Audi's RS5 offers thrill-a-minute motoring, reports Edward Stephens .
Audi has just launched its most dynamic high performance cabriolet ever – with a top speed of a staggering 174mph
The new V8-powered RS5 Cabriolet will rocket from standstill to 62mph in just 4.9 seconds and grips the road like its life depends on it.
The only bad news is that you will need a hefty bank balance if you want to buy one as you will have to part with a fraction under £69,000 to drive it away.
And that price only covers the version with the top speed electronically limited to 155 miles per hour. If you want the full 174mph version it will cost you an extra £1,300.
Nevertheless, those who do buy will get a powerhouse of a car with more grunt than a farmyard full of pigs.
The new high performance Cabriolet, which is on sale now, sits 20mm lower than the standard A5 Cabriolet, on RS specific suspension.
And despite the 443bhp that the hand built engine develops it’s easily kept under control by Audi’s four-wheel-drive quattro system, which ensures that all the power is put smoothly where it needs to be – on the road.
And this car comes with the very latest version of the quattro drivetrain – with the self-locking crown-gear centre differential and torque vectoring.
Under normal conditions the ratio of power to the front and rear wheels is 40-60 respectively, although under extreme conditions up to 70 per cent of power can go to the front wheels or up to 85 per cent to the rear to give you the best performance in any given situation.
For many people, however, cabriolets are all about the image of open top motoring and in the UK we buy more droptops per head of population than any other country.
And the hood on the RS5 can be lowered in just 15 seconds so you won’t miss a minute of any rare sunny weather we might get this year.
One of the best things is the roof can be lowered while you are on the move, at least at a speed of up to 31 miles per hour. And if you feel any rain you will only have to suffer 17 seconds of it because that’s how long it takes to raise the hood again.
Convertibles of the past were always much noisier than their fixed head counterparts, but in this case the difference is barely noticeable thanks to the high degree of sound absorption in the three-layered acoustic hood.
But whether you have the hood up or down the superb roar from the car’s V8 will still reverberate in your ears.
The engine is mated to a silky smooth seven-speed, dual clutch automatic gearbox which makes the most of its power thanks to the closely spaced first six gears, each of which gives blistering acceleration. The seventh gear is more relaxed and designed for saving fuel on long runs.
If you want even more dynamic performance you can simply move the gearshift down one notch and engage Sport rather than Drive.
Paddles behind the steering wheel let you drive the car by changing gear manually, for even better hands-on motoring.
On the road the RS5 offers thrill a minute motoring with superb road holding and grip. You can set the suspension to suit your driving style simply by hitting the mode you want on a touch screen, although for me the dynamic setting was a bit too firm and choppy for long distances.
Because of its price the RS5 is going to be a niche product, but owners will certainly be the envy of a lot people whose ideal car is a cabriolet – and particularly one with this sort of performance.