Audi’s new ‘third generation’ A3 cabriolet has dropped its top in time for summer.
The car’s key feature is the ultra lightweight magnesium-steel kinematic mechanism, which raises and lowers the fabric roof in just under 18 seconds – even while traveling up to 31 mph.
Derived from Audi’s A3 Saloon, the new Cabrio comes kitted out in three different trim levels: SE, Sport and S line. All models get a black electric hood, 16-inch alloys, air-con, Audi Music Interface with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity and auto wipers and lights.
Along with larger 18-inch wheels and sports seats, Sport and S line also adds an Adaptive Dynamics system, incorporating five different modes to tailor the car’s character.
Safety-wise the A3 Cabrio is expected to score the same high 5 star rating as its tin-top sibling. To counter the lack of a rigid roof, the Cabrio gets an active rollover protection system.[portfolio_slideshow]
To drive the A3 Cabrio is capable and surefooted, if a bit unexciting – in this 1.4 TFSI cylinder on demand (CoD) anyway. Obviously with 140 PS it’s no GTi, but the small turbo motor musters enough oomph for decent progress to be had – aided by the six-speed box which takes advantage of the available power and there isn’t any noticeable turbo-lag. Despite the 9.1 second 0-62 time, a good economy figure of 56.5mpg is returned, while emissions are impressively low for petrol too, at 114g/km of CO2.
Audi’s aren’t typically as fun to drive as some of their closest German rivals and the steering, despite being accurate and responsive, could do with a bit more in the way of feel.
Soft tops can often feel less composed and agile than there tin-top counterparts, but this isn’t the case here. Aside from the faintest traces of body-flex, or scuttle shake (evident on nearly all convertibles), this rag-top Audi feels every bit as sharp and composed as the saloon, featuring good body control, grip and turn-in.
In the cabin there’s decent comfort and adjustability for the driver and front passenger, who are treated to enough space, but things in the rear are more restricted – taller rear occupants will especially find leg room a bit of a pinch.
The new roof design has freed up additional boot space, however: there’s now 320 litres – a considerable improvement on the old car’s rather pokey 260 litres.
True to Audi’s form, quality of trim, switchgear and fit and finish is very high. This car also gets Audi’s latest MMI infotainment system, which now uses easier-to-use toggle switches in place of shortcut buttons.
Refinement levels are a marked improvement on the old car, further aided by the sound-absorbent acoustic fabric roof – standard on Sport and S line trim.
It might be on the pricey side, but the new Audi A3 Cabriolet builds on the success of its predecessor, proving to be a capable and highly desirable small touring convertible.
Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI Sport with CoD 140 PS
Engine: 1.4-litre turbo petrol
List Price: £27,015
Model as tested: £32,065
Torque: 184lb ft
0-62mph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 135mph
Fuel economy: 56.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 114g/km
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