Audi A3 Cabriolet Review
The Audi A3 Cabriolet is the drop-top version of the A3 saloon. Its main rivals are the BMW 2 Series Convertible, the Vauxhall Cascada and the VW Golf Cabriolet. The Cabriolet is one in a range of A3 models such as the two-door A3, the practical A3 Sportback and the all-rounder A3 Saloon.
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The Audi A3 Cabriolet is called a four-seater but the tight seats in the back mean it may be better thought of as a 2+2 – adults will not want to spend any time in the back if they can help it. Up front, though, things are just swell, there’s plenty of space to stretch your legs and you get to enjoy Audi’s peerless build quality. The fabric roof means you also have a reasonably sized boot to fill.
Despite the loss of a hard-top roof, the A3 Cabriolet does a good job of minimising the inherent shakiness of cars of this type, although you’ll still notice it on really rough roads. It’s not the most inspiring of drives, much like the hatchback the convertible offers neutral, safe handling rather than anything too exciting.
Engines are also shared with the ‘hatch. You can choose from a variety of petrol and diesels and all offer relatively cheap running costs. The 1.4-litre turbo petrol is quick, cheap to run and doesn’t suffer from the diesel models’ clatter. For these reasons, it is the pick of the range.
The A3 Cabriolet trades some practicality for a generous portion of style
Entry-level cars come with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, DAB digital radio for the eight-speaker stereo and air-conditioning. In 2016 standard equipment grew to include auto lights and wipers, xenon headlights and cruise control
The A3 Cabriolet marks a significant improvement over the old model, and ranks as one of the finest non-sporty convertibles you can buy for under £30,000.
As long as you don’t expect sportscar-sharp handling, and don’t regularly transport six-foot folk in the back then you won’t find a real rival with the same quality feel. The closest competitor is Volkswagen’s Beetle Cabriolet, but that can’t match the A3’s equipment offering, refined driving experience or premium look.
The A3 Cabriolet rides well for a car that’s had its roof structure removed, although you do still get some movement through the chassis over bumpier roads.
The A3 is a nice car to drive in isolation but, if you wanna have fun – you want a BMW 2 Series
The A3 Cabriolet is available with three diesel and three petrol options, which pretty much cover all the bases when it comes to offering fuel economy and performance.
In the Convertible model, the 150hp, 1.4-litre petrol seems to be the way to go – with the roof down it’s easier on the ears than the diesels and doesn’t pump out quite as many noxious fumes. It’s a clever engine, with the ability to turn off half of its cylinders off, when they’re not needed, to save fuel. You’ll struggle to notice when the systems working but it helps the 1.4 return fuel economy of 56.5mpg, despite it having a heady top speed of 138mph. It’s this mix of power and performance that makes it preferable to the less-economical 2.0-litre model.
If you really want to limit running costs only a diesel will do and, with fuel economy of 65.7mpg, the 1.6-litre diesel is the cheapest of the lot to run. But it’s also quite slow – somewhat at odds with the sporty-convertible theme. That can be rectified by choosing one of the 2.0-litre models which get from 0-62mph in 8.3 (150hp) or 6.8 seconds (184hp).
However, the ride quality depends on which suspension setup you order. Sport and S line trim levels come with firm springs that lower the car by 15mm, but also make the ride pretty harsh. Even on these trim levels, though, you can opt for the softer SE setup at no extra cost. If you plump for the 296hp, four-wheel-drive S3 Cabriolet you get Audi’s Magnetic Ride that lets you tune the car to your liking.
Few will find the A3 Cabriolet an exciting car to drive fast around corners, but in its role as a warm-weather cruiser, not many cars equal it for the money – the A3 is quiet, even with the roof down. There’s an optional wind deflector that reduces wind noise even more, but it sits across the rear seats, turning the A3 into a two-seater.
The rest of the Audi A3 line-up has been praised for bringing a high-class feel to the entry-level premium car market, and the A3 Cabriolet shares that quality.