Audi revamped its A3 range late in 2016 and we recently published a road test review on the Sportback version (Sportback being Audi speak for five-door hatch), now we’ve just been able to spend a pleasant week in an A3 cabriolet. Life can be tough for we motoring journos at times on these cool summer evenings on the Gold Coast …
The good life was further improved by the S line sports package in our car. At $4200 it adds Alcantara / leather trim, leather bound flat-bottomed steering wheel with shift paddles, and sports suspension with 18-inch alloy wheels,
The single-frame radiator grille is even more sharply edged than ever before. We really like what Audi is doing in this area. The headlights are flatter with distinctive outside edges. The revamping of the rear shape plays on the width of the new A3 with a horizontal lighting set-up and an edge above the revise diffuser.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSION
The heavily revised 2.0-litre TFSI engine has an innovative combustion method. It generates up to 140 kW of power, there’s 320 Nm between 1500 and 4200 rpm.
The A3 cabriolet, with the company’s latest seven-speed S tronic transmission gets from zero to 100 km/h in just 7.0 seconds. Not all that quick in this day and age, but the cabriolet is heavier than the Sportback. In any case this is a cruiser, not a bruiser.
Infotainment and connectivity are excellent, with the Audi MMI Navigation now standard across the range. The new Audi Connect will be in all models within a matter of months, it will be a good idea to check with your favourite Audi dealer before committing to purchase.
The new MMI system has been re-designed, based on contemporary smartphones, with menus and frequently used functions reached in just a few clicks. The main control features a knob and touchpad for entering letters, numbers and, with single or multi-finger gestures, allowing the driver to zoom in on the map.
The innovative Audi virtual cockpit, standard on S3, is now offered on the A3, along with smartphone interface for Apple Carplay and Android Auto, both of which are standard on 2.0 TFSI and up.
You can switch between two views by pressing a button on the steering wheel. In Infotainment mode, a central window dominates the view with space for the navigation map or phone, radio and media lists. The tacho and speedo are displayed as small-dials on the right and left. In sporty mode the dials are are as big as normal instruments and the centre display is smaller.
Matrix LED headlights make night driving almost as safe as daylight. Autonomous emergency braking now works at speeds up to 65 km/h and has pedestrian detection. Then there’s side assist, active lane assist and rear cross-traffic assist, in some models.
The Audi A3 range has a five-star rating from the ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program), it was achieved with ease.
Front seats are well designed and comfortable. The back seats can take adults but it does require fair bit of give and take between the four in the car. Not unusual in any convertible, but the little A3 is better than average for its class.
Audi A3 cabriolet, with its cloth roof in place is almost as quiet inside as a car with a steel roof. The roof is power operated and folds neatly behind the rear seats.
With the roof open there’s surprisingly little wind entry. We do love running at what we call ‘full-convertible’ mode, that is with all the windows down. The open-top A3 does it better than most, much better than quite a few.
Engine response is pretty good, with not too much turbo lag. Once it’s up and running there’s plenty of verve in the way this turbo unit feels. Fuel consumption on the open road was in the six to eight litres per hundred kilometres range. Apparently not all that good, but don’t forget a car loses a lot of its aero effect with the roof down. Around town it generally sat at about seven to nine litres.
The optional sport suspension lowers the body by 15 mm, the electromechanical power steering gains sensitivity and efficiency. It’s not a full on sports machine, nor was it ever intended to be, but there’s plenty of character in the way it feels and responds.
Audi’s drive select handling system integrates accelerator action, power steering effort and automatic transmission change points. Press button control gives you the choice of Auto, Dynamic, Individual or Efficiency modes.
Ride comfort is pretty good for a car with a sporty setup and only the biggest lumps and dips caused it to get a bit excited at times. Road noise on some coarse-chip roads is certainly obvious so if you’re going to be doing a lot of driving on those surfaces make sure you incorporate them in your private pre-purchase road test.
Audi A3 is a gorgeous looking little cabriolet that provides plenty of pleasant cruising if the weather is right, as it was during most of our week’s road testing. It’s pretty well priced for its class and certainly deserves a spot on your short list.
AT A GLANCE
A3 1.4 TFSI 1.4-litre turbo-petrol two-door cabriolet: $49,000 (automatic)
A3 Cabriolet 2.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door cabriolet: $55,000 (automatic)
A3 Cabriolet 2.0-litre turbo-petrol quattro two-door cabriolet: $58,600 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for driveaway prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0-litre turbo-petrol two-door cabriolet)
Capacity: 1.984 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 4200 rpm
Maximum Torque: 320 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 98ROM
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 137 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4313 mm
Wheelbase: 2594 mm
Width: 1785 mm
Height: 1477 mm
Turning Circle: 10.9 metres
Kerb Mass: 1630 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 55 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc
Three years / unlimited km