450 horsepower sounds glorious | I have yet to experience many moments in my life that feel better.
Last year, I drove the 2013 Audi RS5 Coupé and loved it. Evidently, so did our readers, because the story for that car remains one of our top stories of the year to this day. While the hardtop version of the car is significantly more put together for closed-course experiences, I couldn’t help but yearn for open-top motoring in the beautiful summer weather we’ve been having lately. Audi gladly obliged, and handed me the keys to a 2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet for a few days to see what I thought.
The RS5 shares its 4.2L naturally-aspirated V8 with Audi’s flagship super car, the R8. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the 2014 R8 and have fallen for this engine pretty hard. The engine note is awesome, the power delivery is buttery-smooth, and the S-tronic double-clutch gearbox is unbeatable. The RS5’s 450 horsepower pulls it right to the 8,500rpm redline, and there’s never an abundance of power either. If the Audi Drive Select is set to “Dynamic”, the transmission blips loudly during upshifts and downshifts.
In this application, the 4.2L V8 puts out 450 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. Of course, some forced-induction would make the RS5 even more of a beast, but doing that might take away from the refinement that makes this car so perfect. Handling is just as sublime as straight-line power, making the RS5 Cabriolet more and more livable. Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system means that even though this Cabriolet has a soft-top, it’s actually usable year-round with a solid set of winter tires on the 20″ wheels (note: these will not be cheap, but are highly recommended for maximum performance and safety in winter conditions).
Audi interiors are typically very similar right across the lineup, from the new entry-level A3 right into the SUV range. In the case of the RS5 Cabriolet, everything is performance-oriented. The steering wheel is flat-bottomed with grooves for your hands, and the pedals have a metallic finish (including the huge dead-pedal). The top of the shifter has an “RS” badge so you don’t forget that you’ve bought the crème de la crème of Audi performance. Audi Drive Select is on board and allows you to toggle between “Dynamic”, “Comfort”, and “Normal” for variables such as suspension, engine sound, and engine/transmission behaviour.
In terms of everyday comfort, the RS5 Cabriolet is pretty livable. At just over 6′ tall, I found the interior with the convertible top in place a bit claustrophobic. Then again, I wouldn’t be daily-driving a convertible anyhow. Those who choose to (and this car is perfectly suited to the task) may want to test-fit before buying. I would predict that the ideal height for this car is between 5’7 and 5’10. With the top down though, I had no issues. The seats are very comfortable and can be had with ventilation. My tester was equipped with the Bang & Olufsen sound system, and it’s just as good here as in every other Audi model. A pleasant surprise is the $1,000 option price – surprisingly affordable.
The LED daytime-running-lights that have become an Audi signature item are particularly sharp here. RS5s also have a few other toys that one would appreciate; for instance, the convertible top mechanism can be operated at speeds up to 50 km/h as well. This is something that’s definitely taken for granted; I know I took it for granted until we did a long-term test of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. In that car, the car must be completely stopped and the parking brake engaged before the top mechanism will even think about operating.
When driving an RS car (especially the twin-turbo fire-breathing 2014 RS7), fuel economy is all but forgotten about. It’s almost unbelievable how quickly the fuel gauge drops, but with that drop and added cost comes hours of driving enjoyment and overall pleasure. I will say that I wish the fuel gauge itself was a bit larger; it’s roughly an inch in height and it’s hard to decipher the difference between reserve and 1/4 full. On the highway, I was able to get the RS5 Cabriolet down to 10.8L/100km, and I was okay with this. Combined economy for my test week was approaching 14.5L/100km.
The Audi RS5 Cabriolet is the most powerful convertible I’ve tested so far this summer. It isn’t the magical monster that the RS7 is, but it provides an open-top motoring experience like no other. Seriously, I have yet to experience many moments in my life that feel better than the sound of that screaming sport exhaust on a country road with nothing but blue skies above me. The RS5 Cabriolet’s as-tested price of nearly $95,000 seems like a bargain when you factor in the fun-for-your-dollar ratio.
2014 Audi RS5 Cabriolet