2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet review

Ah, an Audi S5 without a roof!

Yep. Audi engineers worked magic on the S5 Cabriolet’s donor vehicle, infusing a medium luxury coupe with dazzling dynamics and sizzling straight-line stonk. We’re hoping peeling the roof only enriches the experience here.

Shouldn’t be hard with a tin-opener, right?

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet side
We’re told the wheelbase has extended, slightly, for more legroom. It’s 47mm longer. There’s plenty of high-strength steel padding the chassis, and the end result is a car it’s 40kg lighter and 40 per cent stiffer than the old car, but some 225kg heavier than its hard-top sibling.

Beauty is pain.

It’s sleek and muscular, like if Heidi Klum was a Ninja Warrior, thanks to that ‘Tornado’ character line and bulging bonnet. Stowing away the roof, in 15 seconds, makes it twice as pretty.

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet steering wheelDuring top-down punts there are neck heaters, multi-microphone seatbelts, and wind blockers to shield you from the elements. While the roof padding and glass has been beefed up to make sure it lives up to the company’s bunker-like noise standards.

Well, you’d expect that for $129K!

Erm, that was the previous car’s price. BMW and Mercedes-AMG pulled Audi’s pants down after lobbing their 440i and C43 drop-tops at around $118K. So Audi’s slashed the S5 Cabriolet price by $10K, to peg it at $119,111.

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet engineThis includes a 3.0-litre V6 quattro drivetrain, which now sports an eight-speed torque-converter and all-new turbocharged engine. It makes 260kW and 500Nm. Meanwhile there’s an extra $14K worth of equipment, including adaptive dampers, red calipers, and a load of safety assists, compared to the $95K non-S 2.0-litre quattro.

Is it worth the coin?

Performance wise it doesn’t feel in the same league as its hard-hat siblings. The primary ride feels a touch stiffer over high frequency stuff, and it lopes a little more over rises. And with an extra 200kg under its shirt the Cabriolet doesn’t turn-in with the same crispness. The suspension also works hard to keep the extra mass in check.

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet frontThe drivetrain’s a big step up from the 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre Quattro S-tronic, with 500Nm peaking at 1370rpm the S4 promises effortless cruising and the eight-speed auto is smooth. But that extra mass means flat-chat its 0.4sec slower than the S5 Coupe, which is obvious at the helm.

Conversely, the roof adds proper gran touring appeal to the experience. The standard sport seats are more comfortable than most people’s beds, and it’s easier to have conversation at 100km/h with the roof down than it is some closed in sportscars.

And there’s that engine note you have front-row seats for. The twin-scroll turbo engine’s high-tech blare is likeable, delivering upshifts burps and spool hisses that some might find zestier than the old blown six.

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet rear seatsInside’s ultra-premium with enough safety gizmos to drive itself. Comfort levels are high, even if you can’t have neck heaters on the S-Sport seats, and the technology is staggering. Virtual cockpit remains a class standout and the infotainment system is highly capable, even if it’s complex menu systems are sometimes overwhelming.

Comes crunch time on options, though, we wouldn’t bother with the sports-differential and instead concentrate on the Cabriolet’s luxo tech-appeal. We'd try stretch to the technik package, which includes higher-end B&O sound system and a heads-up display.

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet convertibleIt’s nowhere near a Boxster for fun, and we don’t think Audi’s A5 Cabriolet buyers are much into track days. Which makes us ponder the fast-cab concept. But if you must have a luxury performance convertible, anyone looking at BMW’s 440i, and Mercedes-AMG’s C43, ought to drive this first.

With their on-paper price and performance almost equal, it’s the Audi’s overall package that feels a generation ahead and we’d be leaning towards it in an on-road punch up.  

Audi’s hasn’t built an S5 without a roof, it’s just not dynamic and fast enough, but you won’t be disappointed with the end result.

4.0 stars out of 5
Likes: Sleek looks, gran touring ability, solid drivetrain
Dislikes: Dulled handling, blunted acceleration, puzzling options list

2017 Audi S5 Cabriolet specs:
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, turbo
Power: 260kW @ 5400rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 1370rpm
Weight: 1840kg
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 5.1 seconds

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