New Car Awards 2014: best convertible

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is the 2014 Auto Express Convertible of the Year, with the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Porsche 911 Cab commended

Style, substance and sunshine thrills – the Audi A3 Cabriolet has it all. Based on the already excellent A3 hatch, the elegant drop-top version is as close to a zero-compromise convertible as you’ll get. For starters it looks great, roof up or down, plus the classy, beautifully built cabin is one of the best in the business.

You can lower the powered fabric roof at up to 31mph, and once it’s stowed you’ll be treated to plenty of wind-in-the-hair thrills - although the steeply raked screen means you’re not blown about too much.

Best convertible cars

When the British weather takes a turn for the worse you can be back under canvas in around 18 seconds, while Audi’s clever three-layer hood construction provides the sort of snug refinement you’d expect from a conventional coupe. Plus, as the roof is a traditional fabric set-up, once it’s folded the mechanism doesn’t eat into luggage space.

Happily, Audi hasn’t taken any half measures when it comes to chopping the top off the A3, meaning the bodyshell is very nearly as strong and stiff as the hatch’s. That means you get the same agile handling, rock-steady composure and cushioned ride as the standard car. Even on the most punishingly rough roads, the Audi remains free of any unnerving shake, rattle and roll.

Audi A3 Cabriolet 2014 interior

Other highlights include the desirable line-up of familiar petrol and diesel engines, plus the option of the brand’s slick-shifting S tronic twin-clutch gearbox. Pick of the powerplants is the smooth 1.4-litre TSI petrol, which provides just the right blend of punchy performance and low running costs.

Classy, beautifully constructed and cost-effective to run, the A3 Cabriolet is a car that appeals on every level.

Our choice 

A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI SE (£25,790)

The entry-level SE version of the A3 Cabriolet is well equipped and stylish, plus its softer suspension delivers a supple ride. Clever 1.4-litre TFSI engine features cylinder-on-demand tech for power and economy.

Commended convertibles

BMW 4 Series Convertible

It’s got a new number and sharper looks, but the new BMW 4 Series Convertible retains all the qualities that made its 3 Series predecessor such a hit – and a former Auto Express New Car Awards winner. There’s the same folding metal hard-top, plus a range of fast and frugal engines and engaging rear-wheel-drive handling.

Porsche 911 Cabriolet

Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet front cornering

Continuous development has meant the drop-top 911 is now every bit as sharp to drive as its coupe counterpart, plus it features the same practical 2+2 seating layout and fabric roof that’s as refined as a tin-top when in place. With it lowered, you’ll be even closer to the legendary wailing flat-six engine.

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