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Car reviews - Audi - A3 - Cabriolet TFSI

Our Opinion

We like
Quattro all-wheel drive, great looks, fast folding roof at up to 50km/h, refined and well appointed cabin, rewarding to drive
Room for improvement
Reversing camera and navigation not standard, no spare tyre

Gallery

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Audi logo2 Jul 2015

By RICHARD BERRY

Price and equipment

At $52,200 plus on-road costs, the 1.8TFSI quattro Ambition specification sits in the middle of the five-variant A3 Cabriolet line-up which tops out with the sporty S3 2.0TFSI for $70,500.

The standard features list includes 17-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, leather sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, light and rain sensors, Audi media system with 5.8-inch screen, Drive select and a leather-clad steering wheel with shifting paddles.

You’ll find a tyre repair kit in the boot of the quattro whereas the regular two-wheel drive has a full-size spare wheel.

The Audi’s rivals come in the form of the BMW 220i Convertible for $54,900, the Peugeot 308 CC Allure for $52,990 and the Renault Megane CC from $38,990.

Mercedes-Benz is yet to produce a drop-top version of its CLA, but if it does it will provide stiff competition to the A3 Cabriolet.

Interior

As we reported in our recent review of the A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI while these are the more affordable cars in Audi’s range, they contain many of the elements of more expensive models from the leather-clad steering wheel and seats to the instrument cluster and media system.

It’s a refined, well-appointed and beautifully sophisticated cabin – and it's quiet too, even with the fabric roof. Of course the cockpit isn’t as silent as that of the sedan, but Audi has ensured that minimal noise filters in – unless it’s raining and then it sounds as though you’re under an umbrella.

That roof can automatically fold itself away in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h – which we had to do when the heavens opened up while we were halfway across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

With the roof up, boot volume is 285 litres, but space decreases with the roof down – although we still managed to fit four shopping bags in without any problems even with the lid tucked away.

Seating in the back can be a little cramped for tall people with head and legroom limited and this 190cm writer was not able to sit comfortable behind his driving position.

Engine and transmission

The 132kW/280Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit under the bonnet of the 1.8 quattro has been tuned to make 30Nm more torque than the same unit in the front-wheel-drive car. That grunt is sent to all four wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Despite the quattro being 110kg heavier than the front driver, it’s able to sprint from 0-100km/h 0.2 seconds faster for a time of 7.6s with Audi claiming an average combined fuel consumption of 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres. Our test vehicle was returning 15.8L/100km, but often there were three people on board and the driver is known to have a foot made of lead.

Ride and handling

With Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system providing great traction, a suspension set up consisting of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link at the rear, plus 280Nm of torque coming in from 1350rpm-4000rpm this is capable little soft-top with impressive handling and a comfortable ride – even on the optional 225/40 R18 92Y Continental Sportcontact 2 low-profile tyres fitted to our car.

Convertibles are sometimes plagued with scuttle shake – a noticeable vibration felt due to a lack of rigidity that a fixed roof brings. However, there’s very little scuttle shake in the A3 cabriolet quattro.

Safety and servicing

The A3 Cabriolet has a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating. Along with ABS, ESC and an electronic differential lock there’s airbags for the driver and front passenger, side front and head level and driver’s knee airbags.

Audi’s three-year/45,000km service plan covers the A3 Cabriolet.

Verdict

The A3 Cabriolet with its sweet 1.8 TFSI engine and quattro all-wheel drive makes for a rewarding driving experience. While boot space is sacrificed, the ability to remove the roof makes this a cool little cruiser. A refined cabin with the quality and elements of higher model cars rounds off a stylish package.

Rivals

BMW 220i Convertible from $54,900, plus on-road costs
The first-ever 220i Convertible arrived earlier this year while its is a direct competitor to the Audi, it offers rear-wheel drive and the roof takes two seconds longer to close, which is unlikely to bother anyone.

Peugeot 308 CC Allure from $52,990 plus on-road costs
Audi too conservative for you? The Pug 308CC is an alternative offering similar grunt in a package with dollops of French flair, but it is getting seriously old.

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