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Only the top is soft in new Audi A5/S5 cabriolet

Mon, 02 Mar 2009

Audi is bucking the trend among luxury automakers who are churning out hardtop convertibles, as the new A5/S5 cabriolets that will reach these shores in October will be the old-fashioned, soft-top design.

While other manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Volvo, among others, offer folding hard-tops, Audi says the compromise necessary to make room for the top and all its mechanical apparatus makes a soft-top the right choice for a small to mid-size convertible.

The soft top is well insulated; even during a steady rain during our first drive of the car, the cabin was relatively quiet. The trunk room is adequate for a couple of large suitcases. If you need more space, the 50/50 split rear seat folds flat.

The cabrios will come to the United States with three engine choices:

-- An A5 with a 2.0-liter turbocharged FSI four-cylinder making 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and fitted with either a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission in quattro form or Audi's Multitronic CVT for the front-wheel-drive model.

-- Next in line is a 3.2-liter FSI V6 delivering 265 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque equipped with the six-speed Tiptronic with quattro.

-- At the top of the line is the S5 with a 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V6 making 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque mated to Audi's new S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

The S5 coupe on which the cabriolet is based is still equipped with a V8 making 354 hp. That will continue through the 2010 model year, but after that, the S5 will come with the 3.0-liter supercharged powerplant.

The A5/S5 cabrio replaces the A4 convertible in Audi's lineup.

By Roger Hart