THIS report has to start with an apology to the tourism businesses on the Isle of Wight.
Why? Because the end of the June heatwave had nothing to do with complex weather systems, high or low pressure, or anything other than the fact that we hopped off the Lymington to Yarmouth ferry in an Audi A5 cabriolet for a two-day business trip.
Naturally, it was also a chance to get the roof down and soak up some rays so the weather dutifully obliged by turning cloudy, cool, and occasionally showery.
Not that we were deterred. We had already had the roof tucked away on several trips and a bit of cooler weather was not going to defeat us. Part of the brief was to take a look at the south west of the Diamond Isle and some tourism spots.
When we got to the best bits the sun did oblige by appearing from behind the clouds for sufficiently long to top up the Vitamin D as we drove.
There was a lot to like about this Audi, which comes from a carmaker showing almost as much devotion to sawing the tops off its cars as it does to promoting permanent 4×4 through its Quattro models.
After a week enjoying the simplicity of a Fiat 124 Spider, with a three second hood operation and not even a whisper from a motorised mechanism, the Audi was the complete opposite.
Pull up a switch on the centre console and the rear panel and canvas roof went into a routine that seriously impressed our “Strictly” fan grand-daughters. Even Len Goodman, bless him, would have given the Audi, suitably finished in Tango Red, more than a seven had he not retired from the judging panel.
The Audi was also a good example of how civilised diesel engines have become thanks to its 190PS version of the VW Group’s 2.0 litre turbodiesel.
You can go bigger with a 3.0 diesel but in a car like this, a real boulevard cruiser perfectly suited to Isle of Wight seafronts, what’s the point? After all, with the DSG automated seven speed gearbox taking drive to the front wheels this car can manage a 144mph top speed and 0-62 mph time of 8.3 seconds.
Blip the throttle in the wrong place and you could suddenly find yourself in an Audi speedboat!
With its optional 19-inch wheels, the car emits 124 g/km of CO2 which is not that far above the 118 g/km of the standard 17-inch wheels or 122 g/km of the 18-inch items.
Over the test, the Audi averaged about 43mpg in a very mixed bag of driving, maybe more representative than the official 60.1mpg. Possibly there’s a cause for range anxiety over a long distance as the standard fuel tank is just 40 litres to allow for the 12 litres of AdBlue capacity necessary to clean up emissions as the world clamps down on demon diesel, AdBlue being a non-toxic, non-flammable, odourless and biodegradable reducing agent that is pumped in to exhaust gas to help make cars cleaner and more efficient.
It must work, this AdBlue, for even with the hood down on a windy day no familiar fumes filter into the car, as we’ve experienced with diesel droptops in the past. In fact driving in this Audi was noticeably buffet-free even though there was no pop-up windbreak to ease the airflow as many other convertibles have.
The car also felt delightfully solid. Despite there being very few apparent opportunities for tarmac salesmen on the Isle of Wight because so many routes had been recently resurfaced, there were occasions when the rumpled roads would have caused lesser convertibles to develop a bad case of the DTs after losing the support of their roof.
This is the more remarkable because the test car carried Audi’s S-Line set-up that gives it a firmer, sportier ride. It showed in the handling but was not something that had to be suffered as a compromise.
Despite its size, the Audi is really only a 2+2 at best. Four adults might find life a little too cramped but a couple with two children could tolerate it as a daily drive – but it’s a fair bet that before long they would want a second car to do the really hard family work. There is a 380 litre boot but that may not prove sufficient for many.
It’s a very liveable and loveable car, but at £42,625 on the road the new excise duty rules will make it a little more taxing to drive.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: A5 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI 190PS S line S tronic
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 8.3 secs
Top speed: 144mph
PS: 190 @ 3800 – 4200 rpm
Torque: 400 nm @ 1750 – 3000 rpm
…and your wallet…
CO2 emissions: 124 g/km
Best bits: consummate convertible