Audi’s line-up of A5 convertibles includes a wide variety of models. After discussing the A5 2.0 TFSI Cabriolet last year, it was time to have a look at the master of the series; the S5 Cabriolet. Not a standard one of course, but a version tuned by the German car specialist MTM from Wettstetten.
We all know that talks of downsizing are ongoing over the past year. In the switch from Coupe to Cabriolet, the S5 has swapped the 4.2 liter V8 for a supercharged 3.0 liter V6 – the exact same engine as the Audi S4. The S5 coupe will keep the naturally aspirated V8 until the 2011 model year, when it gets the blown six. The manufacturer claims the performance remained almost the same. The S5 cabriolet’s standard 328bhp is 21 less than the coupe’s V8, but each engine produces exactly the same amount of torque – 325lb-ft. Overall the fuel economy has improved by a fifth.
For those keen on enhancing their vehicle MTM is one of the options to choose. Their program for the S5 Cabriolet contains a total of five performance stages, an exhaust with or without valve control, suspension kit, Brembo brake kit and three different sets of wheels. Upon request you can also get Recaro seats and rims in different colors. The car on display in this road test has got the full package!
The performance kits range from optimized reprogramming of the control electronics through to the complete conversion of the engine unit. The first stage includes the V-Cantronic system which removes the speed limiter and improves the top speed up to 287km/h. The second phase includes only the M-Cantronic system improving the performance up to 380hp (280kW) and a maximum torque of 490Nm. The third kit achieves the same but sets the figures at 515Nm and 430hp (317kW). The fourth and fifth kit are extensions and combine the second and third stage with the V-Cantronic system. So a combination between V-Cantronic and M-Cantronic!
The outcome of this implementation is astonishing. The speed build-up of the vehicle has improved noticeably, especially in the higher rev range. The increase of speed catapults the MTM S5 Cabriolet beyond the marker of 250km/h and keeps on accelerating up to a V-max of 287km/h. The top speed is reached with an ease we didn’t expect on forehand. The seven-speed dual clutch gearbox (the only transmission available on the S5) is a key player in this achievement. Full throttle up-shifts produce a smile, but it isn’t the ultimate you expect from a sports car. The reactions to the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles is painfully lethargic.
A rather noticeable downfall is when a lower gear needs to be selected for initial acceleration. The reverberating noise that comes from the back after hitting the throttle is an unpleasant deep broom. For those cruising in the country side it’s rather annoying, not particularly pleasant. The new exhaust system doesn’t enhance this, on the contrary provided the same noise, even with the throttle valves closed. It is clear that Audi needs some decent improvements on this gear setting, perhaps an idea for MTM to ‘tune’ this behavior.
The ride is of course firm, as you would expect from a sports car with lowered and stiffened suspension, but we liked it. The improvements by MTM are noticeable and give the vehicle more impressive looks. The springs are individual adjustable at the front 10-40mm and rear 15-45mm. The steering is sufficient and orientated at comfort and not at dynamic drive characteristics. It is a touch light when hustling on mountain roads, feels just right around town, but is a bit too light while exceeding speeds of 230km/h.
Regarding brakes and rims there is not a lot to talk about. The brake kit is a proper enhancement to accompany the improved performance. The front brake disks are granulated and sizing 380x34mm and have eight-piston Brembo calipers. The rims are a matter of taste. The MTM S5 Cabriolet was outfitted with special red MTM Bimoto rims sizing 10,5×21 ET 40 including 10mm adapter kit. If requested 19 inch rims and full wheel sets are available.
The interior shares our findings from the A5 Cabriolet road test. It is premium speced, beautifully built and a civilized place to enjoy a convertible. Make sure you get the Bang and Olufsen stereo – a must-have -, MMI navigation plus including 3D footprints in cities, Bluetooth mobile phone kit, electric leather seats and three-zone climate control which change settings automatically when the roof is opened or closed. In the standard S5 spec you can get sports seats, unfortunately without Audi’s new neck-warming system. MTM however, fitted their own Recaro seats named “Sportser CS”.
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As an open-top tourer, the S5 cabriolet hits all the right notes. Add the changes by MTM and you have a properly enhanced version capable of achieving higher top speeds and faster sprints. Push it too its limits and you will notice it’s not perfect and lacks the sportiness you would expect from a S-model. The downfalls are the immediate upshifts while cruising and the sound the exhaust produces around these revs. Most of all the S5 Cabriolet is a very good vehicle boosting your ’self-confidence’ with a massive amount of Speed to it.