This is a 4.2-litre, V8, twin-turbo, petrol 444bhp, 174mph, 2+2, two-door, soft-top performance stunner with a price to match at £68,985 plus extra cost packs and options.
Despite Audi’s record year-after-year sales worldwide (1.45 million units in 2012) and in the UK where 123,622 new Audis were registered last year, the new RS 5 Cabriolet will not add greatly to those UK totals with only 100 of them scheduled to be sold here this year, roughly the same as the RS 5 Coupe.
As a reminder the A5 is really an extension of Audi’s A4 range with A5 Sportback, Coupe and Cabriolet body styles bridging the gap between the A4 and A6 models. This in-filling is all part of Audi’s going for growth plans by adding more models and derivatives. Their model range was 42 at the last count with more to come including the ‘hot’ SQ 5 speedy SUV and S3 hot hatch plus the ‘very hot’, RS 4 Avant, RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback versions.
Gillian Headings, Audi UK’s product manager for the A5 said at the media launch this week, in total the RS performance label is a very much a niche sub-brand with around 1,000 RS models sold in the UK each year. Exclusivity is an important factor for their customers so 100 annual UK sales of the RS 5 Cabriolet is appropriate.
She added, “Advance orders for the RS 5 Cabriolet are predominately from male customers but they will not necessarily be the main driver. The age profile is 40 to 50 years, most are retail customers but there will be a few sales to businesses. “
“Around 50% of customers are taking the optional extra cost £2,250 Sport Package which shows a saving of £2,915 compared with specifying the options individually. The Sport Package adds Dynamic Ride Control, sports suspension, dynamic steering function, sports exhaust and 20-inch alloy wheels instead of the standard 19-inch ones. Also popular is the £950 Driver Assistance Package which consists of adaptive cruise control, parking system, reversing camera and active lane assist,” she added.
Audi UK also has other extra cost packages for customers to invest in for the RS 5 Cabriolet such as a monthly £67, three-year service and maintenance plan or one including tyres for £105 a month. In addition to the standard free two years unlimited mileage and 60,000 miles in the third year warranty, there is an extended four years 75,000 warranty for a one off payment of £535 or a five years/ 90,000 miles one at £1,255.
With Jaguar about to introduce their F-Type, 3-litre, V6, 375bhp, £67,520 soft-top two-seater sports car, the premium cabriolet market sector is going to get lots of media exposure so the arrival of Audi’s RS 5 Cabriolet S-tronic is timely. However the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet’s main competitor remains the less roomy BMW’s M3 Convertible M DCT V8, 4.0-litre, 414bhp rear wheel drive model priced at £61,685.
The A5 Cabriolet is a classy 2+2 two door model with reasonably good rear seat space and legroom and appeals because of its practicality and with a wide range of engine petrol and diesel engine options with prices starting from £31,785. The lightweight three layer fabric hood opens and closes automatically in 15 seconds and 17 seconds respectively at speeds up to 31mph. When open it only requires 60-litres of its total 380-litres boot volume. The split rear seat backs can be folded down individually and there is a through-load facility. The bodyshell has been reinforced to give the Cabriolet body more rigidity and the front wings are aluminium to compensate for some of the added weight of the strengthening. There are RS specific enhancements for the exterior and these include new bumpers front and rear, rear matt carbon boot-lid spoiler, enlarged air inlets, honeycomb grille, expanded wheel arches and side sills, oval exhaust twin tailpipes and 19-inch alloys. Inside the RS tweaks include body hugging sports seats, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel, leather upholstery and door trim panels, sat-nav, carbon and aluminium trim inlays, RS badging and the general high spec items expected from a top-notch Audi such as the Drive Select system which allows individual settings for the steering, gear change points, throttle response and even exhaust tone.
Core to the new RS 5 Cabriolet model is the high-revving, (redlined at 8,250rpm), hand-built 4.2-litre, V8 twin turbocharged petrol engine which delivers 444bhp at maximum revs and 317lb ft of torque from 4,000rpm. Drive to all four wheels is via Audi’s quattro system with up to 70% of drive to the front wheels if required or up to 85% to the rear wheels as required. The default setting is 40% front and 60% rear to ensure sports car handling. A standard fit 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch auto box with sequential, normal and sport modes is used. Top speed is officially restricted to 155mph but Audi is offering a de-restricting option where 174mph is possible. Zero to 62mph takes just 4.9-seconds and the transmission includes a launch-control mode as well. The Combined Cycle fuel consumption is officially 26.4mpg and on my short test drive around the busy Ascot/Windsor area roads and a short burst on the M3 motorway returned 23.3mpg.With CO2 emissions of 249g/km VED road tax is £840 for the First Year rate reducing to £475 for the second year onwards. Company car drivers will be hit with 35% Benefit-in-Kind tax and insurance is rated at group 47E.
The body sits 20mm lower than a standard A5 Cabriolet so the ride is flat and level and very firm. With the quattro all wheel drive system there is immense cornering and acceleration grip. It is ‘a must’, I think, to take the optional Sport Package which includes Dynamic Ride Control where the driver can select various suspension settings. I normally leave this function set in Auto mode but in this case the ride is so firm I went for the Comfort setting and even that was very firm and harsh because of our poor road surfaces. Impacts from potholes and sunken tarmac trenches across roads unsettled the Cabriolet even at modest speeds. The extra rigidity built into the bodyshell just doesn’t allow for much impact absorption so the ride was fidgety. This was made worse by my test car being fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels so any impact from a pothole caused body shake as well. Even on smoother motorway surfaces the firm suspension, ridged bodyshell and big wheels produced too much vibration and noise intrusion.
The RS 5 Cabriolet will be enjoyed because of the performance it gives but not necessarily its driving refinement in terms of ride quality. The engine is awesome, the power delivery fantastic and the exhaust howl on ‘full chat’ acceleration memorable. Exclusivity will also be for a factor for some.
MILESTONES. Audi RS 5 Cabriolet 4.2 FSI quattro S-tronic. Price without options: £68,985.
Engine/transmission: RS hand-built, 4.2-litre, V8, direct injection petrol with twin turbochargers, 444bhp at 8,250rpm, 317lb ft of torque from 4,000rpm, 7-speed, dual clutch automatic, quattro all wheel drive. Performance: 155mph (unrestricted 174mph), 0-62mph 4.9 seconds, 26.4mpg Combined Cycle (23.3mpg on test), CO2 249g/km, VED First Year road tax £840 reducing to £475 for the second year onwards, BIK company car tax 35%. Insurance group: 47E. Layout/dimensions/capacities: 2-doors, 4-seats, boot space - hood folded down 320-litres, 380-litres hood up, 750-litres rear seats folded down, L 4,649mm, W 1,860mm, H 1,380mm. For: Classy and exclusive high performance soft-top, awesome engine, memorable exhaust note during acceleration. Against: Too many options that should be standard fit items, harsh and fidgety ride refinement, body shake.
Miles Better News Agency