The Audi RS5 Cabriolet is one of the most calming cars I’ve ever driven. No matter how pissed off you may be, or how stressful your work day was, this car has the magical ability to just level you out.
Engine: 4.2L V8, 450 hp, 317 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 7-speed DCT
Fuel economy: 16 MPG city, 22 MPG highway
Price: US$79,200 base/CAD$104,040 as-tested
You know that feeling of relief you get when you finally lie down in bed after a really long day? The sheets feel more crisp, the bed feels softer, and you sink in to your spot just a little bit more, and your body relaxes and all the tension that built up throughout the day melts away. Everything feels familiar, comforting and just right. You settle in and you feel at peace.
The Audi RS5 gives you that same feeling of tranquility. From the moment you open the door and sit in the driver’s seat, you’re comfortable, confident in the fact that the Audi’s got your back.
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Germany Makes Good Robots
The RS5 is so stress free because the way it drives is perfectly predictable and logical, which makes it an entirely easy car to drive. The convertible, in its very German way, will impress you by how unshakable and accurate it feels and how confidently it goes about its business, not necessarily by exhibiting a profound sense of intimacy or a tickly effervescence that ignites some primal instinct in your nervous system. It will never thrill or engage you in the same way something British or Italian will, and it doesn’t showcase same sense of raw urgency.
Like many German cars, the RS5 lives up to the stereotype of being a bit too sanitized and detached. This is not a reflection of aptitude, however, because if anyone can truly believe this car isn’t capable of very serious performance, I will take off one of the car’s fat rear tires and eat it for dinner.
The RS5 is the epitome of capable. Flooring the throttle, you feel an immediate turn of speed and no hesitation. The 4.2L V8 with 450 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque is one of the smoothest engines around and delivers power linearly and effortlessly. Equipped with a smooth-shifting seven-speed dual clutch transmission and quattro all-wheel-drive, the system splits the power 40/60 front to rear to give the car a more rear-wheel feel under normal driving conditions. The system can send as much as 70 percent of the power to the front and 85 percent to the rear if needed.
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Whereas something like a Dodge Challenger with a Hemi V8 claws its way forward, screaming into the air under the stress, gasping for air and struggling to find more grip, the RS5 just glides and floats its way nonchalantly to speeds that will surely get the attention of your local constabulary. With your foot to the floor, the V8 feels like it will never stop pulling, and on regular roads, there is no way you will ever be able to exploit the RS5 for everything it has to offer. Get a membership to your local track if you don’t fancy being arrested, because it’s really the only legal way to really appreciate each one of the convertible’s 450 horsepower. It peaks at the high 8,250 rpm redline, which means you’ll run out of road long before you’ll even begin to get near the RS5’s true potential.
Thrown into a corner, the RS5 is remarkably composed and difficult to upset. Turn-in is strong and steering is accurate and perfectly weighted. The only thing I’d wish for is more feedback; the RS5 feels too heavy, floaty and isolated. But the RS5 has everything figured out and makes you feel like a better driver than you actually are. It is confident enough so you don’t have to be, and it takes care of business so you can just sit back and relax. In Auto and Comfort mode, the car is remarkably tame and quiet. You could steer it with a finger.
In Dynamic driving mode, the Audi gets a bit more hot-blooded, but a German hot-blooded is still cool and collected, unlike the Italian version, which is all hysterical and hands waving everywhere. In this beast mode, the suspension gets stiffer, and high rpm upshifts are rewarded by a loud bark from the exhaust, while downshifts are sounded off by a beefy grunt. Everything is sharper and more responsive in this mode, if still lacking that visceral man/machine connection so many enthusiasts crave. You will get more feel-good performance vibes and feedback in a BMW M4 or a Mercedes C63 AMG.
I like my sports cars to be more engaging and have more of a mean streak, but I’m willing to forgive the RS5 because it is just so damn proficient.
Typical Audi Interior
Inside, it’s everything you’d expect from an Audi. They make some of the classiest and most comfortable interiors around and this RS5 doesn’t disappoint. Fit and finish is top notch, the dashboard’s layout is logical, the cabin is quiet (even with the top down, you can still have a conversation on the highway), and all the materials used feel substantial and luxurious. A comfortable driving position is easy to find, and sightlines are good.
The convertible soft top takes just 17 seconds to retract, and can be done so at speeds under 31 mph.
The scroll wheel-operated MMI infotainment system still isn’t the easiest to operate, and there are much more intuitive and user-friendly systems out there. MMI requires a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes very useful.
A few years into the RS5’s lifespan, it is obvious that the car has aged because it doesn’t come with as much technology or as many features as you would expect in a car that costs this much. It lags behind its competitors in this area.
Yes, all that money might as well be funneled into the monster V8 engine. It makes the cost of the car almost worth it, but people shopping this segment have come to expect more features. When spending six figures on a luxury sports car, people want things like adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, a heated steering wheel, ventilated seats, and collision mitigation. This Audi has none of that.
Luckily, the RS5 is due for a redesign and update soon that will give the coupe a sharper new look and a raft of technology like a digital gauge cluster and other driver assistance tech that has made it into some of Audi’s newer models.
The Verdict: 2015 Audi RS5 Cabriolet Review
The elegant RS5 has always been on my lottery list of cars. I love its unsuspecting, yet muscular design, the sharp LED lights, the comfortable interior and the blacked out mesh grille. What always impresses me most, though, is just how confident and capable it is. Sure, for six figures, you should expect to have a longer list of features, but the smooth V8 and the unshakable driving dynamics makes the price worth it, because you really can’t put a price on stress relief.
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