Road test: Audi S5 Cabriolet

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YOU could drive an S5 for the whole of its motoring life without suspecting the beast that lies beneath its bodywork. Some owners will - and that’s a pity for this Audi’s split personality can also promise a remarkably agile driver’s car.

At the wheel of a model like this, you can see why Audi has in recent times achieved so much, so quickly. It’s not perfect (the steering for example, could be sharper) but overall, let us try and define for you just why this car works as well as it does - starting with the engine. In the Cabriolet version we tried, it’s the same supercharged 333PS 3.0-litre V6 TFSI unit used in the Audi S4, the difference being that in this open-topped model at least, you can enjoy the aural experience all the more, the eager crisp engine’s snarling howl reverberating from buildings, bridges and trees every time you flick down a couple of cogs via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifts.

These shifters are standard in this Cabrio which uses a clever 7-speed double-clutch S-tronic semi-automatic transmission, one of the hi-tech breed that pre-selects the next gear for you before you’ve left the last one. It also ensures that you don’t have to be an Audi test driver to replicate the quoted performance figures - rest to sixty in 5.6s in this soft-top model, on the way to an artificially limited top speed of 155mph.

Quattro four wheel drive is standard of course - a major advantage over BMW and Mercedes rivals - a system that today diverts 60% of its energy to the rear wheels than those at the front, unless conditions dictate otherwise. You can also pay extra for the Quattro Sport differential which sharpens cornering by speeding up the outside rear wheel relative to the inside one to help point the car into a bend. Further handling finesse depends on your willingness to pay extra for the ‘Drive Select’ system which, via softer ‘Comfort’ or sharper ‘Sport’ buttons, offers changes to the responses of the steering, the dampers and the engine. Or you can set the system to your own ‘Individual’ settings.

CAR: Audi S5 Cabriolet

PRICES: £45,150 - on the road

INSURANCE GROUPS: 42

CO2 EMISSIONS: 224g/km

PERFORMANCE: Max Speed 155mph [limited] / 0-60mph 5.6s

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 29.1mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Twin airbags, side & curtain airbags, ABS, stability control

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: length/width/heightmm 4635/1854/1380mm