2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

Honestly, can you think of a better way to close out the season than an invigorating al fresco drive through the countryside?

Although fall is well on its way out and winter has begun to leave its first frosty warnings on my early morning windshield, we’re occasionally blessed with a day such as this.

Gentle sun warms my shoulders but the cold wind whistles through my hair and leaves my cheeks pink and tingling.

It’s well past convertible weather but I can’t resist a final chance to drop the top on Audi’s RS5 Cabriolet, and savour the fresh air and unfiltered sound of the exquisite exhaust note.

It’s also a much prettier car with the lid tucked away. I’ve always maintained that most soft-top convertibles look rather like a black-tie ensemble finished off with a pair of sneakers. Aesthetically – a coupe or retractable hardtop manages to pull off a polished look better, without interrupting the line flowing up and over the top of the car.

And my time spent in Audi’s RS5 and S5 also suggest that from a pure performance standpoint – the more rigid, and therefore better-handling coupe is the enthusiast’s choice.

But a drop-top sports car appeals to a select demographic – one that values being noticed above all else.

And with bright, pearl red paint, and black honeycomb maw framed by gaping air inlets, silver-trimmed chin spoiler and rear diffuser – the RS5 cabriolet will definitely get you the attention you crave.

I’ve often said I’d know the interior of an Audi blindfolded, and the RS5 Cabriolet is no exception. Not as overtly luxurious as upmarket A8, the cabin of the RS5 Cab, while understated, still contains the level of craftsmanship that’s made Audi the industry’s benchmark.

The upholstery gives off the heady scent of premium leather, and what isn’t hide-wrapped is finished in soft-touch material with precise panel gaps.

2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

One thing that Audi gets just right, even in the simplistic cockpits of their sports cars, is switchgear. Even the humblest knob feels well-engineered, like fine cabinetry whose components glide soundlessly on well-oiled bearings.

The flat-bottomed steering wheel is fat and grippy and perfectly contoured to encourage correct hand position. Touches of aluminum on the pedals, outlining the gauges, vents and centre console brighten up what might otherwise be a rather sombre design scheme. Carbon fibre dresses up the centre console, which also features more aluminum brightwork.

Particularly nice is the leather-wrapped shifter finished in machined aluminum – there’s no rule that says an automatic transmission deserves an ugly shift lever.

2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet. Click image to enlarge

Seating up front is comfortable, supportive and provides plenty of legroom. There was ample space for a friend and I to take her two strapping teenage boys out for dinner, top down, but they felt the squeeze in the back seats on the return trip when the evening’s chill necessitated putting the top back up. Which, by the way, takes about 15 seconds and the push of a button.

Although I’ve said that I find the smooth roofline of a coupe more appealing, the RS5 Cab’s cloth top is beautifully finished and well-insulated – the interior is as quiet as that of any hardtop.

Under the RS5 Cab’s curved hood is a naturally aspirated, 4.2L V8, which aside from the R8 supercar, makes it the last of Audi’s naturally aspirated V8-powered sports cars.

It’s an absolutely beautiful power plant, that grunts and burbles softly in Comfort Mode like a well-bred luxury mill should. The RS5 Cab’s big V8 has 450 horsepower, but with a redline of 8,500 – it purrs like silk until you really get on the gas and push it.

Using the Audi Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system to switch over to “Dynamic Mode” firms up the steering, and notches the revs up, making the engine come alive. Adding to the thrill are husky barks and pops emanating from the tail pipes with every abrupt downshift.

Really, if you’re going to buy this car, might as well go whole hog and spring for the $1,500 optional Sport Exhaust with oval tips tucked under the diffuser panel. The aural sensory overload is worth the extra outlay.

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