There are moments in a British summer when the weather is so sublime one simply cannot resist the urge to whip off one’s top and head for the nearest park.
Cruising along Kensington High Street en route to Dulwich for lunch with a friend, I’ve never drawn so many admiring glances. One gentleman practically walked into a lamp-post, so transfixed was he. At the Oval, a group of sixth-form schoolboys momentarily tore their gaze away from their phones to aim a series of broadly appreciative remarks in my direction in their native urban patois.
Of course, it wasn’t me they were admiring. It was my ride: the new Audi A5 Cabriolet. Fire-engine red with a set of alloys to make a grown scaffolder weep hot tears of envy into his sugary cuppa, it’s the automotive equivalent of a Page 3 Stunner — Linda Lusardi on wheels. That is to say, fun, flirty and more than a little bit flashy. And with not an awful lot under the bonnet.
I have some experience of what Audi engineering can bring to a vehicle, and I’m afraid the A5 isn’t it. No raw pull, no prowl, no hugging the tarmac like an oil slick. The A5 may look like a glamorous high-performance sports car on the outside, but the truth is that underneath that come-hither bonnet beat the pistons of a disappointingly responsible middle-aged mum.
Put it this way: it can talk the torque but it just doesn’t walk the walk. Sure, it has an impressive electric roof that folds back in just ten seconds — but so does my mother’s Mercedes, and she won that in a competition. (No, really, she did: she got one of those texts that you think are a scam, only being my mother — that is to say, a nice, trusting person — she replied, whereupon a few days’ later a lady rang up and told her she’d won the car. Most infuriating.)
And sure, the A5 has all the knobs and buttons you would expect from a modern car, but it’s also uncommonly irritating in the way modern cars can be. For example, it becomes hysterical if you so much as come within a foot of another vehicle, making the most ear-piercing noise and flashing all sorts of red lights, which a) can be somewhat alarming if you’re not expecting it and b) makes driving in traffic and weaving in and out of lanes and around back streets even more of a headache-inducing experience than normal.
As for the in-built sat-nav, it takes so long to programme and is so fiddly you might as well just use Waze. Except, of course, there’s nowhere to put your phone hands-free.
None of these things would ordinarily bother me if the driving were up to scratch. But it’s not. Like many eco-aspirant cars, the A5 has stop-start technology. Which would be fine were it not or the fact that it’s rather more stop than start.
More than once I found myself delayed at traffic lights, waiting for the engine to come back to life so I could pull away. Not even the Nissan does that to me. That said, once the A5 gets going, it’s perfectly decent. But nothing you couldn’t get from almost any other car in this price-bracket.
Put it this way: I’ve driven more exciting prams. Actually, I now realise who this car is aimed at: Wags.
At a starting price of around £34,000 and just enough space in the back to carry two standard-issue teenagers, the A5 is the perfect car for the well-heeled fortysomething mum-about-town who can’t actually drive (it has lavishly assisted parking features) but wants something swanky to swan about it and the chance to show off her faux tan and Chanel sunnies whenever the weather permits.
In fact, most of the engineering seems to have gone into ensuring a draught-free ride even with the top down, something that features prominently in the accompanying literature. A key feature, I imagine, for this market. After all, one doesn’t want to ruin one’s blow-dry.
So whether it’s ferrying little Kai to football or meeting up with the girls for a few proseccos and matching mani-pedis, the A5 is just the ticket — a triumph of style over content.
I’m sure it will be a roaring success.
Engine: 2.0 TFSI
Performance: 0-62, 7.9 seconds
TOP SPEED: 147mph
Road Tax band: H