There's something odd going on at Ingolstadt. As Audi's barrage of new model variants continues, a definite trend is emerging that the cheaper, smaller-engined models of the range are much sweeter to drive than their faster, more expensive relatives. The A5 rag-top is a case in point.
All the A5 Cab variants coming to Australian showrooms run quattro all-wheel drive and shift gears via a seven-speed DSG 'box, but there are three engine options. We drove the 155kW/350Nm turbo four-cylinder petrol version ($94,900) and the 176kW/500Nm 3.0-litre V6 diesel ($112,500). The fastest and most expensive ($116,500) model is powered by a 195kW/330Nm 3.2-litre petrol V6, but wasn't made available for us to drive. Hmm, I can hear the conspiracy theorists now...
The big oiler is smooth and swift, and that slug of turbo torque makes short work of overtaking, plus it's frugal, wearing a 6.8L/100km sticker. What it isn't, however, is all that pleasant to hustle along. The suspension is overly stiff, yet body control is a little loose, and the heavy V6 suspended between the front wheels means turn-in is reluctant.
Swapping over to the 2.0 TFSI was something of a revelation. The lighter four-cylinder engine takes understeer off the menu and sharpens turn-in. And despite the body being more tightly screwed down, ride quality is markedly more absorbent. Plus the rorty turbo-petrol donk is a honey to hammer, making the cheaper, slower 2.0 TFSI simply a more pleasant car to drive, either cruising or bruising.
Elsewhere, the A5 Cab performs exactly as you'd expect: it's extremely refined top up or down, suffers only minor scuttle shake, the interior is impeccable (although space in the rear two seats is tight) and the tautly-shaped sheetmetal is elegant from every angle. Even on the cheap model.