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Last year I tested the new Audi A5 cabriolet with the all-new 3.0 liter supercharged V6 Quattro and enjoyed every minute I spent behind the wheel during my seven-day test drive. It had the gorgeous looks, powerful 333hp SC V6 engine, all-wheel drive, 6-speed Tiptronic automatic, superb suspension and refined, comfortable and safe interior that you would expect from an Audi.
This time I wanted to step down to a less powerful engine, the basic 2.0 liter turbocharged direct injected inline 4-cylinder engine to get a perspective on the powerplant that most Audi consumers opt for. Although rated at lower 211hp at 2,500-6,000rpm but with a torque rating of 258lb.ft. at just 1,500-4,200rpm, this potent engine still was able to solidly plant my back into my seat when I pushed the throttle to the metal at launch. With 90% of the torque available at just 1,500rpm from the turbo, it pushed the car to 60mph from a standstill in a scant over 7-seconds. The engine features a cast iron block, aluminum heads, Audi valvelift system on exhaust valves, DOHC’s, precision FSI direct fuel injection, and a exhaust turbo with an intercooler that you can see through the bottom of the front air-intake. It revs high quickly and is very smooth and quiet from the inside.
Also getting my juices flowing is the all-new, smooth-shifting, 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. While my basic A5 didn’t come with the paddle shifters on the leather-wrapped, manual tilt-telescoping, three-spoke steering wheel, the sequential shifting Tiptronic system’s shifter enabled me to shift within milliseconds, just like with the paddles. The new 2011 A5 2.0T FSI Quattro Tiptronic is the only convertible on the market to have an eight-speed automatic. That also equates to a more efficient running engine with EPA mileage specs of 21mpg/city and 29mpg/highway, similar to a high-performance yet non-turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine.
Like all Audi automobiles, the Quattro all-wheel drive system helps in giving you all of the traction you need whether driving on dry or wet pavement, and the self-locking center differential doles out the torque front to rear, and side by side utilizing the front differential and the electronically locking rear differential, all controlled by the electronic stability control program (ESP). You can of course shut the ESP system off when you want to drive the car to its limits and test your handling aptitude.
Giving you a smooth ride and excellent handling ability is the unique, all independent suspension system underpinning the car. The front setup includes 5-links, upper and lower wishbones, gas-pressurized shocks, coil springs and a tubular anti-roll bar. The rear setup features trapezoidal links, a rigid subframe mount, coil springs, gas-pressurized shocks and a solid anti-roll bar. The suspension system really smoothes out the bumps when I drove over poorly paved, pothole strewn streets during the five out of seven rainy days that I tested the car, and it handled the steep curving roads with ease in the mountains during my photo shoot when the sun finally made an appearance. It was riding on rails. Audi suspension engineers have dialed in the right amount of comfort and performance.
The standard Servotronic hydraulically operated speed-sensitive power-assisted rack & pinion steering system is a perfect fit for the new A5 2.0 liter cabriolet. It was weighted just right giving me a great feel for the road, and reacted to my steering inputs immediately, and with precision. Just a little movement right or left moved the front wheels in the direction that I wanted to go. When I was driving in the city I could feel the steering wheel tighten even when slowing down for a turn.
Slowing the car down from speed are excellent, large 4-wheel, power-assisted steel disc brakes. Up front are 13.2in. vented discs with dual-piston calipers, and 12.2in. solid discs with single-piston calipers in the rear. Braking control is enhanced with standard ABS and EBD with the ESP stability program also handling the braking action. The pedal always felt linear and firm, the harder I pushed the stronger the braking power. The system really comes in handy when driving on wet, slick road surfaces also enhanced with the Quattro system to keep you braking in the direction you choose.
Further enhancing the traction and control of the car is the giant footprints from the optional 19X9in. 5-spoke, twin-fork, alloy wheels wrapped around 265/35ZR19in. Dunlop Sport SP high-performance, low profile tires priced at $800.00.
Under the sheetmetal skin this basic 2.0T FSI Quattro 8-speed Tiptrontic cabriolet is unique and gives a smooth and controlled ride under all driving circumstances. I am truly impressed with the power and handling capability of this A5 cabriolet just as much as I was with the more powerful S5 cabriolet, but this model comes with the new 8-speed gearbox that sets it apart from all other mid-size convertibles.
