In-depth reviews

Audi A3 Cabriolet review (2003-2012)

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is a very capable and likeable car

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Driving Audi says it has stiffened the structure of the open-top A3, but it still lacks rigidity. It is prone to tremors on rough surfaces, which rattle the A-pillars and steering wheel. This harms the car’s overall comfort – suspension is absorbent, but the chassis shakes upset refinement and mean the A3 isn’t as relaxing as it should be. Cruise on a smooth surface, and it’s quiet, although body control and composure suffer elsewhere. That’s a shame, as handling isn’t as incisive as it could be, either. It is nose-heavy, the steering isn’t as sharp and the brakes are soft. However, this is not a major failing, as few people buy convertibles for the driving experience. Luckily, the range of engines is much better, particularly the excellent 2.0-litre TFSI.

Marketplace Fundamentally, apart from the folding soft-top roof, not much has changed over the three-door A3. The cabrio is fractionally longer, yet the width and wheelbase are unaltered, and the bodywork clearly displays this car’s relatively humble origins. New lamp clusters do stand out, but the most striking aspects are the tiny rear deck and huge roof – which seems to have been designed for a much larger car (indeed, it is longer than the roof on the larger A4 Cabriolet). It makes the A3 look top-heavy, and highlights the abrupt tail. 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engines are partnered by 1.9-litre and 2.0-litre TDIs, in a range of standard, Sport or S line trims; ample choice to take on the BMW 1-Series Convertible, Volkswagen Eos, Volvo C70 and Vauxhall Astra TwinTop.

Owning The cabin upholds Audi’s standards for solid build quality. It is ergonomically faultless and a genuinely spacious four-seater. Large side windows mean lots of light and visibility, although the twin roll hoops badly restrict the view out the glass rear window. It is also very refined, proving just once decibel louder than the hatch on the motorway. The hood folds, whisper-quietly, in less than 10 seconds, something that you can do on the move up to 19mph. Open gaps around the sides mean it could be neater, though. A narrow boot opening is awkward to use, but the load area itself is generous. What’s more, Audi has fitted split-fold rear seats. These boost the 260-litre load capacity to 674 litres, and give the A3 the ability to carry 1.5-metre long loads. All engines are economical, and retained values look excellent – although choose the S-tronic semi-auto and a few per centage points are knocked off.

Engines, performance and drive

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MPG, CO2 and Running Costs

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Interior, design and technology

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Practicality, comfort and boot space

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Reliability and Safety

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