It's still a lot of money, but you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Grand touring convertibles like the 2023 Audi S5 Convertible have become a rare breed. Once a staple of any luxury automaker's lineup, the drop-top four-seater configuration is (with a few exceptions) limited to the big three German brands, two muscle cars from Detroit, and a handful of six-figure exotics. The S5 Cabriolet sits above the A5 Cabriolet in Audi's lineup, as there is no RS5 in this current generation.
With 349 horsepower from a turbocharged V6 engine, the S5 competes with the BMW M440i Convertible and the soon-to-be-replaced Mercedes-AMG C43. Like we said, it's a dwindling class. It may not be the fastest of this trio, but the Audi S5 Cabriolet is the least expensive and possibly the best if you're looking for a comfortable daily driver.
The S5 Cabriolet shares its 3.0-liter single-turbo V6 engine with the S5 Coupe and Convertible (as well as the S4 Sedan and SQ5 SUV), but it's a bit more sluggish due to its heavy folding roof. A curb weight of 4,167 pounds enables a 0-60 mph jaunt in 4.7 seconds, two-tenths slower than the S5 Sportback and three-tenths behind the S5 Coupe. Despite having more power from its inline-six engine, the M440i would finish behind the S5 at five seconds to 60 mph but would tie when equipped with xDrive AWD. Mercedes holds the advantage on power with 385 hp and the quickest 0-60 time of 4.6 seconds. As we mentioned, that will soon be replaced by a new convertible called the CLE.
If raw performance is what you are after, go for the AMG, but we doubt that's why you are shopping for four-seat luxury convertibles. The ride in the Mercedes is positively torturous, and although the BMW is pretty compliant, the Audi still wins on comfort. Among the three, we believe the Audi S5 is the best grand tourer for long trips thanks to its adaptive dampers that deliver an authentic luxury experience.
Audi S models have long offered impressive interiors that match what BMW and Mercedes offer from their M and AMG models. Fine Nappa leather seats come standard and it comes with a beautiful diamond-stitch that looks like it came straight out of a Lamborghini, especially when finished in the optional Magma Red. These seats also feature heating and massage function (the latter is rare in this class), but ventilation and neck warmers are part of a $1,150 Warm Weather Package that deletes the S sport seats in favor of more basic chairs from the A5.
Elsewhere in the cabin the S5 includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tied to an outstanding 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system as part of the Prestige Package. There's also a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit display that shows several gauge designs or a full-color map. Though the back seats aren't massive, you can fit an adult back there on a short trip.
Buyers looking for the least controversial design may gravitate towards the Audi S5. Next to the large kidney grilles of the 4 Series, the S5 looks like a more naturally beauty that doesn't need extreme plastic surgery to appear youthful. The Daytona Gray Pearl color on our tester didn't stand out much but Audi does offer some bolder colors such as Tango Red Metallic, Navarra Blue Metallic, and District Green Metallic. 19-inch wheels comes standard but we much prefer the optional 20-inch V-spoke design for just $800.
Pricing for the Audi S5 Premium begins at $64,400, making it the least expensive vehicle in its competitive set. The BMW M440i is $66,250 ($68,250 with xDrive) and the Mercedes-AMG C43 is the priciest at $69,250. Even when loaded up with the $8,100 Prestige Package and a few other options, our tester's $73,990 price with destination is not outrageous for all of the included features. Equipping the BMW or Mercedes similarly can break the $80,000 mark.
For a spirted blast up a canyon road, we'd probably take the BMW or Mercedes. But on the 364 other days of the year, we'd rather live with the Audi S5. It delivers a stellar combination of comfort, sportiness, and luxury at a price that doesn't make your eyes water. As a grand tourer that costs less than six figures, it's hard to find fault with the S5 Cabriolet.
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