By Derek Price
My kids tease me about loving convertibles because I can feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my bald spot.
OK, so I’m clearly not the Hollywood-leading-man demographic that I imagine driving a stylish car like this, the 2022 Audi S5 Cabriolet. When I drop the top and cruise around in the sunshine, though, I feel every bit like Leonardo DiCaprio raising his glass in “The Great Gatsby.”
This is a car that has a gorgeous starting point, the A5 Coupe, and takes full advantage of Audi’s famously forward-looking, museum-quality styling to turn heads.
The S5 makes it look even better with some subtle styling changes — some would say too subtle, because it looks darn similar to the cheaper A5 unless you’re an aficionado — along with a host of performance upgrades. It makes gobs of power, stops with organ-shifting brutality and flies through high-speed turns like its tires are made of Super Glue.
The S5 Cabriolet, the version I drove, takes it a step farther by adding a power-retractible cloth roof, letting you expose the whole cabin in full Californian splendor. It’s absolutely glorious on a sunny day.
Unlike a lot of convertibles, though, it doesn’t make you sacrifice much when the roof is up. It’s whisper quiet, even at freeway speeds, and offers decent visibility thanks to a generous greenhouse of glass, including a huge back window.
It’s a perfect car for its mission: looking good, having fun and pampering yourself.
It’s not a hard-edged sports car, although it comes close when you dial in sport mode. It also weighs 320 pounds more than the S5 Coupe, which makes it three-tenths of a second slower to reach 60 mph.
The S5 teaches a masterclass on how to mix sporty pleasure with sumptuous comfort, though.
Its turbocharged six-cylinder engine makes 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and it sounds spectacular in the process. Under heavy throttle, it lets out the noticeable burble of a classic sports car but never sounds grating or juvenile.
The S5 feels exceptionally solid, something true of all German cars at this price. It also has a simplicity to its cabin layout that makes it look like a minimalist work of art while being easy to use at the same time.
Its interior is a comfortable and gorgeous place to spend time, including deliciously supple materials and a lot of comfort-focused tech features, such as massaging seats on my Prestige-package tester.
The only bothersome things about it are rooted in a misunderstanding of what a car like this is supposed to do.
The back seat isn’t all that spacious or easy to access, but that’s true of any sleek-looking, two-door car. If you’re worried about that, you’re looking at the wrong vehicle.
Also, because it’s a German luxury car, it’s going to be pricey to buy, own and operate. That keeps it sadly out of reach for many of us non-movie-stars.
Pricing for the S5 Cabriolet starts at $63,000, about $8,000 more than the faster and almost as cool-looking S5 Coupe.
You can add another $8,100 if you want the Prestige package with upscale features such as a premium sound system, LED headlights, top-view camera, Audi Virtual Cockpit and adaptive cruise control.
At A Glance
What was tested? 2022 Audi S5 Cabriolet ($63,000). Options: District Green metallic paint ($595), Prestige package ($8,100), 20-inch wheels with summer tires ($800). Price as tested (including $1,045 destination charge): $73,540
Wheelbase: 108.8 in.
Length: 184.9 in.
Width: 79.9 in.
Height: 54.5 in.
Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged six cylinder (349 hp, 369 lbs. ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 21 city, 28 highway
Why buy it?
It blends stunningly beautiful looks with a powerful engine, sparkling handling and a sumptuous cabin. The convertible top adds appeal for sunny days.