The Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet – the joy of open-top driving

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The top-of-the-line model of Audi’s new family of convertibles is the S5 Cabriolet. The engine of the S5 Cabriolet is the newly developed, supercharged three-liter V6 with gasoline direct injection. Prices start at EUR 37,300 for the 1.8 TFSI with 118 kW (160 hp) and six-speed manual transmission. Delivery of the first A5 Cabriolet models will begin in the second quarter of 2009.

Like all open-top Audi models, the new A5 Cabriolet too has a classic fabric top – which endows it with a striking silhouette of dynamic elegance. The lightweight softtop opens in 15 seconds – and closes in 17 seconds. The fully automatic open/close drive comes as standard. An acoustic top is optionally available, which reduces wind noise almost to the hardtop level.

When opened, the Audi A5 Cabriolet top folds down so effectively that very little trunk space is used up – leaving 320 liters (11.3 cu ft) of unused storage volume, clearly the best value in its field of competitors. The softtop compartment lowers itself automatically when the top is opened.

Equally useful is the fold-down rear seat backrest with the large pass-through between the luggage space and the interior, which increases the storage volume to a generous 750 liters (26.49 cu. ft.).

Automatic seat belt extenders round out the comfort in the interior. Neck-level heating is optionally available for the front seats. The optional leather seats are coated with a special layer to reduce solar heating. There is comfortable room for four persons. The refined ambience combines with exemplary ergonomics to convey an atmosphere of sporty elegance. Ultra-high-strength steels and selective reinforcements of the body ensure maximal rigidity and crash safety.

The A5 Cabriolet is being launched with three gasoline engines and two diesel engines, with power outputs ranging from 132 kW (180 hp) to 195 kW (265 hp). All five powerplants are fueled via direct injection; four of them use turbocharging. Available power trains include a six-speed manual transmission, the continuously variable multitronic, and the lightning-fast, seven-speed S tronic.

In addition to front-wheel drive, Audi also offers quattro permanent all-wheel drive for the higher-power engines. The innovative sport differential, which variably distributes the propulsive power between the rear wheels, is optionally available to make quattro even more dynamic and even safer.

Fascinating dynamics: Audi drive select

The perfect addition to this technology package is the Audi drive select vehicle dynamics system, which enables the driver to chose among three different engine maps controlling the characteristics of the fuel feed, the shifting points of the seven-speed S tronic and multitronic, and the mode of operation of the servotronic steering system. If the MMI operating system is installed, a fourth, freely programmable level is also available.

Audi drive select is only available in combination with one or more of three additional technologies – the sport differential, the adaptive control for the shock absorbers, and dynamic steering. This is an additional high-tech solution: Its superposition gear varies the gear ratio as a function of the driving speed by up to 100 percent.

The exterior design

The Audi A5 Cabriolet combines Audi’s progressive styling with the fascination of an open-top car. The long engine hood, the sharp lines, the sweep of the shoulder contour, the elegantly curved surfaces, the large wheels, the distinctive front end, and the expressive tail all interact to create a sculptural, sensuous whole. The A5 Cabriolet is 4.63 meters (15.19 ft) long and 1.85 meters (6.07 ft) wide, but only 1.38 meters (4.53 ft) tall: the sportiest proportions in its class.

The styling of the front end is dominated by the single-frame grille, which is flanked by large air intakes. The exquisite design of the headlights makes them look like technical jewels. The daytime running lights of the optional xenon plus headlights consist of LEDs. An aluminum molding lends high gloss to the windshield frame.

The looks of the tail end are sharpened by horizontal lines, broad tail lights, straight tailpipes, and a distinctly colored diffuser insert. The trunk lid bears an unobtrusive spoiler lip. The xenon plus headlight option comes complete with LED taillights, which create a distinctive light pattern.

The convertible top

The fabric top with the large glass rear window fits smoothly into the design profile. This is one of several reasons why Audi preferred it to a folding steel roof. What’s more, its construction is much lighter in weight, which reduces the overall weight of the Cabriolet and lowers its center of gravity. The outer skin of the top is available in a choice of four colors, the inside in three.

The softtop consists of three layers. The intermediate layer is a cushioning pad. In the optional acoustic top, which reduces wind noise almost to hardtop level, this is replaced by a foam layer up to 15 millimeters (0.59 in) in thickness. The acoustic top comes with a ceiling light for the rear seat – a solution usually only found in the topmost convertible luxury segment.

The body

As is typical of Audi models, the A5 Cabriolet has an extremely rigid body. This is a prime reason for its precise driving performance, its high comfort level, and its maximized crash safety.

