Ever since I was a child, every car I have been associated with has had a name. From the reliable people-mover vans to the racy little sports roadsters, each vehicle has its own personality. If you drive a car long enough, you will begin to learn its quirks and characteristics. You don’t always refer to it fondly; in fact, some vehicles you are more apt to curse than praise. However, love it or hate it, you have to respect your automobile and what it does for you. Thus, you personify it with a name.

This then is Natalya. Natalya’s official name is a 2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet. Both names exude self-importance. Convertibles are for peasants, Natalya is a Cabriolet. The name is beautiful yet stern, composed, somewhat cold; much like the car itself.

The 2013 Audi S5 Cabriolet by Chris Eastman

Gear Shift and Center Console

The interior is a work of art, though that comes as no surprise. Audi has long set the standard for interior quality, and this car is no exception. Natalya is finished in the baseline brushed aluminum; while the optional carbon-fiber package is quite popular, in my opinion it looks gimmicky and detracts from the natural contrast between the black and the grey. With either choice of materials however the cockpit feels luxurious. The leathers are soft and the flat-bottomed steering wheel feels positively decadent to grasp. One minor complaint is that the aluminum paddle-shifters are a bit awkwardly placed; manually shifting this car requires sacrificing the ergonomics of the wheel rather severely and feels like an afterthought.

At the core of the interior is the Multimedia Interface, or MMI. The seven inch screen serves as the home for all of the features you would expect such as GPS navigation, backup camera, and an interface with the iPod dock in the glove box. One interesting addition is that Natalya includes a SIM card with a 3G connection, and can serve as a mobile wifi hotspot. This also facilitates the convenient passing of destination information from any web browser through a service called Audi Connect. Overall, the MMI feels crisp, smooth, and modern. Although it does not contain a touch screen like some of the higher priced Audi models, navigation through the wheel and context-sensitive buttons is far more intuitive than some competitive systems such as BMW's iDrive.

Ventilated Leather Seats

The S5 is also not lacking in creature comforts. It comes standard with heated seats, and Natalya has the optional comfort package which adds ventilation to the seats for warm days and a neck-level heater for cold ones. Together, they greatly extend the length of the seasons where top-down driving is desirable. This car also has a wide variety of convenience features to take the stress out of driving and make the cabin a welcoming place to be. Nothing has been neglected. The seatbelt extends toward you when you start the car. A backup camera with guidelines makes entering and leaving the crowded garage easier. An indicator lights up unobtrusively when another vehicle enters your blind spot, and flashes vigorously if you attempt to change lanes or drift towards them. The windshield wipers sense the rain and adapt their speed accordingly, and the headlights will subtly move as you round a corner for optimum illumination. In fact, the only complaint I have while sitting in my S5 is that the so-called “premium” B&O stereo system comes across a bit flat and is markedly lacking in bass; a shortcoming which will be worthy of an aftermarket alteration at a later date.

Another reviewer once said “driving an S5 makes you feel like you’ve made the right decisions in life”. I can think of no better summary than this. In a similar price bracket, you may find faster cars, or flashier, or with more bells and whistles. And the car is not without a number of nuisances and annoyances of its own. But you would be hard pressed to find a car with greater composure or a more exclusive feel than my Natalya.

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