Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review

Spring in Auckland is quite the mixed bag weatherwise. One day, driving wind and rain, the next driving wind and rain, and so on. But occasionally you get a stunner, and I was lucky to get that – for just one day – while the new A3 was parked in the Car and SUV driveway.

The best thing that has happened to the A3 cabriolet over the old model is the introduction of another model to the range – the sedan. Having that pen-work already done means Audi was able to make the car look and function more like its almost-iconic A4 cabriolet – and now that model is gone bridge the gap to the A5 drop-top.

Rather than the clumsy looking hatch based version, the car looks far more balanced, and it gets a bigger boot… to boot.

The rear seats are not quite as usable of course, but for some the question may be whether to stump for the bigger A4 drop top, or save some cash to spend on extras for an A3.

Power:

14 Audi A3 cab front 3:4Audi’s 1.8-litre TFSI powers the standard A3 Cabriolet – there is  an S3 with a more powerful 2.0-litre available as well. It puts out 132kW, and 250Nm of torque. In the cabriolet it feels perky, rather than punchy, and will do a reasonable 7.8 second run to 100km/h.

There is a lot of tech involved in making the engine fuel efficient. It is capable of deactivating cylinders number two and three when they are not needed – effectively becoming a two-cylinder. The result, 5.8-litres per 100km. It also carries auto stop/start and brake force energy recuperation.

Drive is front wheel drive, with Volkswagen-Audi’s ubiquitous seven-speed DSG transmission doing service. Paddle shifts are standard.

 

Inside:

14 Audi A3 cab interiorInside you can expect the same clean-design interior as other A3 models. Simple elegant lines, and paired down controls.

The focus has shifted from legions of buttons, to a few basic HVAC controls, on the centre of the dash.

The real focus is on Audi’s Multi Media Interface system – a panel of buttons, switches and a control dial between the seats, operating pretty much anything you need to do without much of a glance.

I have used multiple generations of MMI through the years and it has improved to a rather slick system.

 

Spec:

14 Audi A3 Cab Nav screen$69,990 may seem a big ask for an A3, but Audi has given the car a fairly extensive specification list to at least partially compensate.

Aside from all the tech listed above, you get 17-inch alloys, heated mirrors, the MMI system with full iPod, USB and MP3 integration,  cruise control, sports seats, but with fabric trim, parking sensors, a review camera and a leather sports steering wheel.

No point in listing all of the safety features – it has everything.

The fabric roof is electrically-operated, and it can also be opened and closed on the move.

 

Drive:

14 Audi A3 Cab rear 3:4Despite being heavier than a standard A3, the cabriolet still feels relatively light and nimble. Grip is good, ride is excellent and the chassis feels solid despite the roof chop.

If there is a criticism, it is that I link drop-tops to being sporty, and while the steering is responsive, it is light and just lacks feel.

Audi’s Drive Select, which adjusts transmission, steering and engine response between a range of Comfort to Sports settings is nice to have, but I find it a little ineffective and pointless – outside of the S-models- where it comes into its own.

 

 

Verdict:

There is never going to be a huge market for small cabriolets in New Zealand, but for those who are looking for something at the more practical end with a premium badge, it will be hard choice to go past.

For very keen drivers, there is an S3 cabriolet to keep you away from BMW’s 2-Series.

The biggest competition comes from close to home, with Volkswagen’s Golf cabriolet, some $24,000 cheaper.

Price: $69,990

Pros:

  • Decent boot space
  • Roof can be opened or closed on the move
  • Looks better than its predecessor

Cons:

  • Not so decent rear leg room
  • Steering lacks feel

Words and pictures:

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