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For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A5 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The BMW 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.
The A5’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
The A5 has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the A5. But it costs extra on the 4 Series Convertible.
Both the A5 and the 4 Series Convertible have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.
For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and its standard front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the A5 the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 184 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The 4 Series Convertible has not been tested, yet.
The Audi A5’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the 4 Series Convertible’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 3 places higher in reliability than BMW.
The A5’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the 430i Convertible’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A5 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The 4 Series Convertible requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
The A5 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.
The A5’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer launch control.
For better stopping power the A5’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the 4 Series Convertible:
For better traction, the A5 has larger standard tires than the 4 Series Convertible (245/40R18 vs. 225/45R18). The A5 Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4 Series Convertible (255/35R19 vs. 225/40R19).
The A5’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4 Series Convertible’s standard 45 series tires. The A5 Premium Plus/Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the 4 Series Convertible’s optional 40 series front tires.
The A5 has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 4 Series Convertible; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A5 is 1.6 inches wider in the front than on the 4 Series Convertible.
The Audi A5 may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 400 pounds less than the BMW 4 Series Convertible.
The design of the Audi A5 amounts to more than styling. The A5 offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .28 to .3 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the 4 Series Convertible (.3 to .31). A more efficient exterior helps the A5 go faster and keeps the interior quieter. It also helps the A5 get better fuel mileage.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the A5’s rear seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
The A5’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The 4 Series Convertible’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.
With its coupe or convertible body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A5 offers cargo security. The 4 Series Convertible’s non-lockable folding seat defeats cargo security.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 10% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.
The A5’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The 4 Series Convertible has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.
The A5 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the 4 Series Convertible. The A5 Premium Plus/Prestige also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the 4 Series Convertible.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the A5 Premium Plus/Prestige keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
Insurance will cost less for the A5 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A5 will cost $715 to $4415 less than the 4 Series Convertible over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A5 is less expensive to operate than the 4 Series Convertible because typical repairs cost much less on the A5 than the 4 Series Convertible, including $38 less for a water pump, $105 less for a muffler, $26 less for front brake pads, $144 less for fuel injection, $117 less for front struts, $491 less for a timing belt/chain and $261 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi A5 will be $2729 to $5630 less than for the BMW 4 Series Convertible.
The Audi A5/S5 outsold the BMW 4 Series by 24% during 2019.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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