2018 Audi RS5 Cabriolet

2018 audi rs5 cabriolet – DOC680001

Back in 2007, Audi made its return to the high-end compact coupe segment with the A5, offering a hardtop, cabriolet, and four-door “Sportback” bodystyle. Bearing many similarities to the A4 sedan, the A5 stood apart thanks to its significantly sportier feel, making it a prime candidate for a go-faster S5 variant. But as Audi’s chief rivals upped the ante with ever-increasing performance levels, the Four Ring brand was compelled to create the top dog RS5. Boasting more aggressive styling, snappier suspension, and of course, more power, the RS5 had all the trimmings to meet its AMG and M division challengers. Initially offered as a coupe, the RS5 went topless in 2012 following a mid-cycle facelift, hitting U.S. dealers in April of 2013. Unfortunately, production ended in 2015, but now, a next-gen RS5 Cabriolet looks like it’s just over the horizon. Official details are still forthcoming, but we’re expecting a massaged exterior, new interior tech, and a turbo V-6.

While nothing at this point is official, the new RS5 Cabriolet is expected to drop cover after a reveal of the next-gen RS5 Coupe, which was recently spotted testing following the debut of the new A5 and S5.

Audi aficionados with a penchant for adrenaline-boosted open-air motoring have no doubt been clamoring to catch a glimpse of the new model, but without anything official to go on, we drew up a rendering, did a little digging, and came up with the following speculative review. Read on for the details.

Exterior

Like the new A5 and S5 (and the rest of the Audi lineup, for that matter), the new RS5 Cabriolet will draw significant inspiration from the Prologue concept that debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2014. The stance is low and wide, emphasized by highly angular headlights that cut into the front end in a scowling expression. Prominent hoodlines lead the eye rearwards with a swept-back look, and LEDs are used for the primary lighting element, not to mention the daytime running lights and taillights.

Look closely, however, and you’ll see numerous RS-specific styling cues, starting with a unique front grille

In profile, the RS5 Cabriolet shares its lesser brethren’s shoulder line, which gently rounds above the wheel wells to enhance their flared appearance. The lower character line is raked to give it a forward-leaning look. A polished aluminum surround is used for the windows, while a black fabric top is used in the absence of blue skies.

Look closely, however, and you’ll see numerous RS-specific styling cues, starting with a unique front grille. This large, “Singleframe” piece gains an aluminum-look surround similar to the windows, and it uses a glossy-black honeycomb mesh insert that’s studded with the Audi rings and RS5 badging. The “quattro” logo also makes its appearance, outlined in white. To the corners, we find more RS-specific gear for the bumper, where large side intakes bookend a lower splitter element.

There are also multi-spoke 19-inch wheels that come wrapped in low-profile tires, while the rear gets dual oval exhaust tips and a lip spoiler. Like the new A5, the new body should create less drag at speed, upping efficiency, although the Cabriolet model will mostly focus on underbody improvements and won’t see as much of an increase in slipperiness as the hardtop.

Overall, I think it looks pretty good, in an Audi-ish kind of way. It’s simple and somewhat understated next to similar offerings from BMW and Mercedes, and fans will surely appreciate the subtle enhancements over Audi’s non-RS’d equivalent.

Interior

Audi S5

In terms of look and layout, the cabin of the new RS5 Cabriolet should mimic that of the new A5 and A4. There will be a long horizontal air vent that connects the driver and passenger sides, and the center console will offer a simplified design scheme with most of the infotainment controls migrated to a stand up touchscreen sitting high on the dash.

Seating capacity will be capped at four. The rear bench will offer more space than a traditional 2+2, but not a whole lot of comfort for a full-size adult. Meanwhile, cargo capacity should be decent for a two-door cabriolet model.

Per usual, material fit and finish should be of the highest quality. High-grade leather and Alcantara will be used for upholstery, with dark hues punctuated by strips of sporty-looking color. Carbon fiber trim bits will join the usual assemblage of wood and aluminum. Drivers will grip a flat-bottom steering wheel set with numerous controls for the various drive systems and infotainment, while the seats will be highly bolstered for more support during hard cornering. The seats should also come with a heating and cooling function, plus the option for neck heaters.

As for equipment, expect Audi’s Virtual cockpit display for the gauge cluster, plus the latest iteration the brand’s MMI system for infotainment. There should also be support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, a wireless phone charger, multiple USB ports, and a stereo from Bang & Olufsen. Like the exterior, LEDs will be used for lighting.

