Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Convertible’s hi-tech from the top down

Convertible’s hi-tech from the top down

STOP the World — I Want to Get Off is the brilliant title of a Leslie Bricusse-Antony Newley musical from the Sixties.

It is a sentiment that at times we might all feel. Yet in today’s digital world it could prove impossible to step off, even if we wanted to. We are locked into it every day of our lives.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of cars, where there is no stopping the march of technological development.

Take this week’s drive, the Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI quattro. This is a car that delivers not only my favourite mode of driving — that is, open-top with organic air conditioning (fresh air to you and me) — but also hosts an absolute shedload of hi-tech equipment.

But first to the top-down stuff: hoods on convertibles have come an awful long way since the days of carefully folding the frame and tucking the hood away — a procedure that could take a good 10 minutes if you were lucky.

On the Audi A5 Cabriolet the “high quality acoustic fabric roof” can retract smoothly out of sight in just 15 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. No getting wet there, then, when one of our beloved land’s sharp showers holds forth.

But the real attraction of the Audi A5 Cabriolet to lovers of open-top motoring is that you can also be sociable.

I often think there is a degree of smugness about motorists who potter around in their fine two-seater convertibles. All well and good, but what about when you want to take some friends for a spin?

The A5 Cabriolet actually takes passengers, other than the person sitting beside you. But if there is just the two of you then you can fit a nice wind deflector behind the front seats to keep out the draughts.

So there you are with the wind in your hair — assuming you still have flowing locks — yet you also have pristine access to the digital world that surrounds us all these days.

You want to use your smartphone applications safely while driving? Of course you do. You want to be connected even when you’re asleep, right? Well, Audi says that the Audi Smartphone Interface, standard on the Audi A5, allows you to connect safely while driving.

There’s satellite navigation, music streaming, and your contact list all available. You can access apps, approved for in-car use by Android and Apple, from the MMI controls on the A5’s centre console, to the multi-function steering wheel, Audi Voice Control, or via your smartphone’s assistant, like Siri.

You “connect your compatible smartphone via USB and the approved apps appear in full colour on the central MMI screen”.

But the technology does not stop there. The Audi A5’s new optional Matrix LED headlights produce a light similar in colour to daylight. They also incorporate sensors and an in-built camera that detects other road users, as well as ambient light in built-up areas.

They then react by dipping individual LEDs to reduce the risk of dazzling other road users, while still fully illuminating the remainder of the road.

Where available, Matrix LED technology will even use the vehicle’s navigation data to anticipate corners, adjusting LEDs as you negotiate a bend.

The result is a much wider visual range, benefiting both you and other road users. Sweeping indicators complete the striking look at the front and rear.

The technology in the Audi A5 is consummate but hey, this is 2018, where will we all be in two decades at this rate of progress on the technological front?

The optional Audi Virtual Cockpit turns your dashboard into a fully customisable digital display. And with driver assistance systems that watch the road and a head-up display that projects directly in your line of vision, you’ll have alerts and all the information you need at a glance.

All of the above and the actual performance of this car, which was literally uplifting.

The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine with exhaust turbocharger was a great performer both when taking it easy in laid-back open-top mode and when giving the car its head.

For the latter, the performance was excellent but not overdone — 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, with an achievable top speed of 149mph. All this with combined fuel consumption figures of 54.3 mpg.

Audi A5 Cabriolet 3.0 TDI quattro 218PS S line S tronic

Total cost of test model: £53,665

CO2 emissions: 134 g/km

Colour: Tofana white, crystal effect with black hood (£645)

Front sport seats in black fine nappa leather (£800)

Options include:

Driver assistance pack (£1,250)

Electrically adjustable front seats with memory function for the driver’s side (£200)

Matrix LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic front and rear indicators (£650)

Technology pack (£1,395)

Adaptive comfort suspension with damping control (£600)

Inlays in piano finish, black (£200)

Folding door mirrors with auto-dimming and memory function (£325)

Wind deflector (£300)

Motoring

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