Unless the big red ball drops on us we will never likely have the capacity to own many of the great exotic cars out on the road, but that shouldn’t stop anyone – including us – from dreaming. When it comes to luxury or sports cars, every now and then along comes a real standout, in this case it’s the exceedingly desirable Audi RS 5 Cabriolet.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
You’d be hard pressed to find a sexier looking Audi, take the as tested Cabriolet’s top off and it’s almost obscene exposure. The two door, four seat German creation is simply stare worthy, almost in a perverted way. With the added design highlights that Audi’s RS performance division brings to the already gorgeous A5 design, there’s little doubt we have a stunner on our hands.
You find yourself sinking quite low just to get into the RS 5. Before you is a meaty flat bottomed steering wheel which has an endearing little RS badge glancing up at you. Paddle gear shifters almost cry out for action and a relatively simple but RS enhanced instrument cluster sits idle, ready to spew forth some very impressive numbers.
Glancing over at the rest of the dash and it’s typically Audi, laced with quality and clearly a place reserved for the well-healed. A 7-inch colour MMI Navigation plus display sits deep within the dash and is operated via metallic feel buttons surrounding a rotary dial which quickly and efficiently whisks you away into the many layers of the menu system. Although I’m still a proponent of decent touch-screens.
The hairs on back of your neck spring to attention the first time you turn over the 4.2-litre FSI V8. There’s an initial unprompted spike in revs that would spook the cat, let alone the neighbours. Once the relatively small capacity V8 settles then warms up a little it enters what I call “sleeping giant” mode.
Cruising like a normal citizen is an effortless, hushed affair. But plant the foot and you’ll soon discover what jumping out of a plane feels like. The brutal yet high-tech V8 exhaust note is second to none, at least for any car I’ve driven. You can only imagine what this glorious music score sounds like with the roof removed.
This is a heavy car, and you can feel it. Convertibles require extra structural strength to compensate for the missing roof. But the result in this particular case is a sturdy near scuttle shake free experience. The front window frame flaps around slightly, but it’s barely noticeable.
Pick up the pace a little and you really start to understand the expertise and sophistication that lies within. The RS 5 is nose heavy so you’d assume understeer would pose a problem. Not so, tenacious Quattro enhanced grip and a myriad of computer assisted programs such as torque vectoring look after each wheel individually to keep this near two tonne beast on the tarmac.
Ins and Outs
The gem under the bonnet is a 4.2-litre FSI V8 petrol engine good for 331kW @ 8250rpm with 430nm on tap between 4000rpm – 6000rpm. Extracting all this power is done via a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. These twin clutch gearboxes have a different feel, particularly at lower speeds. There’s a bit of lurching here and there and suspicious clunks occasionally. But from my experience this is typical for this breed of transmission. The milliseconds it takes to flick through the gears more than makes up for it.
The Cabriolet is a fraction slower than the RS 5 coupe with the 100km/h dash completed in 4.9 seconds opposed to 4.5. It’s also significantly more expensive. Audi’s decision to run with a canvas roof over a hard top seems surprising, but with the roof up the outside environment is still silenced adequately enough. But looking at that black canvas is like seeing a bloke wearing a high end tailor-made suit with a straw hat on.
Our test car was fitted with Dynamic Ride Control, essentially a system that reduces body roll using hydraulics. You can dial up just how much damping you need via four settings, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. The feeling of dynamic over comfort is more than noticeable. Choose dynamic on even the smoothest motorway and your cheeks will start wobbling like jelly. Comfort completely irons the road out, it’s a clever lag free system that dramatically alters how the RS 5 drives.
The most novel feature is a satellite navigation system which uses Google Earth mapping. The huge benefit of this is map data that is constantly updated, rather than having to buy an upgraded DVD or SD card. The downside is the system uses a data connection which requires the owner to pay a subscription fee. It’s also prone to drop outs, just like any other cellular service. The message “Google Maps Offline” appeared numerous times during our testing, albeit in quite remote areas.
Our test car was fitted with several options and boy will you have to dig deep for them. For the Crystal effect paint job you’ll be forking out $1,200. The $4,990 Dynamic sports package 3 included sports suspension with Dynamic Ride Control, Sports exhaust with black tailpipe and 20-inch alloy wheels in titanium V-spoke design. A small body coloured rear spoiler sets you back $2,400, matt aluminium styling is $1,400, Audi side assist is a crazy $1400, the 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system tops $1,700 and Audi connect costs $800.
All up this sensational convertible will set you back $189,790.
Fuel consumption is claimed to sit at 10.7l/100 km. I say good luck with that, try closer to 16.0l/100km. In fact you’d struggle to get any more that 430km from a tank.
With the roof off this car attracts more than the occasional glance, it looks like a penthouse on wheels. With those xenon headlamps surrounded by an ominous string of LED lights, gaping mesh front grill, large race inspired spoiler air intakes and perfectly chiselled body you’re sure to be the envy of many on your block.
The Lasting Impression
The canvas roof will need more attention than you may initially think. For starters forget about going topless until the roof is completely dry after a wet spell. Speaking of which virtually all convertibles will eventually allow some water in. People who spend this kind of coin on a car will find the frequent trips to the bowser more of a practical issue rather than a financial burden. But really, I’m clutching at straws here. This a simply brilliant masterpiece, although I’d go for the Coupe.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp.
I grant the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet the EFTM Rubber Stamp of Distinction. It’s the stuff of dreams, so dream on just like me.