2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Test Drive: 2013 Infiniti IPL G convertible
Quick Spin: 2012 Lexus IS 350c
First Drive: 2013 Audi A5/S5

Manufacturer’s web site
Audi Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 Audi S5

Audi’s A5 and S5 have a unique distinction in the Canadian automotive market: they are the only compact luxury vehicles to offer a combination of top-down motoring and all-wheel drive. In fact, the only other vehicles that offer all-wheel drive top-down motoring are the über-expensive Bentley Continental GTC, the not-exactly-practical Porsche 911, and a pair of Audi’s own sports cars—the TT and R8.

Although it may seem ludicrous to force a convertible to carry around the weight and fuel consumption penalties associated with all-wheel drive for a place like Miami, in cities like Toronto or Boston, which enjoy four full seasons, it’s the best of both worlds. In summer, four can cruise in style while soaking up some rays. Then, when things turn nasty, simply slap on a set of winter tires and laugh your way through the slush and snow. The A5 Cabriolet could quite possibly be the poster child for Canada’s full-weather-spectrum roadways.

2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

As nice as the A5 is though, some may find its 211 hp to be a bit tepid in a Cabriolet at this price point and heft. Luckily, for those wanting more, there is an upgrade: the Audi S5. Painted in elegant Monsoon Grey, my test vehicle arrived as the top-trim S5 Cabriolet Premium sporting a black soft-top roof—other roof colours include red or gray. All-new last year, the changes for 2013 are minor and include a new standard 3-spoke flat bottom steering wheel and new Nappa leather with leather-covered door inserts. Rounding out this year’s additions are the new comfort package (airscarf, ventilated seats) and driving assistance package (active lane assist, adaptive cruise). My test vehicle had neither.

For a long time now I have been a sucker for Audi styling and this car is no exception. It looks great with the top up or down from virtually any angle. The recessed tri-split five-spoke wheels look mean, purposeful and attractive. Audi was one of the pioneers of LED daytime running lights and the S5’s LED pattern within the headlight is still one of the best designs, and reminds me of the old saying “often imitated, never duplicated”.

Audis are usually regarded as ‘sure-footed’ thanks to their all-wheel drive system and the 2013 S5 takes things a step further. My tester came equipped with optional Drive Select w/ Sport Differential package ($4,000). For anyone considering an S5, this package is a must as it offers not only the torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, but also adjustable throttle, steering, transmission, and damper responses. This leads to immense grip regardless of the road conditions. Wet or dry, engage the sport differential to ‘dynamic’ mode and the Audi just hooks up around corners. Full throttle left or right turns produce little drama. Even in the pouring rain all I could coax out of the Audi was a minor, momentary powerslide that was so smooth and linear that I felt like the Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis commercials: “I don’t always powerslide my Audi; but when I do, it’s flawless.”

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