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Audi A3 Cabriolet road test report

Audi A3 Cabriolet

The A3 Cabriolet is the third convertible in Audi’s model range. A compact four-seater, it’s aimed at buyers with lower incomes than TT Roadster or A4 Cabriolet owners. It’s a microcosm of everything owners like about an Audi: stylish, well-engineered, practical and fun to drive, it’s a solid driving machine that most convertible buyers owners would be more than happy to own. The range comes with four engines – two petrol and two diesel – and two trim levels. Audi anticipates that the bigger diesel will be the volume seller, with nearly half of all sales. Prices range start at £20,740.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Audi A3 Cabriolet

Image number 2 of the Audi A3 CabrioletImage number 3 of the Audi A3 CabrioletImage number 4 of the Audi A3 Cabriolet

Performance Performance - 4 stars

If you're looking for economy, the A3’s diesels should suit you perfectly. They're still not as refined as some others on the market, with a tell-tale clatter on start-up. However, both the 1.9 TDI (103bhp and 184lb-ft) and the 2.0 TDI (138bhp and 236lb-ft) pull well and offer plenty of torque, reaching 62mph in 12.3 secs and 9.7 secs (9.4 with the S-Tronic auto 'box), respectively. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something a little more refined, the two TFSI petrol engines are what you should go for. The more powerful 2.0 TFSI generates 197bhp and 206lb-ft of torque, which propels the car to 62mph in 7.4 secs (7.3 with S-Tronic). However, we feel the 1.8 TFSI offers the best compromise of fun and good sense: 157bhp, 184lb-ft and 0-62mph in 8.2secs (8 dead with the S-Tronic auto 'box) makes for an enjoyable open-top cruise.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

The A3 Cabrio will no doubt find a large and appreciative audience, as it’s nimble and fun to drive. It certainly does the job on the road: it grips and holds the road well; the steering is precise and accurate, which is particularly noticeable when chucking it into bends on twisting, turning roads; and the gear changes are snappy (and, with the excellent S-Tronic automatic transmission, instantaneous). True, the steering does lack a bit of feel, but this is, ultimately, a cruiser rather than a sports car in the Porsche Boxster mould, so it’s only to be expected. The ride quality is also good: comfortable and compliant, it soaks up bumps and surface imperfections in the road in an efficient manner. The chassis is also well resolved for a convertible, with none of the flexing that you sometimes find with a drop-top, and scuttle shake is minimal.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 4 stars

The A3 Cabrio looks to have been built to Audi’s usual high standards and uses quality materials throughout. True, there have been reports of problems with leaking radiators, clutches and the timing belts on 2.0 TDI versions of the A3, but revisions to the entire model range in the last year should have resolved these issues. There's no question of Audi's quality, though. Generally recognised as being the masters of the car interior, the company has maintained its high standards in the A3 Cabrio, with everything fitting together well and coming in soft-touch plastics, with accents in materials such as aluminium. The exterior displays the same level of quality, with consistent panel gaps across the car, doors that give a satisfying 'thunk' on closing and a two- or three-layer acoustic fabric roof (depending on trim level) that allows only 1dB of extra sound in the cabin, compared to the A3 hatch.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The A3 Cabrio hasn’t been independently crash tested by Euro NCAP, but it’s solidly built and, as it is based on the A3 hatchback, we expect it to have a similar level of safety - a four-star rating for adult protection, with three stars for child protection and a single star for pedestrian protection. Indeed, as a newer model, it’s arguably closer the new A4, which has a 93% rating in the new Euro NCAP tests. The Cabrio comes with the full complement of active and passive safety equipment, including ESP with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), ABS, airbags (driver, passenger and side), Isofix child seat mountings, tyre pressure monitors, adaptive front lights and daytime running lights. The A3 range has been awarded the Association of British Insurers (ABI) 'Best in Class' Security rating and the Cabrio should do nothing to undermine that, thanks to its Thatcham Category 1 alarm.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

Comfort is something that Audi is renowned for, with the A3 Cabrio maintaining that reputation. Finding a good driving position is easy, with multi-adjustable seats and a steering wheel that has reach and rake adjustment. One of the other things that we looked for, especially after testing the BMW’s 1-Series Convertible, was space in the back. With an average-sized (5' 10") driver, there was enough room for adults and plenty for kids. This is in spite of a shorter wheelbase than the Beemer and is possible, in part, due to the folding fabric roof, which takes up little bootspace, allowing more room in the cabin. Talking of bootspace, at 260 litres it's adequate if not generous (and is identical to the BMW), unless you drop the two rear seats, which helps it expand to 674 litres, big enough for larger cases and even sports equipment such as golf bags or skis.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 3 stars

The petrol engines are efficient, the 1.8 TFSI returning fuel consumption of 38.6mpg (37.1 for the S-Tronic) and the 2.0 TFSI giving 37.1mpg. CO2 emissions for the petrol models are 174g/km (180) and 182g/km (181), putting them in Band E. The diesels are more frugal, with the 1.9 TDI running at 55.4mpg and the 2.0 TDI at 53.3mpg (50.4mpg S-Tronic). CO2 figures of 134g/km for the 1.9 and 139g/km (148) put both in Band C. Service intervals are good, with oil changes at 9,000-19,000 miles and 19,000-mile service increments. However, many owners are likely to be urbanites, so the wear and tear of stop-start traffic might reduce these figures. And servicing won't be cheap, as Audi dealers tend to charge a premium. Residuals should remain fairly high for the A3 Cabrio, as the desirability of a small premium convertible combined with the Audi badge should mean lots of second-hand demand.

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