We've always had a soft spot for coupés, so when Audi presented us with an A5, chopped the roof off and stuck on an RS badge, there was plenty to be excited about. Because one of our favourite coupés just become one of the hottest convertibles on the road. The Audi RS5 Cabriolet loses the eye-catching roofline of the coupé, in favour of a fabric folding roof. This roof will open in 15 seconds, close in 17, while you can be driving the car at up to 3mph while doing it.
Choosing a fabric roof, rather than a folding hard top, was a deliberate move by Audi to ensure that there was never any mistake that this car was a true cabriolet. Perhaps that's bucking the trend of some, but it makes the same statement as the RS5's natural rival, the BMW M3 Cabriolet.
We got our hands on the Audi RS5 Cabriolet finished in Misano Red and if you're going to spend in excess of £70k (as tested here) on a 4.2-litre V8 convertible, then that firey red should help make the point that you're driving a pretty special car.
That 4.2-litre V8 FSI engine is hand-built, giving you 450PS, to take the Audi RS5 from 0-62 in 4.9 seconds, which, considering you'll be doing that with passengers in the back and a boot that will fit a proper suitcase or two, is seriously fast. But the Audi manages to balance that power with plenty of refinement. The wheel arches aren't aggressively flared, there's no gaping hole in the bonnet, but we love the subtlety of the carbon fibre spoiler on the back.
Where some marques opt for drama in design, Audi is more constant, more mature perhaps, as we found with the Audi R8 Spyder, the car from which this engine is derived.
But slip into the Lunar Silver Nappa leather seats, with RS detailing, and accept the seatbelt that’s powered forward for easy reach, and you’ll know that you’re sitting in a very high-quality car. Push the start button and that V8 roars to life. And that engine might be what sells the Audi RS5 the most, because it purrs beautifully at idle, turning a growl into a roar as you put your foot down.
Paired with the 7-speed S tronic gearbox,the automatic box can be left to smoothly deliver that power, or take control yourself with the paddles on the steering wheel. There's a price to pay in fuel efficiency, with Audi giving a combined figure of 26.4mpg, but you'll be enjoying every mile along the way.
The Audi RS5 Cabriolet is Quattro, naturally, giving you permanent four-wheel drive, as well as heap of technology to ensure that you’re getting the power where you need it, and the option for ceramic brakes as an upgrade, along with plenty of other options.
On the road the Audi RS5 puts a smile on our face, as this is a wonderful car to drive, roof up or down. The roof is triple insulated and when down there's a draft diffuser that will sit over the back seats as if you're driving a two-seater. It folds nicely and slips away under the floor of the boot when not in use.
We didn't have a long time to drive the Audi RS5, but in the short time we had on the road, we could appreciate the power on offer. This is a car that will surge forward when you ask it to, really gripping the roads, while offering a ride that’s firm, but not spine-cracking. It's a driving experience that matches what we found in the new Audi RS6 Avant that we powered along the German autobahns. But the roads of rural Berkshire didn't offer the same opportunities to experience the true power this beast offers.
There's plenty of technology internally too, with all the options you’d expect. That means you get Audi's MMI system for entertainment, along with the option for the 14-speaker 505W Bang & Olufsen sound system, and the convenient extras like auto-dimming mirrors and Audi's clever advanced parking and side assist systems.
There's no arguing that Audi is asking a lot for the RS5, starting at £68,985, but it gives a lot in return and we can't wait to get back behind the wonderfully finished wheel of this refined brute.