The UK is emerging from one of the wettest winters ever, so what better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than to get behind the wheel of a new convertible? Just in time for the top-down season, Audi has launched its new A3 Cabriolet.
As with the A3 hatch, the convertible is bigger than the car it replaces. This means more passenger space and added practicality, while a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines offers frugal open-air thrills.
Facing up to the A3 is the Vauxhall Cascada. We try 1.4-litre petrol turbo versions of both, with the A3 in mid-spec Sport trim and the Cascada in flagship Elite spec. The Vauxhall has more kit and a £340 price advantage, but the A3 claims stronger performance and economy. So which is better for having fun in the sun?
Click on the links above to read each review and then read on for our full verdict.
Both cars feature fabric tops that can be operated at speeds of up to 30mph, but the Vauxhall has an advantage as its roof is faster to open and close.
When fixed in place, the Audi’s standard-fit three-layer acoustic hood doesn’t let in as much noise as the Cascada’s standard fabric top. However, our Vauxhall came with the £300 optional acoustic roof, which does just as good a job at reducing noise.
There are a few more options available on the A3 Cabriolet than the Cascada, with kit such as LED lights, Alcantara seats, magnetic ride dampers, self parking and head-level heating all on offer. But what’s frustrating is that the wind deflector is a £290 option – this should be standard on all cabrios.
Both cars are more suited to cruising than hard cornering, but the Audi has an edge over the Vauxhall because it’s smoother and more comfortable on the road. Its torquier engine means it’s better for overtaking, too.
It’s more expensive than the Cascada, but the A3 Cabriolet is well worth the extra outlay. It’s more comfortable, has better performance and feels like a classy product with the roof up or down. We just wish stingy Audi would at least chuck in a free wind deflector.
The long kit list makes the Cascada an attractive proposition, as do the soft ride and strong refinement. And while it’s not as classy as the Audi, the Vauxhall’s cabin still has a quality feel. The car’s just let down by a breathless engine and steep running costs.
|Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI Sport||Vauxhall Cascada 1.4T Elite|
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£27,015/£32,065||£26,675/£26,675|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)||£13,751/50.9%||£11,201/42.0%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£809/£1,618||£1,165/£2,330|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£2,199/£3,665||£2,088/£3,481|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||23/£291/C/£30||21/£317/F/£145|
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service||£399 (3yrs/30k)||£190/£240/£190|
|Engine||4cyl in-line/1,395cc||4cyl in-line/1,364cc|
|Peak power||138/5,000 bhp/rpm||138/4,900 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque||250/1,500 Nm/rpm||200/1,850 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||6spd man/fwd||6spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||50 litres/space saver||56 litres/repair kit|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||320/678 litres||380/750 litres|
|Roof up/down (incl. windows)||21/24 seconds||15/22 seconds|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.9 metres/0.30Cd||11.8 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/3yrs||3yrs (60,000)/1yr|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||Variable/12||20k miles (1yr)/404|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||10th/23rd||26th/18th|
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars||95/87/74/5 (A3 hatch)||N/A|
|0-60/30-70mph||9.4/9.2 secs||10.6/10.1 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||4.3/5.8 secs||5.1/7.7 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||8.3/9.8 secs||10.0/12.3 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||135mph/2,400rpm||129mph/2,600rpm|
|Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph||60/40/63/71dB||62/44/64/71dB|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||32.1/7.1/353 miles||33.8/7.4/416 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||203/114g/km/14%||193/148g/km/21%|
|Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control||No/yes/£225||No/yes/yes|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||Yes/£1,115/£260||Yes/yes/yes|
|Met. paint/xenons/wind deflector||£525/£1,100/£290||£525/£790/yes|