Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet (2009) review

Published:09 March 2009

Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

While we’ve all been fussing and fawning over the new Audi S5 Cabriolet, it’s not actually that relevant – just 250-300 are expected to be sold in the UK each year. Instead it’ll be the 2.0-litre petrol and diesels that’ll take 80% of the (hoped for) 5500 sales, split 50:50.

It’s the 2.0-litre diesel we’ve tried here, because it’s the first Audi to be fitted with the company’s new stop/start system and we’re intrigued to see whether the A5 can cope with being an oil-burning drop-top.

I bet the Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet doesn’t drive like that S5…

You’re right, it doesn’t – it’s much better. While the S5 is stiff and unyielding, this lowly diesel is fairly compliant, especially by Audi standards, though there’s still a constant patter over any surface.

It’s the steering that stands out though. The S5 we drove was fitted with Audi’s Drive Select programme, allowing you to change the steering assistance. In Comfort mode it was gloopy, and Dynamic it was weighty but horribly artificial. The 2.0-litre TDI had no such system and was all the better for it – the steering was light, but pleasingly direct and darty. This side of the R8, it’s probably the best steering in any current Audi – but still a long way off that R8 though.

This A5 drop-top has got a diesel engine – is it like driving a convertible tractor?

Not a bit of it. There’s no agricultural growl, just a quiet (if uninspiring) four-pot murmur. With the roof down it’s almost muted, and even with the hood in place it’s louder but never intrusive.

The 258lb ft slug of torque helps pull it briskly along, but with a portly 1657kg kerbweight  – an extra 187kg over the equivalent A5 Coupe – it’s not fast and you need to work the manual ‘box to make it really move.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Audi A5 Cabriolet first drive

What about this stop/start stuff?

It’s a fairly simple system – it’s just taken Audi a few more years than BMW to get the technology to market. So you come to a halt, put the car in neutral and the engine switches off. Dip the clutch, the engine starts, and you’re away again. It doesn’t always work though – after a long motorway thrap (with both the air-con and radio switched off) our car wouldn’t stop/start in traffic.

Other eco-tweaks include a gearshift indicator, already available on other Audi’s, but in the 2.0-litre TDI you can switch the display so that it’s a small green circle if you’re being good, a larger amber one if you’re revving the engine, and a huge pulsating red ball if you’re banging into the rev limiter. There’s also a display which shows you how much more fuel you’re consuming if you use the air-con or other ancillaries.

Anything else?

The fabric-folding hood is rather good, especially if you buy a car with the optional Acoustic Roof. It adds an extra 14mm of foam insulation, and gives the Cabriolet near-A5 Coupe levels of refinement. It’s just a pity it’s a £210 extra on non S-line models.

The new Neck-Level Heating system isn’t bad either – it’s a £340 option but keeps you toasty warm with the roof down. The rest of the A5 Cabriolet is typically Audi - well-built, with a charming and plush interior.

Verdict

Audi's new A5 Cabriolet will fulfil every one of its owner's requirements - it's quiet, comfortable, refined, reasonably fast and economical. But a front-wheel drive diesel convertible is far from a sports car.

>> Would you buy an Audi A5 Cabriolet over a BMW 3-series Convertible, or wait for Mercedes' E-class Convertible? Click 'Add your comment' below and have your say.

Specs

Price when new: £31,375
On sale in the UK: September 2009
Engine: 1968cc 24v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 168bhp @ 4200rpm, 258lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 9.3sec 0-62mph, 138mph, 51.4mpg, 144g/km CO2 (provisional)
Weight / material: 1657kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4625/1854/1383

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  • Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
  • Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
  • Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
  • Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet
  • Audi A5 2.0 TDI Cabriolet

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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