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Car reviews - Audi - A3 - Cabriolet range

Overview

Audi sticks to a (part) fabric roof for its competitive premium A3 Cabrio

25 Jul 2008

AUDI has jumped into its metaphorical Delorean and sped back to the future for its new compact convertible. The A3 Cabrio is akin to Volkswagen's late and lamented original Golf Cabriolet, with its appealing style and no-nonsense all-weather fabric roof, creating an upmarket four-seater sun-seeker that can be used every day without the compromises that inflict the folding hard-top mob. Yet with a pair of sweet turbo engine options, responsive dynamics and high levels of safety and refinement, this is still very much a new-age Audi – without the hard ride and dull steering. Unexpectedly, we’ve come away charmed, so if you’re considering a Mini Cabrio, VW Eos, BMW 120i Convertible, Saab 9-3, Volvo C70 or even Audi A4 Convertible, then it might be worth your while giving the new A3 Cabriolet a punt.

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Model release date: 1 July 2008 to 1 June 2014

Previous model

VW MkIV Golf Cabriolet

Released: October 1998
Ended: March 2003
Family Tree: A3

Audi won’t like this, but the A3 Cabrio is really the spiritual successor to the second-generation Golf Cabriolet that was based on the MkIII Golf, and which – in this iteration – gained a MkIV-like snout and some interior bits to stay fresh for the New Millennium. And except for the Golf’s signature rollover hoop, the Audi very much uses the same blueprint – a relatively spacious and useable four-seater convertible with a deceptively large boot, a hardy and easy-to-use fabric roof, and a choice of two four-cylinder petrol engines (in this case an anaemic 66kW/145Nm 1.8-litre for the CL and 85kW/166Nm 2.0-litre for the GL Cabrio). Gearbox choices were limited to a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Safe, solid and hardwearing, the Golf Cabrio punched above its weight at a time before the folding hard-top convertibles such as the Peugeot 307 CC and Renault Megane CC hi-jacked the segment. Indeed, the Karmann-built original started the whole small convertible thing in 1979.

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