Inside the cabin it is comfort, with ergonomic located controls and luxury touches found in many more expensive midsize convertibles on the market. The leather trimmed 8-way powered front seats are super comfortable and supportive with a power lumbar adjustment for the driver’s side. All controls are easy to reach and operate whether it is the instrument cluster, center stack, or the aluminum trimmed gearshift gate with leather topped shifter.
The center console features the electronic parking brake control, all-windows up/down control, ESP on/off button, a cigar lighter and ash tray under the center stack, dual cupholders, a large storage bin with leather-topped lid and armrest. The first aluminum trimmed control button on the center console is to lower or raise the 3-piece convertible top that takes just 17-seconds to cycle, and keeps the interior very quiet on the road, and climate secure in hot, cold or wet weather. I should know about the wet weather since it rained five of the seven days that I tested the car.
More standard features inside include a wind blocker that attaches to the sides of the rear seating area, foglamps, power-remote/heated dual sideview mirrors, air-vents behind the center console with its own thermostat for three-zone automatic climate control that is part of the Premium Plus Package, aluminum ‘Hologram’ interior trim pieces on the dashboard and doors, driver information system with trip computer, concert radio with CD player, SD card slot, auxiliary audio input, AM-FM-SIRIUS stereo radio with 10-speakers, electronic cruise control, rain-sensing, vario-speed intermittent wipers/washers, split-folding rear seat with full pass-through to the trunk, aluminum trim around the dashboard and rear air vents, instrument panel, center console. For storage there is a deep and wide glove storage box, and storage slots in each door bottom. Standard features also include dual LED map lights, dual LED lighted vanity mirrors, and dual rear seat LED reading lights.
The Premium Plus Package that was the only other option, besides the optional 19in. wheels/tires, also includes Xenon plus headlamps, LED taillamps, LED daytime running lamps, 18X8.5in. aluminum wheels and 245/40R18in. performance tires, Bluetooth hands free phone interface on the steering wheel, heated front seats, Audi music interface that replaces the auxiliary input, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain/light sensor. The wider aluminum-tipped dual outlets were a $130.00 appearance option.
The styling of the new 2011 Audi A5 is stunning with a long, lunging hood and short rear trunk. Up front is the powerful single frame grille with chrome surround and chrome slats, a lower air intake for the turbocharger’s intercooler, side wings for the foglamps, lower splitter to increase front downforce, and the uniquely formed headlamp clusters. The aluminum hood features two discreet scallops at the sides up to the unique, steeply raked full perimeter chrome A-pillars.
The side shows gracefully styled flanks with bold and muscular fender flares, a full-length crease just below the belt-line and another full-length crease above the lower side extensions. Pull-out door handles make it easy to open each door while the side mirrors are aerodynamically designed to help cut down wind noise and feature repeater signal lights.
At the rear, a lip spoiler at the edge of the trunk enhances downforce, wraparound lamp clusters are clearly seen from behind, a bold rear bumper shows character, wide, round dual exhaust tips are nicely spaced at the sides that cut through the lower blacked-out diffuser. The A5 cabriolet is one of the sleekest styled of all mid-size convertibles.
The standard safety features include dual threshold airbags for driver and front passenger, driver and front passenger seat-mounted head and thorax side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, rigid body shell with special energy-absorbing zones, automatically triggered active roll-over protection, keyless entry, anti-theft alarm, front 3-point seatbelts with automatic pretensioners/load limiters, rear 3-point safety belts with automatic pretensioners, automatic front safety belt presenters that come out of the frame to ease putting on the belts, Audi Backguard system, power central door locks, and lower anchors for child seats.
The new 2011 Audi A5 cabriolet fits perfectly between the A4 and A6 convertibles and exhibits Audi’s outstanding styling, world-class handling with razor sharp response, luxury, comfort and safety abilities found in today’s modern and more expensive convertible automobiles. The base price for the 2.0 Turbo FSI Quattro 8-speed Tiptronic cabriolet is $44,190.00, and the nicely loaded model that I test was priced at only $49,605.00 including destination charges.
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