Smooth turbo motor perfect match for sporty midsize

by: AUDI MOTOR CO. - The 2013 Audi A5 Cabriolet compete well against more expensive droptop cruisers.No cars are as ethereal as Audis. They feel so light yet precise, driving one is like floating down the road. The interiors are also so clean they border on sterile, which is why the convertible versions are such a surprise. With the well-insulated tops up, the cars are eerily quiet. Put them down and you wonder where all the world came from.

Our test A5 Cabriolet was no exception, especially with the turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four, which is the only engine choice. The power comes on so smoothly, it makes the rest of the car seem even more sophisticated. The eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission shifted so effortlessly it seemed to be a refined Continuously Variable Transmission. In fact, although Audi offers a CTV on the A5, it is not available on quattro all-wheel-drive models, which ours was.

The only other manufacturer that comes close to capturing the Audi feel is Infiniti. BMWs and Mercedes are also well-engineered, of course, but feel heavier on the road.

The exterior styling of the A5 reflects the driving experience. Except for the large trademark grill, the lines are subtle, as if it doesn't want to show off. The rear end rises slightly, with just the hint of an integrated spoiler. The top is cloth not metal, but it fits the rest of the car well and disappears completely when lowered electronically, which only takes a few seconds. Our test cat was white stark white with a black top, which showed off the lines well.

Because we tested the Audi A5 Cabriolet after the rains came, we were not able to drive around with the top down as much as we would have liked. When we did, the visibility was of course exceptional. With the top up, the view out the back was restrained like all cloth-top convertibles, but not to the point of being dangerous.

Although manufacturers usually provide reviewers with fully-loaded models, our test car did not have the optional navigation system and rear view camera. Instead, it came with a Convenience package that included an upgraded stereo with iPod interface and a Lighting package that included xenon plus headlights and LED daytime running lights. One drawback was the relatively lack of information on the dash mounted display screen. If you're listening to the radio, it tells you the station and song, but that's about it. Tech-savvy buyers will want more. And I guess we expect navigation to be standard and a rear view camera to be standard in a car that costs more than $48,000 these days.

Our only other complaint was the similarity between switch that operates electronic parking brake and the one that lowers and raises the top. We hit the one for the top a couple time when we meant to start the brake. Fortunately the sequence stops when it's released, which sparred us a couple of embarrassing soakings.

In a week of driving, the A5 was always a delight — quick and stable, thanks to the tenacious quattro AWD system. The brakes were also very strong, which boosted our confidence even more. The eight-speed automatic shifted very smoothly in drive mode, held the gears longer for better acceleration in Sport mode, and could be shifted manually with the shift lever as well.

The interior was, well, very Audi. Everything was where it was supposed to be and worked well, but it seemed designed by an architect instead of an artist. (I know, architects say they're artists, but you know what I mean.) The seats were comfortable and supportive enough, but could have used more bolstering for the speeds the car can corner.

Being a coupe, the back seats were hard to reach with the top up. Leg room was limited unless the front seats were moved forward, which is typical of midsize cars.

The turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine only produces 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which, surprisingly, is less than Ford's 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. We found it more than sufficient under all driving conditions, however. For those who must have more power, the similar Audi S5 offers a turbocharged V6 that produces 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque.

The A5 competes against the BMW 3 Series, the Infiniti G37 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Those are all fine cars, but anyone thinking of buying one should do themselves a favor and also test the Audi.

Facts and figures (all models)

• Model tested: 2013 A5 2.0T Cabriolet.

• Manufacturer: Audi.

• Class: Midsize sport coupe.

• Layout: Front engine, front and all-wheel-drive (as tested).

• Style: Two-door convertible.

• Engines Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4 (211 hp, 258 lbs-ft).

• TransmissionS: Continuously variable transmission (CVT); eight-speed tiptronic automatic with sport and manual shift modes (as tested).

• EPA estimated FWD city/highway/mileage: 20/30/24.

• Price: Beginning at approximately $43,550 ($48,645 as tested).

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