Long-term tests

Audi A3 Cabrio: 14,095 miles

THIRD REPORT: We’re loving the fact we can get the top down on our Audi at every opportunity, no matter what the weather...

  • The A3 Cabriolet is still a rare sight. I’ve spotted only four others, yet it’s been on sale for more than a year. Driving it feels like being in an exclusive club! Our car’s white paintwork and red roof also help it to stand out from the convertible crowd.
  • Scuttle shake – this is partly due to the state of the roads after the harsh winter, but it’s become more obvious of late. Also, the hands-free Bluetooth system won’t connect to my phone.

Spring is in the air, but the longer days won’t mean more time with the roof down in our Audi A3 Cabrio – as I already take every opportunity to get the hood off.

I’m not sure why I keep getting funny looks from other motorists, though. It could be the fact that I’ve had the lid down in sub-zero temperatures. Or it could be down to the ridiculous clothing I wear to keep warm.

I don’t care, though, because I’m just doing what all cabrio owners should. I’m amazed at the number of soft-tops I see with their hoods firmly shut. Why do some people buy them and never fold the roof down?

The Audi lessened the pain of some recent chilly mornings with a powerful cabin heater and warmed seats, both of which helped to keep me cosy. However, the flimsy wind deflector broke as I was trying to fit it, so I wasn’t quite as snug as I might have been.

Even I wasn’t tempted to drop the top in the snowy conditions that enveloped the country earlier in the year, though. The A3’s front wheels struggled to find any traction in the icy weather and, on closer inspection, the front tyres were down to the wear indicators.

I ordered a pair of replacements and had them fitted by Walton Kwik-Fit, in Surrey, at a cost of £268. I was still surprised to see the original Pirellis last for only 12,500 miles, though.

The Audi has suffered a few minor skirmishes beyond usual wear and tear. Some mindless idiot has scratched the rear panel so badly it will require more than a polish to repair.

And an over-zealous Porsche driver came straight at me when he failed to spot the mini roundabout directly ahead of him. I took evasive action to avoid a collision, but a sickening grinding noise as I brushed the kerb told me I had paid the price for it.

The classy alloys bore the ugly scars until my knight in a Shine! smart repair van arrived to remove them (visit www.taketheweekendoff.com). The firm’s polite and prompt technician matched the finish perfectly and now the wheels look as good as new.

In the cabin, the optional Nappa leather is beginning to fade. A £1,200 extra, it gives the Audi a striking appearance with the roof down, but all that sunlight is clearly taking its toll, as there’s now a pink tinge emerging in the rear.

The appalling state of the roads after the snow and ice melted has highlighted another weakness. Scuttle shake in the cabrio was always apparent, but it was never intrusive. Now, the increasingly rough tarmac sends shudders through the cabin.

These issues aren’t enough to put me off Audi’s baby drop-top though. I enjoy its exclusivity and the reactions from other road users. It’s a real Marmite car, as people seem to love it or hate it – and I love it!

Second Opinion

Lesley has taken to driving the A3 with the roof down no matter what, but ‘normal’ people who keep the roof up when it’s cold can appreciate the quality of the fabric top. Noise insulation is superb, although rear visibility isn’t as good as in the A3 hatch.

- Dean Gibson

Senior sub editor

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