2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet
2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet
2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet (top); S5 Cabriolet (bottom). Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2010 Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet

Monte Carlo, Monaco – Spring is just around the corner. It’s the south of France. This must be a convertible launch…

In its bid to become the world’s largest maker of premium automobiles, Audi has shown the motoring press the latest arrows in its burgeoning quiver: the four-seat 2010 A5 and hotter S5 Cabriolet.

Arriving in Canada in the late summer of 2009, both with Quattro all-wheel drive, these models will fill the void created by the departing, previous-generation A4 drop-top. No Canadian pricing has been set, but rest assured, Audi wants to lure buyers away from the BMW 328i Cabriolet ($55,600) and the 335i Cabriolet ($65,600).

The A5 Coupe, on which this convertible is based, was a breakout car for Audi in 2008. It wasn’t just its lovely proportions, but also because it was the first mainstream Audi to feature the now-signature LED headlight “mascara,” and a revised platform with the front wheels pushed forward and a repositioned differential for better weight distribution.

Audi is using a three-layer fabric top for this cabrio, unlike BMW and Mercedes, which embrace folding tin-top hardware, save for the 1 Series’ soft roof. While retractable hardtops generally provide better isolation when fixed, soft tops offer the benefits of reduced complexity, weight and volume, allowing for more trunk space and avoiding the sometimes awkward rear proportioning necessary to pack away all that metal — Ferrari California and VW Eos, please stand up.

2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet
2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet
Convertible top down (top); top up (bottom). Click image to enlarge

Awkward proportioning is something of which you could never accuse the A5 Coupe, so it’s a relief to see this cabrio version suffers little in that regard. With the top up, it still carries much of the coupe’s chiseled good looks. With the roof tucked under the tonneau cover (15 seconds down, 17 seconds up, operates at speeds up to 50 km/h) this cabriolet cuts quite a graceful profile. The brushed aluminum trim ringing the cabin is a lovely detail.

The folded top takes up only 60 litres of the generous 380-litre trunk, and the rear seat splits and folds, offering up to 750 litres of storage volume.

As pretty as the A5 Cabriolet is, it went largely unnoticed in this Mediterranean principality, where Rolls’, Astons, Ferraris and Lambos roam the streets in surprising numbers. And these exotics are mere rolling trinkets compared to the yachts in the harbour.

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