In the construction of the body-in-white, several innovative technologies are used. A prime example are the ultra-high-strength steels with their extremely high tensile strength, which Audi manufactures in-house using hot forming. The front fenders of the A5 Cabriolet are made of aluminum to lower the weight and to optimize axle load distribution. An enclosed underbody improves the airflow and thereby the fuel efficiency. 

A whole array of additional reinforcement parts compensates for the absence of a solid roof. They are located in the front section, in the side skirts, in the windshield frame, and in the rear section. Located between the interior and the luggage section is the rollover protection. When a rollover threatens, spring-loaded aluminum braces are raised behind the rear seat headrests. Door-mounted head and chest sidebags provide protection in the event of a lateral impact.

The interior

With its generous wheelbase of 2.75 meters (9.02 ft) and the longest interior in its class, the Audi A5 Cabriolet has plenty of room for longer trips. That’s also true for the rear seats, which can be optionally divided by a center console with two cup holders.

Elegance in flowing lines, functional ergonomics, and top-quality craftsmanship are the principal characteristics of the interior – and this too is typically Audi. The teardrop-shaped settings of the instruments have already become modern classics. The centrally mounted onboard monitor is standard equipment. The formed-plastic console focuses on the driver. Flowing lines link it to the central tunnel and the door linings. If the customer has ordered either one of the two navigation systems it comes with the highly convenient MMI operating system – the best solution on the market.

The engines

In the propulsion system of the A5 Cabriolet too Audi has consistently relied on innovative technologies: All five engines – the two TDIs and the three gasoline engines – use direct injection. They are impressive evidence that, at Audi, efficiency and dynamics go together and are interdependent.

The most powerful gasoline engine in the Audi A5 Cabriolet is the 3.2-liter FSI. It operates with the innovative Audi valvelift system, which varies the lift of the intake valves in two stages. As a result, the gas exchange improves and the throttle can be left open more often, minimizing throttling losses – which in turn boosts the torque and the power output while reducing fuel consumption. The V6 delivers up to 195 kW (265 hp) as well as 330 Nm (243.4 lb-ft) between 3,000 and 5,000 rpm. With front-wheel drive and multitronic it accelerates the A5 Cabriolet in 6.9 seconds to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) – and up to a top speed of 246 km/h (152.86 mph). Its average fuel efficiency is an impressive 8.6 liters/100 km (27.35 US mpg). An optional alternative is quattro all-wheel drive, combined with the new seven-speed S tronic.

The transmission

Audi provides a choice of three different transmissions for the A5 Cabriolet. The 2.0 TFSI with 155 kW (211 hp) comes with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, which excels in its short shifting travels and high operating precision. Both the two-liter engine and the 3.2 FSI are available with the multitronic continuously variable automatic transmission as an option, which combines smooth operation with high efficiency and a fuel-saving transmission ratio. For a dynamic driving style the multitronic is available with a sport program and a manual mode with eight fixed speeds.

For the more powerful version of the 2.0 TFSI and for the 3.2 FSI, the seven-speed S tronic is available as an option; in the 3.0 TDI it is standard equipment. This new high-tech dual-clutch transmission changes gears in a few hundredths of a second, and so smoothly that the driver hardly notices it. What’s more, it is highly efficient and fuel-saving. The driver can let the seven-speed S tronic shift automatically or interact, if desired, via rocker switches on the steering wheel.

The chassis

The Audi A5 Cabriolet leads its class in all relevant sporty criteria – steering response, stability and agility – yet it provides a very smooth ride. The reason for these strengths is the perfect distribution of axle loads. The front axle is located far forward in the front section – a configuration made possible by an unusual solution: the differential is mounted in front of the clutch or torque converter.

The chassis design too is technologically advanced: The front wheels are mounted on a five-link axle. The front axle support is firmly bolted to the body in order to maximize rigidity. The steering forces are transmitted to the wheels directly via the steering box, which is mounted very low within the chassis. The hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering provides a very responsive and highly precise connection to the road. Optionally available is the servotronic, which adjusts its support level to the driving speed.

The equipment

The Audi A5 Cabriolet comes with an impressive array of standard equipment. This includes a fully automatic convertible top, 16-inch or 17-inch alloy wheels, a fold-down rear seatback with a large pass-through, and automatic air conditioning; the chorus audio system comes with integral CD player. Electric seat belt extenders and an electromagnetic parking brake are also standard.

Further luxury is available in the options: The adaptive light option combines xenon plus headlights with dynamic cornering lights; the high-beam assistant changes automatically between low beam and high beam. The advanced key provides keyless access and allows starting the car as well as opening and closing the top remotely. The deluxe automatic air conditioning manages the temperature separately in three zones in the vehicle. The acoustic top further lowers the wind noise level. And the climate-controlled comfort seat in combination with the neck-level heating creates a perfectly tempered environment.

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