It’s dead of winter in Detroit, but the Audi brand gave drivers something to look forward to when the weather warms up: the 2018 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolets. These are the convertible versions of the Audi A5 and S5 Coupes, which were introduced to the public late last year, at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show. Oh, and the A5 Coupe is essentially a two-door version of the Audi A4 compact sport sedan, with the “S” editions offering a package of high-performance upgrades.
Obviously, the key difference between the Coupes and the Cabriolets is that the latter are equipped with an insulated, power-operated soft top. The top itself is lighter and more rigid than the units found in the previous-generation A5 Cabriolet, and the new design creates more than an inch of extra shoulder space for the front-row passenger. Rear legroom grows by more than an inch as well. In terms of trunk space, Audi has yet to provide full specs for the vehicles, but the company reports that, because the top folds into a tray beneath the cargo compartment, the A5 and S5 Cabriolets offer “the largest possible luggage space at all times.”
As for the top’s one-touch operation, it allows the roof to be retracted in 15 seconds, and then reclosed in 18. Both procedures can take place with the cars in motion, too, at speeds of up to 31 mph.
Actually putting the A5 and S5 into motion are two engines. The A5 Coupe and Cabriolet have a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that’s been turbocharged to produce 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. This unit is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to enable zero to 60 mph acceleration of 6.0 seconds, or .6 seconds faster than the last A5 model.
The 2018 S5 Cabriolet is also a half second quicker to 60 mph than its predecessor, relying on a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 to reach that speed in 4.8 seconds. Here, drivers enjoy 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, along with a standard eight-speed automatic transmission. Every A5/S5 model further comes with Audi’s multi-mode “drive select” system and Quattro all-wheel drive as standard equipment.
That all-wheel-drive system also influences the appearance of the A5 and S5, which feature subtly curved, “wave-design” shoulder lines that are meant to provide a visual reminder of that technology. Standard LED daytime running lights and taillights, and available full LED headlights, are among the cars’ additional exterior touches. In the cabin, eight-way power adjustable front seats are standard for A5 models, while the S5 Coupe and Cabriolet get dedicated sport seats.
Finally, the cockpit for the A5/S5 lineup is home to a wide range of Audi’s favorite convenience and driver-assistance technologies, starting with the brand’s Virtual Cockpit. This essentially replaces the traditional instrument cluster with a reconfigurable, high-resolution infotainment screen. Also available is the latest MMI touch control interface that introduces Audi’s handwriting recognition technology to both models. Of course, voice recognition is standard for the lineup, with the Cabriolets debuting microphones mounted on their front seatbelts for improved voice-control functionality, even with the wind blowing.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration are standard, and connectivity can be enhanced with a 4G mobile Wi-Fi hot spot. Heating up the audio options: a Bang & Olufsen audio system with 20 speakers, 755 watts of power and 3D sound.
A long list of standard and available safety technologies then includes all of the usual suspects, such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure assistance and rear cross-traffic alert. There are also a number of more sophisticated systems. For example, the Driver Assistance package for the A5/S5 has a “Turn assist” function that can detect an oncoming car when the driver is attempting a left turn, then slow or stop the Audi (in some scenarios).
Audi will provide more information about pricing and release dates for the 2018 Audi A5 and S5 at a later date.