The Classy 2018 Audi A5 Cabriolet

The seasons always change, but convertibles rarely do. The idea of a retractable roof on automobiles has existed since before the invention of the car itself, and droptops have been a mainstay of Audi’s offerings for decades now. In the United States, the four-ring brand sells four convertibles for a variety of clientele. There’s the small and relatively affordable A3 for sun seekers on a (sort of) budget, the stylish TT for sportier and more style-conscious tastes, and the wild R8 Spyder for those looking to cause a stir. Think of the mid-level A5 and its S5 sibling, then, as Audi’s Goldilocks cabriolets: not too big, not too small, not too expensive, but not too plebeian, either.

And yes, the A5 is just right. Like the A5 coupe we tested earlier this year, the newly redesigned A5 cabriolet sets nary a tire wrong, being exactly as polished, swift, and refined as we’ve come to expect from modern Audis—only with the extra joy of open-air driving to sweeten the deal.

For starters, the droptop A5 is a performer. An extra 360 pounds compared with the coupe dulls the cabriolet’s acceleration somewhat, increasing the zero-to-60-mph time from the coupe’s 5.0 seconds to a less spry 5.6. But the A5 cabriolet still turned in a sports-car-like skidpad figure of 0.96 g and a short 145-foot stop from 70 mph, beating out its hardtop counterpart by 0.03 g and 7 feet. The two A5s wore different tires, with the convertible riding on Hankook Ventus rubber and the coupe on Continental ContiSportContacts, but both are nevertheless mighty impressive at the track.

Those cornering and braking numbers from this base, four-cylinder A5 even outstrip the more performance-oriented Mercedes-AMG C43 cabriolet, although that car competes more directly with the 354-hp, V-6–powered Audi S5 cabriolet. While the S5 would give the turbocharged six-cylinder C43 a better run for its money in stoplight drag races, given the snappiness of the A5 2.0T’s turbocharged inline-four and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, we’d think twice before spending the extra $12,700 for the S5.

Audi’s expert chassis tuning also means that the A5 is able to balance its performance with a genuinely relaxed character, appropriate for its mission as a luxury droptop that most owners will use as a fair-weather daily driver. Its ride quality is plush and composed, and the stiff structure never quivers. Even in the firmer Dynamic driving mode—and despite our test car’s larger 19-inch wheels (18s are standard)—harsh impacts rarely penetrate the cabin.

Thus far, Audi has stuck with traditional softtops, presumably to save weight and to ease packaging versus the retractable hardtops some competitors favor. The A5 cabriolet’s cloth top does a good job of insulating the cabin when raised, with only a small amount of wind noise noticeable on the highway. Lowering the top is a 15-second affair that can be done at speeds up to 31 mph. When folded, the roof occupies a bit of space in the trunk, shrinking cargo volume to 7 cubic feet (from 9 with the top raised). Audi offers a removable wind deflector, but we don’t think it’s really needed given how well the car controls wind buffeting without it, even at highway speeds. When installed, the deflector prohibits use of the rear seats, which are generously sized for a compact convertible. They can easily accommodate two adults for short- and medium-length trips.

If pressed to come up with criticisms for the A5 cabriolet, we might throw some stones at its staid looks, which we consider a step backward from the previous generation’s clean and classic design. Audi has given in to the current trend of ostentatious grilles, making the front end look overwrought, while the profile and rear end are nearly indistinguishable from those of the previous A5. Our test car’s sober Florett Silver paint didn’t help counter the A5’s tendency to blend in. More distinct hues are available, but none will give the A5 the same street presence as Mercedes-Benz’s stylish C-class cabriolet.

The A5 cabriolet’s goodness also doesn’t come cheap, with the convertible costing nearly $7000 more than the coupe. Our Prestige-trim-level test car was loaded with extras, including the $1800 Driver Assistance package, $1000 adaptive dampers, the $2100 Luxury package, and $1050 19-inch wheels, pushing the total to $65,050. At that price, we can’t help but start thinking about one of our other favorite droptops, the Porsche 718 Boxster, even if that sporty two-seat roadster isn’t exactly a fair competitor for the cushier, four-passenger A5.

Instead of being a highly focused machine like the Porsche, though, the A5 aims to please a wide swath of customers by doing just about everything well. In its latest iteration, it succeeds mightily at that mission.





(Car and Driver)


Ford Shows Mustang’s New Line Lock Burnout Feature



Been saving your pennies for a 2015 Ford Mustang? Put in a few extra shifts or some overtime? Got a great down payment ready? Well, however much you saved for your new pony car, start saving more – you’ll need the extra money to spend on tires.

That’s because the Mustang will come with Line Lock, which can lock the front brakes electronically, allowing drivers to perform big, dumb, smoky burnouts without moving so much as an inch. It’s sort of like launch control, only the average driver might actually use it.

Now, line locks aren’t uncommon, particularly in drag racing. Usually, a flip of the switch locks the front brakes. The Mustang, besides offering the system from the factory which is unique in and of itself, looks a bit more involved.

We’re quite glad Ford has gone ahead and published this video. When it finally comes time for us to test the all-new Mustang, we’ll be plenty familiar with the first feature we test. Take a look below for the full video. 

