CARS ARE LIKE canines. While a car won’t make a mess on your carpet, a year in automotive terms is like a dog year. Viewed in that context, the outgoing nine-year-old Audi A5 Cabriolet is something of a geriatric hound.

Thankfully, Old Yeller has been swapped for a newborn puppy. This second-generation A5 Cabriolet is based on our 2016 Car of the Year, the A4, but because it’s billed as sportier, you can’t have the A4’s lower-powered engines, just petrols and diesels with 187bhp or more. The new A5 Cabriolet has much better fuel economy and CO2 emissions than its predecessor, thanks to some new technology and a bit of weight loss, which is impressive when you consider that the car is longer than before.

Put your sensible cap on
You can have up to 349bhp in the S5 Cabriolet performance model, but the 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine we’re testing here is likely to be the most popular choice. Stick to front-wheel drive and CO2 emissions are as low as 118g/km, while quattro four-wheel drive adds just 4g/km to that figure. Official fuel economy is more than 60mpg for both models.

Plenty of power is available from low revs, so getting up to motorway speeds is no chore at all. It’s also more refined than the equivalent engines in the rival BMW 4 Series Convertible and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet, making little diesel dirge when accelerating. What you want from the steering is a real sense of connection, but while it is consistent and pleasantly weighted in this instance, little feedback filters up from the front wheels. It doesn’t take long to realise that the A5 Cabriolet is at its happiest when cruising.

Handling isn’t bad, though, with a lot of grip and little lean in corners, even with the optional adaptive dampers (Ј900) set to Comfort mode. And yet the ride is smooth, especially if you stick to the SE and Sport trims’ standard 17in alloys.

Despite having had its roof lopped off, there is very little flex in the A5 Cabriolet’s body; only over sharp bumps do you feel the occasional shudder through the steering wheel.

A fine design
The dashboard is simple and beautifully constructed. Switches are logically placed, and there are lots of plush plastics and attractive trims to lift the ambience. Both the driver’s seat and steering wheel have loads of adjustment, so they’ll suit both tall and short drivers. As standard, you get Audi’s easyto- use MMI infotainment system, which is controlled by a rotary dial between the seats. Its 7.0in screen can be complemented by a 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display (Ј250) that replaces traditional dials. A head-up display (Ј900) is also available. The front is spacious, but it’s far tighter in the rear, with not much leg room and very limited head room for adults with the roof up. It’s worse than in the A5 Coupe but about the same as in any rival. The boot is similar in size to those of rivals with the roof up, but the roof takes up a fair bit of space when you fold it down. Even so, the boot is bigger than those of most small family hatchbacks. Raising or lowering the roof takes less than 20 seconds and can be done while driving at up to 31mph.

Smooth and sunny
Mooching along with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair is a thoroughly pleasurable experience in the A5 Cabriolet. With a strong yet frugal engine, a comfy ride and a stunning interior, it’s a great car in which to unwind. However, it’s unlikely to get your pulse racing, so if you want a bit more excitement, the 4 Series will be more your cup of tea. But for everyone else, we wholeheartedly recommend the A5 Cabriolet.