Audi RS5 Cabriolet – Feel the wind in your hair… and in your wallet

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.]

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  1. P161911 Avatar

    A quick ebay search for the other 2 door, 4 passenger, all-wheel drive, aggressive, performance, V-8 (or W-12) convertible that comes to mind is the Bentley Continental GT. It seems that 2007 or 2008 examples with less than 15k miles are in the same price range or cheaper. Can’t imagine they would cost that much more to maintain once the warranty runs out.

    1. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      I mention the Bentley in the video – more so for the fact that the engine comes from an Audi and sounds so much better.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        Sorry, hard to watch videos with sound at work.

  2. ptschett Avatar

    I have a soft spot for 4-seat convertibles by way of my dad’s pair of ’68-’72 GM A-bodies, and I think the basic A5 design (with a fixed roof, or with the convertible top down) is one of the best-looking cars of the modern era. But I have a hard time seeing the point of this particular hardware combination.
    I mean… when I think about a convertible, I’m thinking about those days where the weather justifies putting the top down. (Which I’d want to do at every reasonable opportunity.) And when I think about quattro, I picture the old Group B rally cars on snow-covered or gravel rally stages, or the commercials where they drove the quattro-equipped car up a frickin’ ski slope to show its prowess in winter; conditions where the top probably isn’t going to be down.

    1. theskitter Avatar

      If you ever have the opportunity to drive a convertible during snowfall, with the top down, the heat on full blast, and big soft fluffy flakes floating down into the cabin, I highly recommend it.

  3. Cameron Vanderhorst Avatar
    Cameron Vanderhorst

    I saw an S5 Cabriolet on the road en route to Brad’s wedding. I was unaware they even made a convertible version. I pointed it out to my girlfriend, and she responded dryly “I bet he plays golf.”

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