Ian Robertson gets behind the wheel of the Audi A3 Cabriolet with the 1.9-litre TDI engine up front to decide whether it’s all show and no go
The conversion from hatchback to soft-top is neat and suits the shape well. It’s backed up by a high class cabin, using quality materials throughout. In S-line trim as tested, the sports seats are supportive and comfortable, with plenty of adjustment available to get the perfect position. Like most open-tops, rear visibility is poor with the roof up, and boot space is on the meagre side, with a narrow opening. The rear seats do fold down to increase carrying capacity and versatility, though.
Make no mistake, this is not a performance car, and if you’re after tyre-shredding pace, then you need to look elsewhere. The 1.9-litre TDI engine develops a mild 104bhp which feels just about adequate out on the road. Handling is a strong point, with plenty of feel from the steering, good turn in and lots of grip. Compared to more modern engines, refinement is disappointing, with above average noise, which becomes all the more apparent with the hood down.
The A3 Cabriolet has few direct rivals. There are cheaper offerings like Peugeot’s 207 CC, or larger ragtops like the Ford Focus CC and Volkswagen Eos, but few offer an entry level diesel engine for those that want show and not-much go. Only Peugeot’s upcoming 308 CC offers a similar power output. Then there’s more powerful alternatives from BMW – at a price.
In S-line trim that we tested, the A3 Cabriolet is treated to 18-inch alloy wheels, half leather sports seats, a multi-function sports leather steering wheel as well as the obligatory S line appearance pack, consisting of a deeper front bumper, chrome foglight surrounds and re-profiled rear bumper. Whether that is worth the £1,515 extra that you would pay is down to individual choice, but we would be inclined stick with the lower-specced Sport trim. You still get alloy wheels, albeit 17-inch, an MP3 compatible CD player, front foglights, dual zone climate control and an electric hood, but the asking price is £22,480 instead of almost £24k.
RIVALS: BMW 118d M SPORT CONVERTIBLE, PEUGEOT 207 CC GT HDi 110, PEUGEOT 308 CC SE HDi 110
- Engine: 1896cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 5-speed manual
- Max Power: 104bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 184lb ft at 1,900rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,700kg
- Combined Consumption: 55.4mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 134g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 12.3secs
- Max speed: 115mph
- Insurance group: 11
Nice to drive, classy dashboard, quality interior, good looks
Visibility could be better with the roof up, on the pricey side, engine unrefined
With Easter now behind us, it’s fast forward to the summer, where us Brits are ever optimistic of great weather. For most that doesn’t matter, as the UK is still the biggest market in Europe for soft-tops, despite the weather being hit and miss. The trend for metal roofed CC’s has been shunned by Audi for its A3 Cabrio, instead preferring the less weighty option and employing a canvas roof