Toyota Puts a Halt to Its Fire Sales


A lot of Toyota dealers are going to find it difficult to grind out their end-of-month goals, thanks to a stop-sale directive from the company that covers eight different models. Approximately 36,000 vehicles in dealer stock and an unknown number of additional vehicles inbound to dealers will have to be held due to a risk of their fabric seats catching fire.

Automotive News reports that a South Korean supplier notified Toyota that the parts used in its seat heaters did not meet United States standards for flame retardation. The company is preparing to replace the seat heaters with regulations-compliant parts.

The affected vehicles:

  • 2013 and 2014 Camry sedans
  • 2013 and 2014 Camry hybrids
  • 2013 and 2014 Avalon sedans
  • 2013 and 2014 Avalon hybrids
  • 2013 and 2014 Corolla
  • 2013 and 2014 Sienna
  • 2013 and 2014 Tundra
  • 2013 and 2014 Tacoma

Vehicles on the above list with heated fabric seats built since August 2012 are at risk. NHTSA has yet to issue any findings or opinions on the matter.

If you’re in the market for a fabric-interior Toyota with heated seats, you’re facing a wait. If you’re in the market for a leather-interior Toyota with heated seats, now’s the time to move. Like now. Oh, what a feeling!

By: Jack Baruth

2015 Ford Mustang


After 49 years, you would think Ford would have figured out the formula for designing a new Mustang. Yet every fresh generation of the car since the ’70s has drawn great concern from the fan base — and occasionally, those fears came true. This time around, Ford’s corporate rule of building models for global consumption led to the most worry; would the new ‘Stang lose some of its essential character while chasing new buyers?

Here’s the answer: Yes, there will be right-hand-drive Mustangs, although they’ll be a small portion of total output from the Flat Rock, Mich., factory. Yes, there’s a new turbo four-cylinder engine option that will hearken back to the SVO days of the ’80s. And the rear suspension finally joins the 21st century, dropping the cheap solid rear axle setup as pioneered by the Model T.

But Ford engineers and designers say their overarching goal with the 2015 Mustang was to preserve all the traits that have made the name a mainstay of American roads and drag strips for five decades — not remake the formula for audiences abroad.

“We designed this Mustang to be a Mustang, to be the next generation update of everything important, and then take it global,” Dave Pericak, Ford Mustang chief engineer, told Yahoo. “We didn’t decide to do a global Mustang, because that would be a different product.”

Under development since 2009, the biggest change comes from the outside, where the new styling reflects the arrival of an all-new chassis. Despite selling 9 million copies, the Mustang has always been something of a corporate beggar within Ford, relying on parts from other models in a bid to stay affordable. For the first time, Ford gave the Mustang its own unique chassis, although rumors around Dearborn suggest it could eventually spawn a Lincoln sedan to shoulder some overhead costs.

The new Mustang rides lower to the ground, and takes a few cues from other Fords, but the thick grille, long roof slope to a short trunklid and sequential taillights all maintain the Mustang look. Inside, the changes seem less dramatic — a touch more brightwork, a standard push-button start, and better materials, but still a 2+2 seater with a fighter-like cockpit.

“We were trying to get that right mix of Mustang-ness versus modernity,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s chief of design. “People that know it as a Mustang will recognize it instantly, and those that don’t will still see it as a modern sports car.”

Under the hood will rest one of three engines, starting with a revised version of the Coyote 5-liter V-8 which Ford says will produce more than the current model’s 420 hp. and 396 lb.-ft. of torque. The base 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 also gets a minor tweak, but is mostly unchanged. The real news: an optional 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo four-cylinder, which will be a mid-level engine in the United States and the base engine overseas, offering at least 305 hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, with the best fuel economy of any setup.

While Ford left the choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmission unchanged, it altered everything else about how that power reaches the road. The solid rear axle that Mustang loyalists so staunchly defended over the years that paid dividends at the drag strip while turning every neighborhood speed bump into a launching pad has finally given way to a modern, integral-link independent rear suspension. That allows bigger stock tires, up to a 9.5-inch wide rear wheel on the top GT. Brake discs grow as well, with up to 15-inch discs on the front.

Most of those changes would improve everyday performance, but as expected the Mustang gets better software as well. Launch control trickles down from the GT500 into the regular GT, which also gets a multi-mode driving system with settings for bad weather, normal driving and track days. All of this tech will haul less weight — although Pericak would not confirm that the ‘Stang had lost as much as 200 lbs. in the new form, saying Ford was still making final adjustments before production begins.

And while Pericak wouldn’t disclose any hard performance data, he did say the engineers not only used the Mustang Boss 302 as a handling benchmark for the new car, but also a few models typically not compared with a Mustang, like the Porsche 911. “We set some pretty high targets,” he said.

Those targets may help the Mustang with buyers in China and Europe, where Ford will market the car for the first time. But it’s in the United States, and against a revived Chevy Camaro, where the new Mustang will be judged most when it arrives in dealers sometime next autumn — and based on everything shown so far, the race between pony cars will be as close as ever.

