The new generation brings vast improvements

Audi has been hard at work revamping its A5 and S5 lineup over the last few years. The two-door coupes and four-door Sportback versions debuted in the U.S. for 2017, bringing the new MLB Evo architecture, big updated in active safety features, and Audi’s widely praised Virtual Cockpit. Now for 2018, the drop-top version gets its go, completing the A5 lineup. But rather than taking Audi’s word on these improvements, I needed the wind through my hair.

A 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet 2.0T with the Prestige package arrived for the week fitted with nearly every option. While that inflated the price slightly past $65,000, the A5 proved its competence at being an all-rounder, working both as an everyday luxury coupe and as an open-top weekend toy. All it takes is 15 seconds to lower the top and the car changes its demeanor. Much of that can be credited to the multi-layer “acoustic” soft top and generous amounts of insulation. Even passing a semi truck on the interstate is hushed. The new interior pushes the bar for Audi, yet again. Soft-touch materials are paired well with high-end trimmings and in-dash technology that feels cutting-edge. Heck, there’s even microphones embedded into the front seatbelts for taking calls with the top down. It’s this attention to detail that makes the 2018 A5 Cabriolet so interesting. But what’s it like to live with? Keep reading to find out.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

  • 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven
  • Year:
    2018
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    7-Speed Auto
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    252 @ 5000
  • MPG(Cty):
    24
  • MPG(Hwy):
    34
  • Torque @ RPM:
    273 @ 1600
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    130 mph
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:
  • Overall:
    9/10

Video Review

Exterior

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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The updated corporate grille is now proudly displayed, giving the A5 a far more modern touch.

Audi has done an amazing job refining the A5 for its second generation. The updated corporate grille is now proudly displayed, giving the A5 a far more modern touch. The LED headlights and daytime running lights are equally vogue. Nice details like the creased hood lines and sweeping character line over the fenders makes the car look hewn from a solid chunk of aluminum.

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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Adding to the upscale appearance are the optional 19-inch Design Line wheels on my tester. They replace 18-inch, 10-spoke, turbine style wheels that are far less interesting. The two-tone 19s contrast nicely with the Florette Silver Metallic paint and black soft top. With the top stowed, the Nougat Brown interior continues the premium aesthetics. The more angular design for 2018 continues around back, where the taillights now have a more purposeful shape, leaving behind the somewhat soft and rounded look of the previous version. Twin, chrome-tipped exhaust pipes match the chrome badging on the trunk and trim work that wraps around the lower edge of the bumper. Audi is rather conservative with chrome on this cabriolet. Aside from that out back, there is some satin chrome on the windshield hoop and bright chrome on the grille and along the base of the side windows.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 108.9
Length (Inches) 184.0
Height (Inches) 54.4
Width (Inches) 79.9
Track front/rear (Inches) 62.5/61.7

Interior

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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The rear seats aren’t designed for long-distance comfort of a chauffeured dignitary, but rather for those occasional uses when the kiddos ride along.

As before, the 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet is a 2+2 convertible, meaning it has room for four people. The rear seats aren’t designed for long-distance comfort of a chauffeured dignitary, but rather for those occasional uses when the kiddos ride along. Room back there isn’t terrible, though. It’s plenty comfortable for average-sized adults under six-foot, and is perfectly comfortable for younger ones. My five-year-old loved it, especially that she could control her HVAC temperature on her own thanks to the A5’s tri-zone system. Getting in and out is simple, too, thanks to the large release lever atop the front seats. A rocker switch can then move the seat fore and aft for better access.

But the A5 is more focused on those sitting up front. The comfortable, 10-way power seats offer excellent comfort and four-way, power-adjustable lumbar support. They have three-way heating and venting, meaning they have six total temperature settings. There’s even a neck heater for those chilly nights with the top down. Ergonomics are good, too. A tilting and telescoping steering wheel makes it easy to achieve a proper driving position and memory settings allows multiple drivers to save their seat and side mirror settings.

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Interior High Resolution
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It pushes the bar further by incorporating high-end technology with intuitive controls that aren’t different for the sake of being different – at least for the most part.

For decades, Audi has been known for outstanding interiors. The 2018 A5 Cabriolet is no different. It pushes the bar further by incorporating high-end technology with intuitive controls that aren’t different for the sake of being different – at least for the most part. I did have complaints about the electronic shifter. It’s not the most logical design, especially the location of the Park button. Nevertheless, it won’t take owners long to get accustomed. The cupholders were another point of contention. My 32-ounce tumbler had a hard time fitting under the HVAC controls. It’s worse on the passenger’s cupholder, too. Still, they fit. And it’s not like German cars are know for their outstanding cupholders. Audi is leaving that for the American brands, no doubt.

The trade-off for cramped cupholders is worth it, however. Perched just behind them is Audi’s MMI infotainment system controls. It’s the familiar knob and toggle switches mixed with eight preset buttons for the radio. Audi’s latest version of MMI is certainly one of the best systems on the market. Even the most computer-averse won’t need instructions to operate the system. Best of all, the black area atop the main knob is touch sensitive and reads handwriting. Imputting an address into the navigation system is as simple as spelling out the numbers and letters. Swipe left for a backspace; swipe right for a space.

Incorporated into the MMI system is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. Standard only on the range-topping Presiige trim, this 12.3-inch LCD screen hosts vehicle setting menus, speed and engine revs, and Google Maps. Steering wheel buttons control the system and the maps offer a wide range of zooms – from country-wide down to your precise location in a parking lot. Of course, all the modern features are present, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, and SiriusXM.

