2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (Photo: Richard Russell, MSN Autos)

Monte Carlo, Monaco – The new 2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet will not arrive in Canada in time for summer – but it would make a heck of a Thanksgiving or Christmas present.

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (Photo: Richard Russell, MSN Autos)

Actually, thanks to several touches like heated seats, a stream of heated air for your head and neck and a very effective wind blocker, these convertibles could be driven well into the unpleasant season. Then over the winter months you'd have the opportunity to experience the plentiful benefits of this newcomer before submitting to the charms of its top-down role.

The new A5 Cabriolet and its hot-blooded S5 sibling are a significant step forward for the folks from Ingolstadt. The replacement for the outgoing A4 Cabriolet benefits from the new MLP platform developed for the A5 and S5 Coupe, which are also used in the new A4 Sedan and Avant. The additional strength and rigidity are well suited to a convertible and the new A5/S5 seems all but immune to chassis shake over nasty surfaces, a tough trick to master for a car that's had its top cut off.

Gallery: 2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet

Exacting standards, gorgeous styling

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (Photo: Richard Russell, MSN Autos)

When it comes to attention to detail, Audi is a master. It's the simple things that catch your eye, such as the windshield header. When the top is down the exposed surface atop is seamless aluminum. It's common to find rough edges with multiple seam lines and blends of plastic and metal in other drop tops, but you won't find any in the A5/S5.

In typical Audi fashion this type of detail work is evident throughout the rest of the car. The new body features the signature big-mouth Audi grill flanked by LED daytime running lights that immediately identify this as an Audi from a kilometre away.

The insistence on using a cloth instead of a folding hardtop meant the design team was able to maintain the sleek horizontal character line of the A5 body instead of a raised rear deck lid to accommodate the folded metal and associated hardware. Audi is also proud that this allowed it to avoid wide shut lines where body panels meet around the rear.

Spacious … for a drop top

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (Photo: Richard Russell, MSN Autos)

The new A5 not only has ultra clean lines with the top stowed, it has a whole lot of space for cargo whether it's suitcases or golf clubs. Cargo capacity is listed at 320 litres with the roof folded, and 380L with it in place. With the 50/50 split folding rear seats flat, objects up to 1.76 metres in length or 750 L worth of cargo can be carried on board.

Audi is known for its industry-leading interiors and this new convertible stays true to its tradition. Everything from the design to fit, finish and the material quality is world class. There are a couple of new touches that customers are sure to appreciate. Unlike some of its rivals, the A5/S5's top can be lowered in 15 seconds, at speeds of up to 50 km/h. The A5's seats are also treated with a UV-reflecting dye which reduces heat gain when exposed to the sun by up to 20°C.

As with the A4 Cabriolet, the A5 remains a four-seater. Adults will fit in the sculpted rear buckets if they're compact and if the front seat occupants are willing to give up some leg room. Just like the old days when automatic seatbelts were mandatory, little electric motors present the belts to the driver and front-seat passenger when the ignition is turned on, making it unnecessary to reach for them. In models equipped with leather seats, a three level fan blows heated air unto the back of your neck and head when the elements might not otherwise warrant topless motoring.

A four and two sixes, but no eight

2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet (Photo: Richard Russell, MSN Autos)

The A5 will come with Audi's 265-hp, 243 lb.-ft of torque 3.2-litre V6, Quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission when it arrives this fall. The 3.2 is smooth and very quiet in action with a strong consistent power delivery. Also on the way is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 211 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque. It will be available with front-wheel drive paired to a CVT transmission or with Quattro and a six-speed automatic transmission.

The top dog in this family is the S5 which boasts Audi's new supercharged 3.0L V6. Thanks to direct injection and a pair of intercoolers, it produces 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine is also mated with the excellent seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic which can be readily controlled by paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The engine has "right now" power delivery, delivering a jolt of acceleration the moment your foot touches the pedal. As silky smooth and potent as this engine is, its sound is not as rewarding as a tuned V8.

But then there's that whole thing about fuel economy and the environment to consider. The S5 is significantly more fuel efficient than the S4 it replaces. In addition, the six-cylinder engine reduces the weight over the front end, resulting in better balanced handling. This makes a pretty good case for the six.

Open air, enhanced by technology

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet (Photo: Audi)

Ride quality remains pleasant under all but the worst surfaces but not at the cost of handling. Much of the credit for its alacrity in the twisties goes to artful spring and shock tuning and the Quattro system's ability to divert power between the front and rear axles.

But two new optional features come in for praise as well. A torque vectoring sport differential, standard on the S5 Cabriolet is capable of sending additional power to the outside rear wheel when cornering to reduce understeer. This means that all four wheels play an active part in keeping the car on the straight and narrow.

In addition, the A5 and S5 Cabriolet gain Audi Drive Select, which modifies the steering ratio, the firmness of the suspension, the response of the throttle and shift points in the automatic transmission to one of three different customizable settings, selected by the driver.

Audi has covered all the bases with this one - the new A5 Cabriolet is a high quality, refined topless ride for those who just want to enjoy top-down motoring, and the spicier S5 version for those who enjoy doing so with more gusto.

- Specifications and features of the 2010 A5 and S5 Cabriolet have yet to be finalized and are subject to change.

2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet

Price base: $TBA

Type of vehicle: FWD or AWD convertible

Engine: 2.0L, 16-valve DOHC I-4 turbo / 3.2L, 24-valve DOHC V6

Power/torque: 211 hp/258 lb.-ft. / 265 hp/243 lb.-ft.

Transmission: CVT with 2.0T FrontTrak, six-speed auto with 2.0T Quattro and 3.2 Quattro

0-100 km/h: TBA

Fuel consumption (city/hwy.): TBA

Competitors: BMW 3 Series Convertible, Mercedes-Benz CLK350 Cabriolet, Infiniti G37 Convertible, Lexus IS C, Volvo C70

2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet

Price base: $TBA

Type of vehicle: AWD convertible

Engine: 3.0L, 24-valve DOHC V6 supercharged

Power/torque: 333 hp/325 lb.-ft.

Transmission: Seven-speed twin-clutch automatic

0-100 km/h: TBA

Fuel consumption (city/hwy.): TBA

Competitors: BMW M3 Convertible, Mercedes-Benz CLK550 Cabriolet, Lexus SC 430

REVIEW SUMMARY

PROS
- Simply gorgeous inside and out
- Composed in all conditions
- Good luggage space

CONS
- S5's V6 not as aurally satisfying as outgoing S4's V8
- Cloth top not as good as hard for Canadian winters
- Navigation system slow to respond


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