2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI
There is something about being able to lower the roof of a car and have the wind in your hair and sun on your face that speaks to the pure enjoyment of life.

Sure, you probably won’t be enjoying life that much when you are trying to remove the knots from your hair but that’s a mood spoiler you can leave for later.

Audi’s immensely popular A3 range, one that basically defined the luxury small car segment, also boasts a beautiful Cabriolet which we were happy to put to the test.

Save for a slightly updated grille and bumpers and tweaks to the lights the exterior of the A3 remains closely aligned to the model it replaces.

The fabric roof folds quickly and smoothly and stows cleverly in a boot that is less usable with the roof down but not overly so.

On the inside, the space keeps a minimalistic flavour with the seamless integration of Audi’s trendy Virtual Cockpit a natural talking point. We love the circular air vents and quality fit and finish.

But the black dash with black accents in our test car gave a much more austere impression than was needed. This is a convertible after all people and despite understated being the comfort zone, style really should err on the side of fun, a little frivolity.
Storage options, including two cupholders in the front, are sensible but naturally not overly generous. The boot (260-litres) is oddly shaped to accommodate the roof but is handy enough for a medium-sized grocery shop or a couple of small bags and can extend to 674 litres with the rear seats folded.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI

This A3 range features Audi’s updated MMI infotainment system fronted by a 7.0-inch colour screen and operated by a controller near the gear stick in the centre console. The system itself is pretty intuitive and easy to operate and you can input navigation destinations either by turning the dial or by scrawling your letters on top of it. Graphics quality is good.

There is USB and Bluetooth connectivity and it is super easy to pair your phone and access your music.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a $650 option on some variants, was standard in our 2.0TFSI.

The A3 Cabriolet is available in three guises – a 1.4-litre petrol cylinder-on-demand, a 2.0-litre TFSI and a 2.0-litre quattro – with a new seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic suspension.

Our turbocharged 2.0 TFSI has 140kW and 320Nm at its disposal which sees the Cabriolet move briskly about its business. The S-tronic transmission, which sends drive to the front wheels, is geared for efficiency lower down in the range and power higher up when smarter acceleration is needed.

This car scores a five star ANCAP rating which is reassuring for buyers who love the dream a cabriolet sells but are less certain on safety.

Standard fare includes a high-strength structure, seven airbags, traction and stability control, autonomous emergency braking and forward collision alert.

An Assistance Package adds the extra reassurance that comes with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, high beam assist and hill hold assist and is well worth the extra $1500.

Leather sports seats offer both comfort and support and some room to stretch out – for the front seat occupants that is. Those in the back are much more restricted in movement and as I did with my little people you will have to rely on the thrill of an open top to distract them.

The A3 Cabriolet offers the sort of relaxed, composed drive that you should expect from a car of this ilk. It is the kind of no-fuss exercise that makes driving such an enjoyable experience and if the sun smiles on you and you can lower the roof – happy days.

Acceleration is smooth for the most part with a little more urgent input if you need quicker reactions while the rigid construction supports nifty handling.

It sticks to the road, this Cabriolet, with a confident blend of comfort and performance thanks to an astutely tuned suspension. It feels balanced and capable with brakes that work predictably well even in the wet.

The cloth roof does a good job of dulling the road noise when it is up and when it is down, well, the deflector helps with the wind a bit, but you are hardly going to complain about that.

This A3 is also equipped with all the niceties that complement a relaxed drive including dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, reverse camera and sensors.

Audi claim fuel efficiency in this A3 line-up has also been improved a with brochure figures for the Cabriolet at 6.0L/100km. Our combined average after a week hovered around the 8.1L/100km mark but that was a fair bit of fun driving thrown in.

Audi A3 Cabriolet is supported by a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and three years roadside assist. A three-year/45,000km servicing package can be purchased for $1700 with service intervals at 12 months or 15,000km.

As a range Audi’s A3 offering has much to recommend it with excellent safety and features and composed driving performance. The Cabriolet may be the niche part of that equation but it is heaps of fun and worth considering if you want to give understated and efficient that playful touch.

Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI

Price: from $55,000 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Power: 115kW at 4000rpm
Torque: 320Nm between 1500 – 4000rpm
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch auto, FWD
Fuel use: 6.0L/100km
Safety: Five Star ANCAP

What we liked:
Balance between comfort and dynamics
Fun factor
Safety suite

What we didn’t like:
Slightly cramped conditions
Conservative looks

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