Finally, customers should expect all the usual active safety systems, such as adaptive cruise control (with traffic jam assist), automatic braking, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert.

Drivetrain

As in the previous model, the new RS5 Cabriolet will employ a front-engine, AWD drivetrain layout. However, the powerplant used will be a clean break from what came before.

In its stead will be a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, producing upwards of 465 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque

Prior to its discontinuation last year, the RS5 Cab used a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8. While widely praised for its high-revving, ear-pleasing V-8-ness, it was a bit out of step with the rest of the eco-minded world, so Audi is replacing it.

In its stead will be a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, producing upwards of 465 horsepower and 345 pound-feet of torque. Both those figures beat the V-8 in terms of peak output, although enthusiasts will surely miss the eight-cylinder bark of the old powerplant.

Still, Audi will offer the option for a little extra noise, courtesy of an optional sports exhaust. Additionally, the 3.0-liter should post decent mpg, especially with standard Stop&Go.

As for acceleration, expect a run to 60 mph in around 4.7 seconds, with a top speed electronically limited at 155 mph.

Routing the power will be a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission feeding Audi’s permanent quattro AWD system. A manual gearbox could also be in the works, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the RS5 Cab was auto only.

Chassis And Handling

Audi S5

The new RS5 Cabriolet will be built on VAG’s MLB Evo platform, just like the new A5 and A4. Designed to save weight and increase structural rigidity, the RS5 Cabriolet will still be quite heavy and flexible, given the fact it’s basically an RS5 with the roof chopped off. Expect a curb weight around 4,000 pounds.

Still, Audi has plenty of tricks to alleviate the effects of all that mass. To begin, there will be speed-sensitive steering that offers more or less assistance depending on the car’s velocity. There will also be upgraded suspension, bigger brakes, and an electronic differential in the rear for better rotation. Launch control will help it get underway, while high-performance rubber will complement the AWD system when it comes to traction. More track-oriented goodies will be available via the options list (ceramic brake discs, etc.).

However, the Audi’s best trick will be its dual Jekyll and Hyde personality, the product of multiple driving modes selectable by the driver. Go for comfort, and everything will soften, with plush suspension settings, easier shifts, and a spongier throttle. Put it into sport, and the dampers harden, the transmission slams through the ratios, and an exhaust flap opens to let all those around you know you mean business.

Prices

The RS5 Coupe is expected to fetch around $75,000 when it comes stateside, which means the Cab should tack on additional ten grand for an MSRP starting at $85,000. And that’s before you start adding in extras – if you even glance at the options list, be prepared to fork over a figure somewhere near six digits.

We’re thinking we’ll see a debut next year in Paris, with deliveries hitting Europe first, and the U.S. following sometime thereafter.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

Mercedes has its own brand of two-door, top-down, high-grade motoring, but rather than following the industry trend towards downgraded displacement, Merc has traded up. Motivation in the new C63 Cab comes from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8, replacing the old 3.0-liter V-6. Output is rated at a very healthy 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. Even more speed can be had from the C63 S, which offers up an eye-widening 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

BMW M4 Convertible

BMW M4 Convertible

While both the Audi and Mercedes tout themselves as performance machines, the M4 is really where you want to turn when it comes to corner prowess. Making the go is a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, which sends 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque to the rear axle by way of a six-speed manual gearbox. A seven-speed automatic is optional. For true track potential, the M division offers a slew of additional speed-making equipment.

Conclusion

Audi RS5 Cabriolet

It’s usually best to sum up a model from one of the Big German Three by placing it amongst its competitors. In this case, the Merc is the powerhouse – an uber-output autobahn-burner packed to the brim with technology. The Bimmer is the enthusiast’s machine, ready to tackle the twisties with RWD prowess. Meanwhile, the new RS5 looks like the more civilized option, usable and comfortable for the everyday, and capable even in climates with less-than-ideal grip levels.

That’s not to say it isn’t fast. With a 0-to-60 mph time around four-and-a-half ticks, there’s still plenty of speed on hand, and with the right options installed, I’m sure it’ll hang with the other two in the bends.

But the Audi is understated. While the BMW and Mercedes announce their intentions with the subtlety of a profession wrestler, the RS5 hints at its capability. It’s less of a toy, and more of a car.

And for some people, that’s just about right.

LOVE IT

  • Looks great
  • Combines high-end luxury, open-air enjoyment, and a solid dose of adrenaline
  • Jekyll and Hyde personality

LEAVE IT

  • No more V-8 soundtrack
  • Still very expensive
  • Faster options available