RS 5 alive

27 June 2013 - 03:15 By THOMAS FALKINER

Looking to ruffle your hair in style this winter? Then the new Audi RS 5 Cabriolet is the car for you. Riffing off the beautiful Coupé version that launched here in 2010, the Cabriolet ditches the metal roof in favour of a fabric soft top that stows neatly behind the rear seats in just 15 seconds.

Capable of closing in 17-seconds and at speeds of up to 50km/h, this adds a new dimension to the RS 5 driving experience.

Put your foot flat and you can now hear every amplified nuance of that brilliant, naturally aspirated V8 FSI engine shared by the RS 4 Avant.

Yeah, it's intoxicating stuff and a worthy swansong for a motor that has thrilled us all for so many years.

Downsides? Well as can be expected, the Cabriolet gains some weight thanks to extra chassis bracing: hydroformed struts and tubes bolted strategically to the subframe to reduce flex and scuttle shake.

How does it look?

Apart from that lightweight three-layer fabric top, pretty much identical to its tin-topped brother. This means you get the same one-piece honeycomb radiator grille, a pair of menacing Xenon Plus headlamps, as well as two enormous exhaust tailpipes sat on either side of the rear air diffuser.

Riding atop aggressive 19-inch alloy wheels, the only features wholly exclusive to the Cabriolet include a fixed carbon-fibre boot spoiler plus a windscreen framed in anodized aluminium.

On the inside you get one of the best-built cockpits in the business; one that combines nuke-proof build quality with a surprisingly high list of standard kit.

Indeed, strap yourself into the heat-resistant sports driving seat and you will notice nice-to-haves like MMI Navigation Plus; park distance control; carbon fibre dashboard inlays and a flat-bottomed, multi-function RS steering wheel.

Topping things off in fine style is Audi Drive Select: the firm's legendary electronic control unit that allows you to magically tune and adjust the mapping of the Cabriolet's engine, transmission, steering, suspension and sport differential to suit any driving conditions.

What's it like to drive?

On launch I only got to sample (and briefly I might add) the new RS 5 Cabriolet around the recently built Dezzi Raceway facility located in Port Shepstone.

So how did it fare?

Well although super- quick in a straight-line thanks to that free-revving motor and sniper-fast S-Tronic gearbox, through the twisty parts of the circuit it didn't come across as all that inspiring - something I'm putting down to the extra weight and reduced structural rigidity.

This lack of dynamic sparkle was further exacerbated by a rather artificial feeling steering system and, no matter how hard I caned it, a Quattro-equipped chassis that wanted to do nothing but understeer when pushing the limits.

Suffice to say that, as track cars go, the RS 5 Cabriolet isn't the sharpest tool in the Audi shed.

But then, considering the type of people who actually buy these machines and the purpose for which they're bought, none of the above really matters much.

Now unfortunately I didn't have a chance to drive this RS-badged newcomer on normal roads, so I can't report on things like ride comfort or refinement.

So I'll reserve any further judgment until I get it on test.

Any special features?

Yes. For a price you can choose to increase the limited top speed of your RS 5 Cabriolet from 250km/h to a thoroughly jail-baiting 280km/h. Nice.

Should you buy one?

Yes. If you're shopping for a boulevard cruiser that marries understated looks with ridiculous amounts of straight line shove and unshakable Quattro grip, then the new Audi RS 5 Cabriolet will definitely suit all your topless motoring needs.

Although, if you want something a little less two-dimensional and ultimately more rewarding to drive, I'd suggest garaging the slightly dearer BMW M3 Convertible.

The choice is yours.

The Specs:

Audi RS 5 Cabriolet

Engine: 4163cc V8

Power: 331kW at 8250rpm

Torque: 430Nm from 4000 to 6000rpm

0-100km/h: 4.9-seconds (claimed)

Top speed: 250km/h (limited)

Fuel Consumption: 10.7l/100km (claimed combined)

CO2: 249g/km (claimed)

Price: From R986 000

We Like:

Drop-top brings you closer to that V8 engine

A stylish and elegant package

Extremely quick in a straight line

We Don’t:

Not the most dynamic RS you’ll ever drive

Steering feels too artificial

We’re yet to drive one on normal roads