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2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet, Q8 Concept and SQ5: Detroit Auto Show

What Is It?

The 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet and its higher-performance sibling, the 2018 Audi S5 Cabriolet, are new soft-top variants of the upcoming A5 coupe. And they are all based on the completely fresh Audi A4, which debuted for the 2017 model year to rave reviews.

The fabric roof is operated with the push of a button and performs its task from between 15 to 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph. When it’s up, it can still provide an insulated environment suitable for a luxury car. Audi claims this new model is 40 percent stiffer (open-top cars often suffer from body flex and require compromises in suspension tuning), as well as longer and wider — the two rear passengers have 1.2 more inches of legroom. Yet the A5 is 55 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, and the S5 is 99 pounds lighter.

Both models come with all-wheel drive as standard, with a 40/60 front/rear power distribution. Under the A5’s hood is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine turbocharged to produce a healthy 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque going to a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

The S5 enjoys 354 hp and 369 lb-ft from a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. This engine connects to an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Styling-wise, these new cabriolets aren’t radically different from the cars they replace. But that’s not necessarily a downside for those who like Audi’s design approach. Naturally, they offer advanced driver aids like adaptive cruise control and a 20-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, and standard equipment includes microphones set into the front seat belts for better voice control.

Q8 Concept

Also unveiled at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show is the Q8 Concept. It’s the first Audi SUV created by the company’s new head of design, Marc Lichte, who says, “[A]n important aspect of this show car is that it offers a spacious interior with four equally comfortable seats.” And that’s despite a roof line that follows the current trend toward coupe-like profiles.

As is usually the case with concepts, Audi says this model points to the next generation of its “SUV design language.” One aspect of that language is the larger and bolder grille. This full-size SUV uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, and a production version is expected in 2018.

2018 Audi SQ

Audi has started 2017 with a bang. The other big news from Detroit is the launch of a hot Q5 variant, the SQ5. Like other Audi S vehicles, this compact premium crossover has a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It also comes with all-wheel drive and an adaptive suspension as standard. This is the second generation of SQ5 and will be available from spring 2017. No word on pricing as yet, but expect something in the range of $53,500.

How Much?

Regarding the cabriolets, pricing is still to be announced. The outgoing A5 Cabriolet starts at $48,600.

When Can You Get It?

Nothing definite yet, but the 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet and S5 Cabriolet should be here in time for summer 2017.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

Cabriolets are more about making a statement than a sensible transportation purchase, and these cars are undoubtedly stylish, refined and pleasurable. But do a little homework on resale values and it turns out the A5 is a strong performer there as well.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW 4 Series — Derived from the 3 Series, the 4 comes as a coupe or a convertible with a folding hard top.

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet — The C300 is a superb premium compact convertible and currently the only one to offer the option of an air suspension. The 362-hp AMG version outmuscles the S5.

Used Porsche Boxster — Only accommodates two, but one of the finest open-top cars available to people who don’t own banks.

Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan specializes in writing about new cars. But he has also covered trucks, vans, 3-wheelers, even the occasional motorbike. That’s the kind of thing that happens while contributing to the Los Angeles Times, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Popular Mechanics, Variety, Mazda and Lexus customer magazines, as well as many enthusiast sites and publications. He was also a staff writer at BBC Top... Read More

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