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By Justin Hyde | Motoramic

This Ford Fusion Energi Features Interior Fabrics Made of…Coke Bottles

Ford has unveiled a Fusion Energi plug-in hybridresearch vehicle that uses fabric made using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle Technology for seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door panel inserts and headliners. The car will be on display starting next week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Coca-Cola says fabric made using this technology consists of up to 30 percent plant-based materials and shows the potential for renewable materials to help replace petroleum and other fossil fuels traditionally used for PET fabric.

Using Coca-Cola’s expertise, Ford has been able to produce the first-ever fiber that can be woven into durable, automotive-grade PET fabric from PlantBottle material.

The two companies say the research vehicle marks the first time PlantBottle Technology is applied beyond packaging, with the two corporations aiming to develop new products produced from renewable materials.

Both Coca-Cola and Ford use PET, a durable, lightweight plastic also known as polyethylene terephthalate, in a variety of products including plastic bottles, fabrics and carpets. Ford says that if all its U.S. models used PlantBottle interior fabrics, nearly 4 million pounds of petroleum-derived materials would be eliminated, saving the equivalent of 295,000 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 barrels of oil.

Ford already uses renewable materials for its Fusion sedans, from sound-absorbing denim material equivalent to more than two average-sized pairs of blue jeans in the car’s carpet liner, to material equivalent to 38.9 clear-plastic 16-ounce recycled bottles in select cloth-seat Fusion models and the equivalent of about 31,250 soybeans in the foam found in Fusion seat cushions. 

By Dan MihalascuImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage


2015 Mercedes-Benz S65


Just the Facts:

  • The redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG gets a new seven-speed automatic transmission with an eye on improving fuel economy.
  • The luxury car was unveiled ahead of a double world premiere on November 20 at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show and 2013 Tokyo Auto Show.
  • The 2015 S65 AMG, the pinnacle of the S-Class lineup, will go on sale in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014.

AFFALTERBACH, Germany — The redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG gets a new seven-speed automatic transmission with an eye toward improving fuel economy. The luxury car was unveiled ahead of a dual world premiere on November 20 at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show and 2013 Tokyo Auto Show.

The 2015 S65 AMG, the pinnacle of the redesigned S-Class lineup, will go on sale in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014. Pricing will be announced closer to launch date, but the car is expected to start around $215,000. The 2013 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG starts at $212,905, including a $905 destination charge. There was no 2014 S65 AMG.

The 2013 S65 AMG featured an AMG Speedshift five-speed automatic transmission and returns a combined 14 miles per gallon (12 mpg city/19 mpg highway), according to the EPA.

Mercedes-Benz did not provide fuel economy estimates on the 2015 S65 AMG. Christian Bokich, a Mercedes-Benz spokesman, said those estimates will not be available until next year.

“The seven-speed automatic transmission with its wide ratio spread guarantees a noticeably lower engine speed level,” said Daimler in a statement. “This makes a key contribution to reducing the vehicle’s fuel consumption.”

The new transmission has three individual driving programs: Controlled Efficiency, Sport and Manual. An Eco stop-start function is always activated in the Controlled Efficiency mode.

A lithium-ion battery replaces the starter battery and the backup battery, resulting in a weight savings of more than 44 pounds, according to the automaker. Despite the lithium-ion battery, the car is not a hybrid. The unusual battery is there for weight savings and overall efficiency. However, U.S. technical specifications on the car, including curb weight, will not be released until next year.

The 2015 S65 AMG is equipped with the carryover AMG 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V12 that generates 621 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque. The car accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph.

The new S65 AMG features a standard AMG sport suspension that employs Mercedes’ recently introduced Magic Body Control. If the car’s Road Surface Scan detects road undulations, Magic Body Control adjusts the suspension beforehand.

Exterior cues that differentiate it from the standard S-Class include high-gloss chrome touches, “V12 Biturbo” lettering and an AMG sports exhaust system with two chrome-plated twin tailpipes. The cabin gets AMG sport seats with new seat cushions and backrests.

Two technology upgrades make their debut in the S65 AMG: a new head-up information display and touchpad infotainment interface.

The head-up display projects information on the windshield including vehicle speed, navigation information and information from the Distronic Plus safety system. The new touchpad can be controlled like a smartphone or tablet PC. It is also possible to enter letters, numbers and special characters using handwriting.

Standard equipment includes AMG sport pedals, ambient lighting, a Burmester 3D surround system with 24 speakers and seats with hot stone massage programs.

Options include an AMG exterior carbon-fiber package, AMG ceramic brakes and a rear seat package with folding tables.

Mercedes-Benz USA did not release sales predictions on the 2015 S65 AMG, but it is expected to be sold at “very low exclusive volumes,” Bokich said.

“We don’t have buyer (demographics) as it’s a small sample size,” he said. “But, in general, AMG buyers are more affluent than Mercedes-Benz buyers, and younger — in fact, the most affluent customers that Mercedes-Benz has; V12 customers are definitely at the top of the income list.”

Edmunds says: One of the most coveted cars in the world returns to the Mercedes-Benz lineup next year.