Audi A3 Cabriolet review
The Audi A3 Cabriolet is now based on the saloon model, making it bigger than ever, but it’s expensive
For its latest Audi A3 Cabriolet, the firm has switched from using a hatchback bodystyle to the recently launched A3 saloon. That means the cabriolet is bigger than before, so there’s more space inside and in the boot. It’s always been expensive, but, this time around, Audi has added engines and tech from its larger cars to justify the prices charged. The Cabrio is 50kg lighter than the car it replaces, too, boosting efficiency.
Key to the A3 Cabriolet’s appeal is its folding roof. A new design, the roof opens at the touch of a button in around 18 seconds. Usefully, this can be done at speeds of up to 31mph – perfect when the British weather takes a turn for the worse. The top is also very good at keeping road and wind noise out.
You can see our video review of the Audi A3 Saloon, which the A3 Cabriolet is based on, below.
Our choice: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI SE
Convertibles are all about style, and the Audi A3 Cabriolet’s switch from hatchback to saloon bodystyle has only helped its sharp looks. The oversized front grille can look a bit bling, but the sharp creases in the bodywork look great.
The boot’s extra length helps the proportions, too, ensuring that the A3 Cabriolet looks just as good with the top up as it does down. Inside, the A3 borrows the same interior as the rest of the A3 range. It’s quite minimalist, with most controls operating via a large, central screen which rises from the dash when you start the engine.
Driving the Audi A3 Cabriolet is a game of two halves. Top up, it’s extremely quiet and refined – especially if you opt for the mid-spec Sport or top of the range S line models. These get three extra layers of fleece insulation in the hood, which does a great job smothering engine and road noise.
When the sun comes out, a small switch in the centre console drops the canvas top into a compartment above the boot in a little under 20 seconds. Usefully, you can do this at speeds of up to 31mph. With the side windows up, and the collapsible but unattractive wind deflector clipped into place above the rear seats, wind buffeting is minimal - although you do notice what a good job the roof was doing of keeping noise down. If it’s cold, the optional hot air blowers, mounted in the top of each seat back, keep your neck nice and warm.
The Audi A3 Cabriolet is lighter than before, but it doesn’t feel much stiffer. There’s a noticeable wobble from the rear-view mirror, and while the steering remains linear and accurate, you can feel the wheel moving around in your hands.
Folding roof aside, all of the A3 Convertible's components have been proven in other models. However, when it comes to reliability, the Audi A3's 110th place finish in the 2013 Driver Power survey's top 150 cars shows that its owners aren't totally satisfied with it.
Euro NCAP has yet to test the new car, but it should match the three-door’s five-star rating, as it comes with seven airbags, stability control and Isofix child seat mountings as standard. Optional active safety kit includes blind spot and lane keep warning, adaptive cruise and a parking camera. All models have an electric parking brake.
Buying a convertible often involves a compromise in terms of practicality. The A3 Cabriolet is 28mmm wider and 183mm longer than its predecessor, and that means boot space has increased. It’s now 275 litres with the roof down, and 320 litres with the roof closed – and increase of 60 litres.
Up front, headroom isn’t compromised by the new canvas top, although you do notice that the screen’s pillars seem more prominent than usual, as they’re beefed up to withstand a roll-over impact. Rear seat space is pretty tight for both head and legroom, although the two rear seats are sculpted into a comfy shape.
The A3 Cabriolet arrives in the UK in April, but the launch is staggered, so only the 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre TFSI petrols and 148bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel will be offered from that date. The diesel has the best economy, at 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km, but it’s a bit noisy.
The 1.8 petrol is a strong performer, but we’d recommend the 1.4 petrol. It has cylinder on demand tech, which helps return fuel economy of 56.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 114g/km, yet performance is still good – 0-62mph takes 9.1 seconds. A 1.6-litre TDI, 2.0-litre TDI with 181bhp and a flagship S3 model join the range later.
A three-year fixed price service plan is available for £399, and you can extend the three-year warranty by one or two more years.