2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet review: Coeds’ choice

Standard equipment on the Audi S5 Coupe and Cabriolet is a seven-speed S-Tronic dual clutch automatic transmission. No conventional manual transmission is available. The transmission can be left to shift on its own, which it does well and unobtrusively, but shifting manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is more soul satisfying.

The combination–plus the standard quattro all-wheel drive–make impressive performance numbers. Audi says the S5 Cabriolet will sprint to 60mph in 5.2 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. Acceleration is indeed rapid, and thanks to the S5’s sophisticated  suspension and all-wheel drive, uneventful.

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (click to enlarge)

Don’t wait for soul tingling engine noises, however. It’s all well muffled, though the engine barks subtly at each shift, up or down. It’s more noticeable on the downshift, particularly on bigger steps when the engine has to rev more to match engine speed, but even at full throttle or on the override, the exhaust  and intake noises just aren’t there.

Our test 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet was equipped with Audi “Drive Select”, a $3,950 adaptive vehicle operation package that can tune shock absorbers, engine/throttle mapping, and dynamic steering either in response to driving style, or a driver can preselect, for example, a sport mode that will prime the suspension for a performance driving style. We’ve had experience with the system on an autocross-type course and can verify that it works. We’re not sure, however, that most buyers  will find enough benefit from Drive Select in typical road driving to take the financial leap, even on a vehicle as pricy as the Audi S5 Cabriolet. Of course, as we said, it does what it says it does, so we’ll not discourage anyone from putting it on an Audi S5 Cabriolet. Hey, it’s not our money.

If that’s expensive, however, the Prestige package adds $5,700 to the price of an Audi S5, and it includes, (a) Bang & Olufson premium audio, (b) keyless entry and start/stop, (c) navigation, (d) autodimming mirrors with compass and (d) memory for driver’s seat and exterior mirrors. Pardon us, but that seems rather excessive .  Some of those features are standard or inexpensive options on certain economy cars we could name.

Still, the Prestige package is in an Audi S5 Cabriolet, something that’s not available with the aforementioned economy cars at any price. Ahem.

Audi also offers a $900 Driver Assist package that along with a backup camera and rear sensors (good to have, considering a convertible’s limited rearward visibility with the top raised) includes Audi Side Assist which, in addition to the usual blind spot warning lights, will flash brightly if the turn signals are used for a lane change when a car is in the way.

But option or not, what does it matter? The 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet is a compelling combination of exotic and accessible, though the almost $70,000 price tag on our test 2010 Audi S5 quattro Cabriolet means the model will be accessed by very few.  What those who can afford as Audi S5 Cabriolet should remember, however, that those coeds are probably young enough to be your daughter.