After introducing the hot RS5 coupe in Europe back in 2010, Audi made us wait two years before sending the spicy ride our way, coinciding with a mid-cycle refresh for 2013. The wait was worth it, as we found after driving the RS5 last month, and now the company has revealed a new topless variant called, unsurprisingly, the RS5 cabriolet. Better still, there is a bit of good news on the home front: Audi will be sending the new RS5 convertible our way next year as a 2013 model, around the same time it goes on sale in Europe. That’s a much shorter wait time than we were subjected to for the RS5 coupe, and we like short wait times.
The RS5 cabriolet is hardly a shock—we first learned of Audi’s plans for such a model in a series of patent images the company filed last year, as well as in recent CARB filings—but the car’s near-simultaneous availability in the U.S. is a pleasant surprise. Also not shocking is the cabriolet’s spec sheet—predictably, it essentially mirrors that of the coupe—but that’s not to say the RS5 cabriolet won’t be one hot steer. For starters, the RS5 cab is achingly good-looking; like the coupe, the droptop nicely melds the A5’s handsome looks with menacing touches befitting its RS badge. The key difference, of course, is that the RS5 cabrio substitutes the coupe’s metal roof for a retractable cloth unit.
As is the case with nearly any high-performance coupe that goes under the knife and emerges sans roof, we suspect at least some of the RS5’s hard-edged reflexes may be dulled. That said, any minute losses in performance or chassis rigidity are likely to be outweighed by the convertible’s enhanced aural access to the 450-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 engine’s sonorous soundtrack. Yes, folks, the cabrio is powered by the same high-revving, naturally aspirated V-8 as found in the coupe—and it also will be available with that car’s optional sports exhaust. Lift the RS5 cabriolet’s hood, and you will be greeted by the same glorious engine bay as is in the coupe, down to the red-painted cylinder-head covers and carbon-fiber intake manifold.
The cabrio utilizes the same seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic and variable all-wheel-drive setup as the coupe. The standard front–rear torque split is 40:60, but the center differential can send up to 70 percent of the engine’s power to the front wheels or up to 85 percent to the rears. Audi is making the coupe’s optional torque-vectoring rear differential available on the cabriolet, too. Braking duties are handled by “wave”-edged brake rotors borrowed from the coupe, which up front are squeezed by eight-piston calipers. Finally, the RS5 cabrio’s suspension is stiffer and 0.79-inch lower than the regular A5 cabriolet (Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control adaptive damper setup is available, too) and rides on forged aluminum 19-inch wheels; 20-inch rims are available, too.
Thanks to: Car and Driver