The Audi S4 name was originally used for the high performance sport version of the Audi 100 car, and has subsequently been used for similar versions of the Audi A4 series. Manufactured at Audi AG’s Ingolstadt plant in Germany, they are, or have been available as a five-door five-seat Avant, Audi’s name for an estate car(station wagon), a four-door five-seat saloon (sedan), and a two-door four-seat Cabriolet (convertible) version. Furthermore, their internal combustion engines are all front-mounted, and are longitudinally orientated.
The new 2010 Audi S5 Cabriolet looks good from any angle. Even from the inside of the back seat with the soft-top snuggly closed. The room isn’t adequate for someone six-foot six, but that’s not the point. Viewed from this slightly cramped vantage, the fact that Audi attends to details in a most exhaustive manner seems abundantly clear. A textured, seemingly mass-less material forms the smooth underside of the multi-layered fabric top. No crossbars or hinged joints show. Set into this impossibly thin material are LED reading lamps intended to benefit both rows of seats. I can’t recall ever having the need to read anything whilst in the back seat of a convertible with the top up, but those Germans from Ingolstadt knew someone else might. The balance of the interior is typically Audi, meaning excellent detailing from the stitched seats to the S-trim only red lines around the gauge pods.
The 2010 S5 replaces the 2009 S4 Cabriolet as the most affordable convertible in the Audi line. It shares the wider and longer stance of the S5 Coupe, as well as many of that car’s most beautiful exterior lines. An elegant detail is the way aluminum trim artfully wraps around the windshield and then rearward around the perimeter of the cabin in an unbroken line. Design magic. The new S4 lacks panache when parked next to its more costly stable mate, but that doesn’t make it an unattractive sedan. The interiors look similar, as do some exterior details, including the handsome LED DRLs and LED taillamps. Audi’s new supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with direct injection powers both cars. Those who need a V-8 can still find it in the S5 Coupe. With nearly equal power, about the only thing missing from the blown V-6 is the familiar is pleasing exhaust note of the eight.
Pedal buried in the plush carpet, the power comes on in a linear fashion. There are no flat spots or peaks. In fact, the delivery is so smooth that it leaves the more aggressive driver wishing for more power to scare themselves with. Two gearboxes are available, the standard six-speed manual and optional S tonic dual-clutch transmission. Being a fan of what works best, I heartily recommend the paddle-equipped gearbox.
The S tronic, on the other hand, feels perfect in these two cars. Keep in mind that these are not sports cars, but sporting cars. The difference is important.
While not as boisterous as the turbocharged 2.0-liter in the Audi TTS, it’s still fun. Shifts are nearly instant, with rev-matching on the downshifts.
Top down, rougher roads did excite some shake in the windshield header. The side-to-side movement wasn’t wholly objectionable, and pointed out a compromise the engineers must have made to keep the S5’s weight down (4,350 pounds!) as opposed to adding even more structure.
Top up, the S5 felt tight and capable of being as much of a four-season car as any retractable hard top.
The 2010 Audi S4 and S5 Cabriolet are a two-model attack directed at the BMW 3er and the Mercedes C-Class. Compared on a feature-equalized basis, the Audis present a compelling argument for cross shopping.