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2010 Audi S5 Convertible

Jeff Glucker July 22, 2010 Audi Reviews, Road Test Reviews 19 Comments

Click…thunk. Hummmmmmmmmmm. Tweet-tweet-tweet-tw-baROOOM.

Opening the door on the 2010 Audi S5 convertible feels the same as doing so on the coupe. However now I can lower the top, feel the sun on my face, and hear the birds chattering away until I fill the morning air with exhaust. Most importantly however I can finally hear the engine and it tickles my ear with seductively dulcet tones. If the Audi R8 Spyder is the exotic supermodel of the family, the Audi S5 convertible is the more attainable, hot younger sister.

As my friends back East would say, “Kid, this thing is supachahged!” They would be correct and the North Shore of Massachusetts would let freedom scream thanks to 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque belching forth from the 3.0L direct-injection six-cylinder engine, which also features dual intercoolers. However, if I were to drive the car in New England I would be either blasted by humidity or frozen to the Alcantara inserts save for the parts of my ass warmed by the heated seats. I live in Southern California and a week spent with the S5 convertible out here is more akin to spending time with a topless roadster. When the soft-top is up, the car retains most of the lines of the coupe yet the top only function as a neighborhood-cat defense mechanism, when the S5 lies dormant in my driveway.

The tone mine ears perceived from the 2008 S5 V8-equipped coupe was that of a low rumble coming from an engine which was far too polite. The supercharged V6 in the 2010 S5 convertible ditches the table manners for burpy, belchy bravado. The car is still not a screamer, sticking to err on the side of refined luxury, but the noise is much better. It makes the same notes as the new S4 but the open air concert hall feels better than the closed-in club setting.

You can see the S-badging and four rings on the grille out front, so you can safely assume this is a quattro-equipped vehicle. Therefore it handles pretty much just as you would expect. All I have to do is point the car in the direction I want it to go and then mash the gas. If  the car starts to understeer, then I need to give it more gas. The S5 convertible is an excellent tool for sunny-day, curvy-road fun. Is it heavy? Of course it is, it’s an Audi. Does that spoil the fun? No,of course it doesn’t, it’s an Audi. The S5 sport suspension (multi-link front and rear), sport brakes with automatic disc wiping, and the rear-torque biased all-wheel drive system are all components in a delicious equation which equals out to smile-inducing driving. If the weather turns though, just put the top up and drive home quickly and confidently.

One area where I wish Audi was a little more flexible was in the choice of transmission. The manual in the coupe is fun to row through the gears but you can opt for the seven-speed S-Tronic if so inclined. The convertible offers you the choice of the seven-speed dual-clutch or…well, not owning the S5 convertible. However, they are not simply flashing the bird to North America – this is the only powertrain configuration available worldwide. So you know what? Why quibble over it. It shifts quickly, both up and down, in manual mode and did not take away from the fun I had while tossing this topless Teutonic temptress.

The interior of the 2010 Audi S5 convertible is no different from anything in the current lineup. Fit and finish is top notch and the central touch-screen has one of the best displays available. It gets a little washed in direct sunlight yet it doesn’t fade completely and is still quite readable. The Audi concert audio system sounds great, and I really enjoy the available SD card slot (of which there are two). Instead of plugging in a device, I simply insert my memory card and I have access to my music. It sounds great top up or down, which is no easy task. Another great feature is actually a lack of something – with the top up, road noise is comparable to most coupes. The S5 convertible makes myself and any (front-seat) passengers comfortable regardless of where the top is positioned. The back seat is a different story. Unless you are of an age where you find Dora the Explorer to be a jet-setting icon, the rear seating area is not a happy place to be. I used it for storage and not for torturing “friends”.

On the outside, Audi did a wonderful job of keeping the sculpted body lines from the coupe. In fact, I think the shoulder line becomes more dramatic when the top is dropped. From the LED daytime lights flowing back to the LED taillights, the line is graceful and provides much of the presence that the S5 commands. Almost every piece of the exterior design works wonderfully though I am still torn on the red top. I know a black top might be bland, but I think it would look much nicer with the Ice Silver Metallic paint job. Good thing I kept the red hidden for most of the week I spent with the car.

The 2010 Audi S5 convertible starts at $58,250 and the one you see tested here will cost you $61,950. The problem with this price is what lies on either side of it. Sitting below the S5 convertible are the BMW 335i and Infiniti G37 convertibles. The S5 makes more power than both and, in my opinion, looks better too, in addition to being the only one with all-wheel drive. However, both the BMW and Infiniti offer a manual transmission and good ones at that. If you venture a few grand above the S5 convertible there is another obstacle…the 2011 Mercedes Benz E-550 drop-top. It starts just 3 grand more than the S5 and boasts 382 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque. The price of the 2010 Audi S5 convertible forces you to make compromises. You can save some money and get a manual but be down on power, or you can spend a little more and have a convertible muscle car. One thing is for sure however, if you get the S5 convertible you will be happy…and you will have the best looking car out of the whole group.

  • That top makes me feel like little Danny Torrance: RedRoof RedROOF REDROOF!!!

    Not my style at all.

  • Henry VIII, your car has arrived. Travel with your current ball-and-chain and two past favorites in style!
    <width="500" img src="http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/IMG_7091.jpg"&gt;

  • I think I can no longer love on this car now that it's missing the aural sculpture of the V8, even though it is pretty hot-looking with no roof.

  • Jeff, what kind of neighborhoods were you driving this through that you had to blast Jay-Z to fit in?
    Awesome review of an awesome car, but that red top over silver has to go. Is navy blue available?

    • I blast Jay-Z in all neighborhoods… from 1-Star LeMons trackside motels to 5-Star press trips to which we have yet to be invited to attend.

  • Manic_King

    God, those red seats and top look wrong with silver. Tacky even. And no V8, that new motor was comparable torque-wise at least, I hope?
    If back seat is a joke then I assume there's even more comp. from 2 seat convertibles@&lt;$60k ? I'd probably prefer Z4 or this Audi in CA, over alternatives like 335 or E550.
    EDIT: and they also have brown roof available, but only with white car, what kind of combination is this, brown+white? What are those people smoking at Audi's design lab?

    • I agree, the red really doesn't work with the silver. It might work on white, but what were Audi thinking putting this colour combination in their press fleet?

    • The seats are fine but I literally winced when I saw the top.

      • It's funny…when I got back from shooting the car, I went through my photos and realized I have like 3 total with the top up. I said "eh, screw it…"

    • Looking at the AudiUSA.com configurator right now…

      The Blue/Black top looks pretty damn good.
      Silver/Black roof looks fine as I thought it would.
      You can't do Red/Red top which is funny…
      Black/Black top is fine of course… but you can do Black/Red top which looks like crap.

      Yikes, you are right about that White/Brown top…

      I think the Sprint Blue Pearl with the black top is the best if you need a color, or black/black if you don't

      • grjas

        I bought one in blue/black colour scheme and it looks awesome esp. in sun light. most of the pics on the net don't pick up the allure of Sprint blue. I even have guys at highway speed on motorcycles rubbernecking…

        • Congrats, that color scheme looks good online and the car is a pleasure to drive…

  • eh, like the a4 convertible before it, it looks like a shoe.

  • Seth L

    Yeah, the chopped top just ruins teh secksy for me. The Red top is almost gauche enough to overcome it, but no.