The Audi RS5 is a sort of lone wolf in a strange land. Four-passenger, two-door convertibles are a rare breed, and they get far more rare when you throw in terms like “all-wheel-drive”, “aggressive”, “V8”, and performance. That’s what we’re dealing with here, and it’s hard to compare the RS5 Cabriolet to other vehicles on the market.
Under the hood we have a rather delightful 4.2-liter V8 that produces 450 horsepower and just under 320 pound-feet of torque. There’s plenty of power on tap, and it’s metered out to all four wheels by way of the seven-speed S-tronic gearbox. My issues with the car begin here.
Audi vehicles are typically not known for producing great noise from the factory. They can be easily opened up, and what flows forth is glorious, but it’s usually not the case right out of the box. The RS5 is no different. Additionally, the gearbox is the standard VW/Audi unit that either wants to drive as miserly as possible in Normal mode, or rather insanely pinging away against the rev limiter in Sport mode. To drive it in the most appropriate manner, you have to play with the paddles. That’s fine, but I would love to see either a bit more aggressive normal mode or a toned down sport mode… as each leans to far to their respective sides.
The rest of the car, however, is delightful. Up front the seats are that perfect mix of comfortable and sporty, while the infotainment system is typical Audi/VW perfect. Well almost perfect, as Audi insists on having its circular knob control system spin the opposite of most other manufacturers. That’s not a problem for those who own the car, of course, just rather annoying for those of us who hop between vehicles on a regular basis (WHAMBULANCE ALERT: CODE RED).
Out on the road, the car drives a bit better than you’d expect from something weighing over 4,000 pounds. This is due in part to the adjustable nature of the dynamic driving modes. I personally prefer the Individual setting, which allows me to a range of features. I put most everything in Sport, while I leave steering in Auto. This keeps things light while out cruising around, but the steering effort begins to tighten up as you add more lock in a speedy bend.
Also bending speedily will be the back of your accountant, as you break it. This thing starts at $79k. As tested here, the car you see is $86k. That’s an absolute ton of money. Yes, it’s a powerful Audi product with a nice interior and the ability to open up the roof towards the sky. Still, I can think of a handful of other vehicles I’d get were I to pry that much coin from my own (fictional) bank account. The problem is that most of those options don’t have the extra two seats the that Audi has… but the Audi seats are nearly useless anyway, so you can almost forget about them.
What we wind up with then, is a car that has solid performance and looks rather nice from the front but will leave you wondering if your money could have been more wisely spent elsewhere.
[Disclaimer: Audi tossed us the keys to the RS5 Cabrio and included a full tank of gas.]