A quick flight to Nice to pick up an Audi A5 Cabriolet at the international press launch. From the airport we drove into the hills with the roof down and caught some much-missed sun.
Then it was down to the harbour at Monaco and I was surprised to get so many looks, especially as Ferraris, Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Fiat 500s are the norm. But this Audi is a great-looking car and deserves all the attention it gets.
The A5 Cabriolet looked as good alongside the multi-million pound floating mansions as cars costing six times as much did.
The quality is typical from Audi, with fit, finish and attention to detail second to none. Audi has chosen to stick with a lightweight fabric roof for its stylish looks, to save room in the boot and save weight over a folding metal hard-top.
The roof folds down in around 15 seconds and can be operated at speeds of up to 31mph.
With the roof up it is a quiet as a saloon. With the roof down there is very little wind noise or buffeting even when sitting in the rear.
We tested the new start/stop system fitted to a 2.0 TDI. This goes into full production later this year and will be available on most Audi cars.
It helps reduce CO2 and improve fuel consumption and we found it to be super efficient – quick on start-up, quiet and refined.
Three engines will be available at launch: a 2.0 TFSI with 210bhp, a 265bhp 3.2 FSI V6 and a 3.0 TDI with 240bhp. A 330bhp S5 and the 2.0 TDI with start/stop will arrive later this year.
Prices start from £29,795 and go up to £42,000 for the super-quick S5. First UK deliveries are due in May and Audi expects to sell around 2,500 in the UK this year.
Many people ask me what is my favourite car, what would I buy, or what would I have on my drive?
Well, this week I have had two almost-perfect cars on my drive from either end of the price spectrum.
In the blue corner is the Ford Ka Zetec – small yet comfortable and practical, and able to return 50mpg. It would be a tough call to choose between the Ka and the Fiat 500 with which it shares many parts.
In the red corner is an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which costs £82,000 more than the Ka, yet has two seats, can manage only 25mpg on a long journey, but makes a fantastic noise. One produces 70bhp, the other 420bhp.
Another number is more frightening – the Aston loses more in depreciation in the first month than the Ka costs to buy (£9,500).
Ford has got the new Ka so right in terms of design and quality, and while is it not particularly cheap, prices start from £7,945 for a 1.2 Studio.
The Aston has fantastic history and heritage, and everyone recognises one, from the young to the old.
So which would I choose if it had to be one? The Ka is very much today’s car – bright, modern and economical.
The Aston is very yesterday – uneconomical in all departments, temperamental, but what a car to drive.
Decision time – can I keep them both?