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2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet Preview

2010 Audi A5 and S5 Cabriolet Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2009

Critical Knowledge:
  • All-new model for 2010
  • Styled similar to the A5/S5 Coupe
  • Strengthened chassis
  • Larger and more up-market than the outgoing model
  • Automatic cloth top
  • Standard 2.0-liter turbo engine
  • Optional 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine
  • S5 model with new supercharged V-6 engine
  • Debuts in Europe in March; available in the U.S. in fall of 2009
Introduction
The first Audi convertible arrived in the mid-1990s, based on the Audi 90 platform and called the Cabriolet. While Audi offered this model with multiple engine choices overseas, the U.S. market received a standard V-6 powerplant mated to a front-wheel-drive powertrain and the 90-based Cabriolet was produced through the 1998 model year. Although Audi introduced the A4 to Americans in 1996, the next-generation A4-based Cabriolet didn't arrive until 2003. In 2004, Audi introduced the race-inspired S4 Quattro Cabriolet. With a 4.2-liter V-8 engine and quattro all-wheel drive (AWD), it was Audi's highest-performing convertible to date. While Audi's late model 4-seat convertibles have worn familiar A4/S4 Cabriolet badges, the automaker has chosen to move the drop-top up a notch for 2010 and align it with the sporty, and more expensive, A5/S5 Coupe models. As a result, the new convertibles will wear A5/S5 Cabriolet badges-and the A4 lineup is limited once again to just sedan and wagon. Audi's newest convertible is set to debut in Geneva in March, and go on sale in North America in October of 2009.

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Model Lineup
There are two models available. The A5 Cabriolet is the standard model with a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder power and front-wheel drive. Enthusiasts will likely prefer the powerful S5 model, however, which features a supercharged V-6 engine, and a host of other performance-oriented parts. Differentiating itself from the standard A5 Cabriolet, the S5 Cabriolet is equipped with upgraded suspension, larger brakes, sport seats, and slightly more aggressive body cladding.

Design
While most of the competition has made the change to folding hardtop roof systems on their convertibles, the new Audi A5/S5 arrives with a traditional fabric roof and a heated rear glass window. The all-electric roof has triple insulation to keep out the elements and noise. An optional "acoustic" roof adds a thicker layer of foam to decrease the cabin noise to levels equivalent to the A5/S5 Coupe, according to Audi. The folding roof will reportedly open in 15 seconds and close in 17 seconds, adds the automaker. It may be operated remotely with the key fob, and at speeds of up to 31 mph. When folded (it collapses directly behind the rear seats), there is still 13.4 cubic feet of trunk space-enough for several pieces of luggage, Audi says.


Hardware
The 2010 Audi A5 Cabriolet arrives with a choice of two engines. The standard engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder rated at 211 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It is offered with either front- or Audi's Quattro permanent four-wheel-drive system. A larger, 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine is also available on the A5 Cabriolet. It is rated at 265 hp and 243 lb.-ft. of torque and is only offered with the quattro drivetrain. The performance-oriented S5 Cabriolet is fitted with Audi's new supercharged, 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine. The engine is rated at 333 hp and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. Power is routed through a new 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the standard quattro drivetrain. Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system apportions power in a 40:60 front/rear split to mimic the driving feel of a rear-wheel-drive vehicle. An option on the S5 Cabriolet is a new torque-vectoring system called the "Quattro sport rear differential."

The chassis under the Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet is newly developed. Some of its benefits include better weight distribution (thanks to the differential now mounted in front of the torque converter), and more aluminum components in the suspension for lessened weight. The front suspension is of a 5-link design, the rear is a multi-link setup.


Safety
Like its A5/S5 Coupe sibling, the Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet arrives with a long list of standard safety equipment. This includes dual front air bags, front driver and passenger side air bags, and door-mounted air bags. In the event of an impending rollover, dual spring-loaded aluminum roll bars extend from behind the rear seats to lessen the likelihood of injuries. The chassis has been specially reinforced, and the windshield frame strengthened. According to Audi, the new A5/S5 Cabriolet is much stiffer than the outgoing A4/S4 Cabriolet model.

Technology
Audi is offering an innovative new rear differential on the 2010 S5 Cabriolet. It is dubbed the "Quattro sport rear differential." Unlike a traditional open rear differential that sends all of the torque to just one wheel, or a limited-slip differential that attempts to mechanically split the torque evenly, Audi's system logically distributes engine torque independently to each rear wheel based on input from sophisticated electronics. Sensors identify when traction has been lost by constantly measuring acceleration, yaw angle, and speed. In less than 100 milliseconds, power is sent to the wheel with grip. In the standard setting, 60 percent of the engine's torque is sent to the rear wheels. The new quattro sport rear differential distributes that torque according to available traction and the driver's cockpit-selected setting (comfort, auto or dynamic). Audi points out that its unique differential not only improves grip, but it has nearly eliminated the tendency of its AWD cars to exhibit understeer in corners.

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