The A5 Cabriolet’s interior is a wonderful place to spend time. Its combination of high-end materials is matched with well-placed and logical controls. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly good.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 40.0/36.3
Legroom front/rear (Inches) 41.3/33.3
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 55.3/46.9
Passenger volume (cu ft) 81.0
Cargo volume (cu ft) 9.3

Drivetrain

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Drivetrain High Resolution
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In fact, it returns with the familiar 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder.

The 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet doesn’t change much under the hood. In fact, it returns with the familiar 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder. This iron-block, aluminum headed engine uses variable valve timing and direct injection to control combustion, while an intercooler keeps intake temperatures under control. Power is rated at 252 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 273 pound-feet of torque at only 1,600 rpm. A flat torque curve means power is found throughout the rev range.

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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The A5 enjoys a 40/60 split in power, giving it a rear-wheel drive feel under most conditions.

The engine is longitudinally mounted in the car, with a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox hanging off the back. Like with most Audi models, quattro AWD is standard. The A5 enjoys a 40/60 split in power, giving it a rear-wheel drive feel under most conditions. The center differential is automatic, meaning it sends power to whatever axle has the most traction. In ideal conditions, the A5 Cabriolet 2.0T will hit 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. That’s 0.6-seconds faster than the previous A5 Cab. The better performance can be attributed to the decrease weight carried by the 2018 model. In fact, it’s 55 pounds lighter than before.

And while the A5 is plenty sporty, it doesn’t penalize at the pump. The EPA rates the car at 24 mpg city, 34 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. It does require premium fuel, however.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower 252 HP @ 5,000 RPM
Torque 273 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM
Transmission 7-Speed S tronic Dual-Clutch Auto
Fuel economy city/highway/combined mpg 24/34/27
0 to 60 mph 6.0 seconds
Top Speed 130 mph

Behind the Wheel

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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A new five-link front suspension constructed with lightweight materials is said to offer better steering than before.

The A5 Cabriolet enjoys some marked improvements in the driving department. A new five-link front suspension constructed with lightweight materials is said to offer better steering than before. While not quantifiable, the result is subjectively better. The 2018 A5 is also wider and slightly longer than before, giving it a more planted feel. Adaptive dampers also contribute to the A5’s multi-use appeal. Drive modes change the dampers and other inputs like throttle response. Comfort mode smoothes out the ride and gives the throttle a relaxed feel. Juxed Opposed from Comfort mode, Dynamic mode offers a twitchy skinny pedal, a firmer ride, and quicker shifts from the seven-speed dual clutch. I did find the dual clutch a little slower shifting than I expected. In Sport mode and with the paddle shifters, it’s quick, but not as lightening responsive as other dual clutch gearboxes I’ve sampled. It’s hardly a deal-breaking issue, though.

Interior noise levels are surprisingly quiet for a soft top convertible. As mentioned, passing a semi truck on the interstate is more like a whisper than a rock concert. This bodes well with the A5’s luxury side, while top-down driving certainly plays into its wilder side.

Pricing

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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The 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet starts at $49,600 for the “base” Premium trim. Opt for the mid-grade Premium Plus trim, and the price moves to $52,600. The range-topping Prestige trim starts at $57,200. My Prestige-trimmed tester had a laundry list of options included, which pushed the price north by several thousand more. These include the $2,100 Luxury Package, the $1,800 Driver Assistance Package, the $1,050 19-inch Design Line wheels, the $1,000 Adaptive damping suspension, and the $350 high-gloss dark brown Walnut wood inlays. Audi charges $975 for destination and delivery, pushing the total price to $65,050.

Audi A5 Cabrio Premium $49,600
Audi A5 Cabrio Premium Plus $52,600
Audi A5 Cabrio Prestige $57,200
Luxury Package $2,100
Driver Assistance Package $1,800
19-inch Design Line wheels $1,050
Adaptive damping suspension $1,000
High-gloss dark brown Walnut wood inlays $300

The Competition

2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible

2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior High Resolution
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2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible Exterior High Resolution
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The BMW 4 Series convertible isn’t technically all-new, but it’s darn close. It received some new engines for 2017 and for 2018 it sports minor cosmetic updates that keep it looking… well, like a BMW. The outside is typical Bavaria, and the same can be said about the interior. Honestly, the 4 Series looks rather dated in light of the 2018 Audi A5, especially the interior.

Power comes from two engine choices. The standard mill inside the 430i is BMW’s 2.0-liter TwinPower turbo-four. It makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The 440i gets the familiar 3.0-liter TwinPower inline six-cylinder with 320 horses and 330 pound-feet of twist. Both can be had with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox. Rear-drive is standard, but BMW’s xDrive is optional.

Pricing begins at $50,550 for the 430i and $57,500 for the 440i. Adding xDrive to the 430i raises the price to $52,500 and $59,500 for the 440i. Check every option box on a 440i, and the BMW will easily reach $70,000.

Read more about the 2018 BMW 4 Series Convertible here.

Conclusion

2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet – Driven Exterior High Resolution
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Audi certainly did its homework when revamping the A5 lineup. Not only is it more technologically advanced, but it also looks better, includes more active safety systems, and offers more room for all four seating positions. The A5 Cabriolet has some stiff competition, but Audi has a solid player on the field. I enjoyed the A5’s smooth ride yet athletic undertones. Top-down cursing makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Convertibles aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but for those who enjoy the wind-swept look, the 2018 A5 Cabriolet is definitely worth a look.

  • Leave it
    • Gear shifter takes some learning
    • Trunk space is somewhat compromized with lowered top
    • Gets pricy with options
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