The Audi A3 Cabriolet was launched in direct competition to the BMW 1-Series Convertible. It promises versatility with a range of engines and clever folding rear seats increasing the luggage area to 674 litres. The Audi A3′s fabric folding roof opens in just 11 seconds and keeps the price competitive while leaving excellent luggage space. The convertible Audi A3 has sleek understated lines and the with the soft-top, the traditional look of a convertible car. The suspension is supple but taut enough to keep you feeling in control while the optional Sport version has a firmer set up which is a pleasure to drive while not being at all harsh. Unusually the A3 had competition from the same Manufacturer – the VW Golf Cabriolet – a car with which it shares many components.
The small proportions make it easy to live with around town and when you get the chance to escape from the city and drop the roof it surprises with entertaining handling and plenty of grip. Quattro all-wheel-drive was not available on this model, but it seems to do very well without it.
The power-operated fabric roof works effortlessly and does a good job of keeping road noise and weather out.
The small engine in the base model Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.2 TFSI is an improvement over the lacklustre old 1.6 but still feels a bit pedestrian next to the more capable 1.8. It does, however, benefit from plenty of torque which makes short work of overtaking slow traffic. It cruises along quietly on the open road and its light weight means that it can be fun when thrown around a few bends. The main benefit of this model, however, is the fuel economy which is very impressive for this premium feeling small convertible.
The Audi 1.8 litre TFSI engine is an excellent performer that is so smooth and quiet it is hard to believe there is a turbo-charger tucked away giving the extra boost when needed. There is ample power on tap and the convertible Audi A3 feels eager to have fun on a windy back road.
While many european buyers of the Audi A3 Cabriolet opt for the more economical diesels the most entertaining engine is the 2 litre turbocharged diect fuel injection engine more commonly seen in the Golf GTI. With 200 horsepower available it can boast hot-hatch performance while keeping Audi's elegance and refinement. Once up to speed and heading out on a long run the A3 settles down and comfortably munches up the miles with the capable engine making overtaking easy when required. The clever engine technology also allows it to be careful when it comes to economy and emissions.
The VW Audi Group have built a huge quantity of these 2-litre diesel engines and for good reason. It is a great compromise between performance and economy performing well on both counts. Many drivers will still struggle with the idea of a diesel engine in a convertible car but as fuel prices continue to increase it is easy to warm to them. The Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI does feel a little bit too sensible when you drive it, but many drivers will consider this as the only option for their lifestyle.