repositioned clutch allows a more forward location of the front axle, which takes weight off the front wheels for better handling, provides a shorter front overhang for improved aesthetics and increases the wheelbase, which typically yields an improved ride, everything else being equal.
The Audi S5’s 3.0-liter V-6 TFSI motor is not, as the T in its name might suggest, turbocharged. Instead, Audi put a supercharger in the vee of the 90-degree V-6 where the intake manifold would usually be. The supercharger, with its dual intercoolers, has a very short gas paths to the combustion chambers. The benefit of supercharging, according to Audi, is the delivery of boost at very low RPM. The engine develops maximum torque at less than 3000rpm, which produces great pull without a turbocharger’s lag, however minute. A twin-turbo configuration was considered but lost to the supercharged engine.
The engine’s numbers are impressive, with 333 hp produced from 5500 to 7000 rpm, and peak torque–if it can be called a peak–is 325 lb-ft from 2900 to 5300 rpm.