SPRING is sprung, the evenings are drawing out and there is a glimpse, albeit a slight one, that summer is just around the corner.
So what better time to launch a cabriolet?
That's exactly what Audi has just done. Following hot on the heels of the all-new second generation A5 Coupe and Sportback the cabriolet models offer the very best of open-top motoring - and we Brits simply love the opportunity to get the top down at the first hint of sunshine.
According to the premium German brand, the A5 cabrio has evolved and been built on the strengths of the outgoing model and is new from the ground up.
It's lighter by 55kgs, more fuel efficient, available with a choice of four or six cylinder engines and can also feature the company's new S tronic gearbox. The latest incarnation is 47mm longer, 8mm slimmer and has a wheelbase that has increased by 14mm.
The three-layered fully acoustic hood can be raised in 15 seconds at speeds up to 31mph and it closes in 18 seconds. There are even microphones in the headrests of the two front seats so that the driver and passenger can hear telephone conversations with the roof down.
The interior has been given quite a makeover and now incorporates all the latest infotainment systems along with 30 driver assistance systems.
Headroom and shoulder room has been increased and there is an ultra slim profile dashboard with a continuous band of air vents and a 3D inlay that runs the entire width of the dash. Audi's fabulous virtual cockpit which allows the driver to alter the readouts, is also available as an option.
Standard equipment levels are good with the likes of alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, twin leather heated seats, Audi smartphone interface, Audi drive select to alter the driving modes, 3-zone climate control and plenty more besides.
Prices range from £35,235 for the entry level A5 Cabriolet up to £51,835 for the all-singing, all-dancing S5 Cabriolet.
We tried out a couple of models on the sweeping countryside roads where we were even blessed with a little warmth and above all, no rain. That meant the roof could be lowered, the wind deflector raised and off we popped!
First up was the A5 Cabriolet 2.0-litre TDI 190ps S line S tronic priced at £41,780 (increased to £47,805 with optional extras fitted).
This car can reach 62mpg from a standing start in 8.3 seconds, tops out at 144mph and according to official figures can deliver a combined 60.1mpg (on 19-inch wheels) with carbon emissions of 124g/km.
The first thing to say about the A5 convertible is how beautifully sculpted it looks. There are sharp lines and creases and it looks exceptionally athletic whilst maintaining a certain elegant stance.
Move inside and the clutter-free cabin is feature rich and looks ultra modern in its layout.
Audi has left no stone unturned in its bid to shed the pounds to improve efficiency and even the carpets are made from a lighter material as is the brake pedal which is now formed from aluminium. They may sound like small adjustments but running costs are high on most people's agenda these days.
Comfort levels within the cabin are excellent and there is room for a couple of adults in the back with luggage space of 380 litres. The 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats increase that capacity although the official figure is not yet available.
This car was powered by a 2.0-litre 190ps diesel engine mated to a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and it performed wonderfully well.
On twisting lanes the road holding was truly assured meaning it could be pushed into bends with plenty of enthusiasm and confidence. The ride was smooth even on the larger wheels and noise levels with the roof raised are kept to a minimum.
The steering is nice and precise with plenty of driver feedback and the ride comfort levels are high with virtually no body roll.
In town traffic the car was a head turner as it cruised along, sashaying its way through the congested traffic and then as soon as the open road opens up, it cannot wait to show off to a crowd.
The different driving modes mean you can alter the car's handling and responses, plus paddle shifts allow you to take more control of the gear changes.
Next up was the mighty S5 Cabriolet 3.0 TFSI quattro 354ps Tiptronic priced at £50,350 (£61,190 with options). This model could blast its way to 62mph from a standing start in just 5.1 seconds, maxed out at a limited 155mph and it can deliver 36.2mpg on a combined run with emissions of 177g/km.
If it's a cabriolet with attitude that rocks your boat, then look no further as the S5 has it all. It looks the business with its dynamic styling, oozes class within the cabin and delivers all the edge-of-the-seat handling you could possibly wish for.
The S5 Cabriolet is a car that can cope with dreary, cold and wet days, but thrives on a heatwave. The acceleration is blisteringly quick and once again, the car is kept firmly on course.
This particular model also featured Audi's all-wheel-drive quattro system for extra grip.
It also came with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission which is super slick and races through the gears.
Switch the car into ‘dynamic' mode for the most brutal ride and handling and when you want a little less excitement there are other modes such as Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Individual. That said; the car seems happiest in the Dynamic setting - and so did the driver!
All in all the new A5 and S5 Cabriolet models are a very welcome addition to the Audi line-up.
They are beautifully crafted, packed to bursting with techno treats and class-leading safety systems and they drive like a dream. Roll on summer.