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2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet Review & Test Drive

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With its introduction in 2009 as a midsize performance coupe with a standard 4.2 liter V8 engine, the S5 coupe turned on many coupe enthusiasts and auto journalists with the cutting-edge styling, V8 power and interior amenities.  Also, the all-new 2009 S5 coupe went against the trend of manufacturing smaller cars to help with the rising price of fuel.  This year Audi chops the top off the S5 and replaces the 4.2 liter V8 with a 3.0 liter twin intercooled supercharger unit backed up with the new 7-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission.  This strategy works because the new engine gives 20% better overall fuel mileage yet makes the same 325lb.ft. of torque as the larger V8 engine.  The supercharger also generates more low-end torque enabling the S5 cabriolet to match the 0-60mph time of just 5.2sec.  You can still get the V8 if you want but it is only available in the S5 coupe.

This convertible model is something very special and unique.  With just a push of the chrome-tipped toggle switch on the center console the stunning red cloth top raises or lowers in just 15sec., the fastest of any convertible in the segment, and it is also as quiet as the coupe because of Audi’s outstanding acoustic sound-insulating technology.  After driving seven days behind the wheel with the top up, it does block out much of the outside noise.

Also exclusive to the S5 soft top is the split rear folding seats with automatic controls in the trunk to quick lower each rear seat back to increase storage space with the top up or down.  Finally, when the engine is turned on or in accessory mode, the seat belt is automatically extended 6in. out of its keeper to make grabbing it more convenience and safer.  Another industry first!  When the top is down and you want less wind noise you can easily attach the standard wind blocker.

The Audi signature dynamic five link independent front suspension and multi-link rear suspension is slightly less sport-tuned than the S5 coupe because of the heavier weight of the convertible top, but it handles just fine getting around slower city traffic or on the open road.  Put the 7-speed automatic in S (sport) mode and the suspension tightens, the gear changes come faster and the Servotronic speed sensitive steering reaction quickens to your inputs.  The Quattro AWD system has also been enhanced with the new rear torque bias.  It is fantastic!  You are truly riding on rails as the S5 convertible just sticks like glue on the pavement.

That fact is also enhanced because the new S5 convertible rides on wide, 19X8.5in. 5-double-spoke alloy wheels wrapped with Dunlop’s finest 225/35ZR19in. high-performance tires.

Quickly slowing the new S5 convertible down from speed are strong power-assisted, 4-wheel disc brakes that are vented at each wheel.  Up front are 13.6in. vented discs with enhanced performance brake pads and 13in. rear discs enhanced with performance brake pads. The standard brake disc wiping system keeps the discs dry and clear of dust or mud.

Also enhancing your braking power and control are standard ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.  Keeping you on your chosen path during spirited driving times is Audi’s standard ESP Electronic Stabilization Program that works with all the dynamic systems on board and helps to keep you from understeer or oversteer when challenging steep curves.  You can, of course, shut the system down to take advantage of the cars dynamic power and handling and see how far you can come to the S5’s adhesion threshold.

I have to say that when I was behind the wheel I felt as if I was an integral part of the car when I pushed on the throttle, turned the 3-spoke, tilt/telescoping/leather-wrapped steering wheel or tapped the brake pedal.  It all comes together so nicely and so quickly and so linear, I was in control.

On the inside follows the great engineering under the skin as the interior is another Audi attribute as one of the best.

You sit in S5 specific red/black, high-backed leather trimmed sport seats with Alcantara inserts.  Each seat has plenty of side bolstering to keep you solidly in place during spirited driving times.

The 200mph speedometer and 8,000rpm tachometer and easily seen as is the centered Driver Information screen that you can program to your liking.  All around you is real aluminum trim and soft quality material on the dashboard.  The center stack is easy to reach as are all of the other dials, switches and buttons.  The sporty, 3-spoke steering wheel feels great in your hands and the gated leather-topped shifter is within easy reach.

Visibility is excellent for a convertible with a slight blind spot after the small working side windows plus you have the option of having a rearview camera with sensors to help guide you when backing up.  There is plenty of leg and head room so you never feel closed in with the top up.  Who can ask for anything more?

Standard equipment on the new 2010 Audi S5 convertible that I have not mentioned above include Audi xenon plus headlamps with LED daytime running lights, power driver and passenger seat adjustment with lumbar support, heated front seats, front center console with storage/dual cupholders, 3-zone climate control with rear air vents/center console with dual cupholders, Audi concert AM-FM radio with in-dash CD player SD car slot, Sirius satellite radio, Audi music interface iPod integration, Bluetooth hands-free phone, dual map lamps, dual lighted vanity mirrors, remote/heated side mirrors, thick cut-pile carpeting/floor mats, intermittent wipers/washers, power door locks/power windows as express up/down, and electronic cruise control.  Options include radar adaptive cruise control, Navigation package with camera, color driver information, rearview camera, rear park sensors and 3-gib MMI center controller that is more user friendly than ever.

Standard safety systems include full-size dual threshold airbags up front, driver and front passenger seat-mounted thorax side airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, rigid body shell with special energy-absorbing zones front/rear/side, front and rear 3-point safety belts with automatic pretensioning front belts with force limiters, side intrusion protection, anti-theft vehicle alarm and ignition immobilizer, and automatic deploying U-bars behind the rear headrest.

The new 2010 Audi S5 convertible is a breath of fresh air for the open top segment in the industry.  It comes to market with all of Audi’s famed quality, workmanship and industry firsts for its segment for all of the other brands to follow.

COPYRIGHT:2010:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $58,250
Type: Midsize Convertible
Where Built: Germany
EPA Class: Subcompact Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 182.1 in. Height: 54.5 in.
Wheel Base: 108.3 in.
Interior
Front Head Room: 39.9 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.3 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.3 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 46.9 in.
Luggage Capacity: 11.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 4

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 6
Base Engine Size: 3 liters
Base Engine Type: V6
Horsepower: 333 hp
Max Horsepower: 5500 rpm
Torque: 325 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 2900 rpm
Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 37.4 ft.
0-60mph: 5.2 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.9 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 17 mpg / 26 mpg / 20 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 287.3 mi. / 439.4 mi. / 338 mi.

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