Audi 2015 A3 Sportback e-tron review

June 11th, 2015 by Darren Cottingham

This is the Age of e-tron, to bastardise a movie title. It is Audi’s play into the plug-in hybrid market and it has taken an age for them to bring a car with electric power to New Zealand. Part of the reason is that the real-world fuel economy of a modern diesel can match hybrids if they’re driven over longer distances, but the Audi A3 is more aimed at people that don’t travel that far each day. And, while you can get a diesel A3 in Europe, Audi doesn’t bring it to New Zealand because it would mean too many options for our smaller market. Continue reading “Audi 2015 A3 Sportback e-tron review” »

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review

September 24th, 2014 by Richard Edwards

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. Continue reading “Audi: 2014 A3 1.8 TFSI Cabriolet review” »

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review

June 11th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

audi-s3-sedan-2014-frontYou’d think that getting out of a 221kW Audi S3 and straight into a 132kW A3 might be a bit of a let-down, but it actually wasn’t bad at all.

In comparison to the S3, the A3 gets much nicer throttle mapping for the downshifts and a whole extra gear ratio with 7 on tap from the S Tronic gearbox. The available power from the 1.8-litre turbo engine means 7.3 seconds to 100kph, which is quite respectable and very usable in day-to-day driving.

Continue reading “Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review” »

Audi reveals details on next-generation A3

October 25th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

New details have just been revealed on the upcoming 2012 Audi A3. The new compact model will come in four variants with different dimensions and wheelbase length.

There’s a 3-door hatch and Cabriolet A3 variants which will measure 4.26 meters long (167.7 inches) with a wheelbase of 2.595 meters (102.2 inches). There’s also a 5-door Sportback version and 4-door sedan that will measure 4.44 meters long (174.8 inches) with a 2.630 m (103.5 inches) wheelbase. The widths of all models will be the same.

Audi design chief Stefan Sielaff says the A3 range will be configured in a very similar fashion to the A4 and A5 line-ups. He also said the next Audi A3’s interior will be influenced by the Audi A3 e-tron concept (pictured above) that was introduced at Auto Shanghai earlier this year. Continue reading “Audi reveals details on next-generation A3” »

Audi A3 and S3 facelift

December 16th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham
Driving and static footage

Driving and static footage

Audi planning new A3 variants

March 20th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Audi planning new A3

Audi has pushed back the arrival of its next-model A3 by one year as it tackles the development of several other all-new models such as the A1 hatch and Q3 soft-roader. Originally touted to arrive at the end of the year, the next A3 will now hit the market in the first half of 2010 in a basic three and five-door hatchback models. A little later Audi will add a new Convertible model and Sportback wagon, and according to latest reports there may even be a four-door coupe as well as an Allroad soft-roader.

The stategy is to help the new A3 compete with BMW’s 1-series range as well as other European rivals. The new A3’s platform will again be shared with VW’s Golf, which means Audi’s latest modular platform design has been ruled out. Compared with the current model the replacement A3’s footprint will grow in size with a more raked profile. .

Likely engine options for the A3 range of cars include a series of four-cylinder powerplants ranging from 1.2 to 2.0L in capacity. The base engine will be a 1.2L TFSI with 105hp and 175Nm of torque and this will be followed by a 1.4L TFSI with 125hp and 200Nm of torque and a 1.8L TFSI with 160hp and 250Nm of torque. Rounding out the four-cylinder family will be a 2.0L TFSI with 211hp and 350Nm of torque. For the performance S3 model, expect to see a new turbocharged four-cylinder motor.

Audi A3 FSI Cabriolet S Line 2008 Review

September 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


Summer arrived the day after I picked up the Audi A3 FSI Cabriolet S Line. A perfect weekend, the Saturday spent playing a gig at Ponsonby Market Day and dancing with a transvestite (we’ll leave that story to another day¦unless incriminating pictures appear in other media), and the Sunday spent lazing in the garden before a mid-afternoon jaunt to Orewa, cruising along the waterfront. It was the ideal car both for the Ponsonby Road set, and the beachfront cruise.

However, my lack of opportunities to dance with transvestites, and my usual shunning of the sun due to my inherent inability to tan left me wondering whether I would plump for the cabriolet when the hard top Sportback is a better car both dynamically and practically.

But I’ve got the cabriolet, so it’s best that I give you an honest appraisal of that.

The new A3 was launched at Pukekohe Park Raceway in June at the same time as the quite remarkable TT-S quattro (read the review of the TT-S here). I drove most of the variants except (from memory) the 3.2 quattro at the time around the back roads of the Franklin District, and the improvements over the outgoing A3 (which was a bit tired) were very welcome.

The new A3 features the 118kW/250Nm 1.8-litre turbo mill from parent Volkswagen Group’s range, mated to the fast-changing, six-speed S tronic (DSG) dual-clutch gearbox. This will get you from zero to a messed-up hairstyle in just eight seconds if you leave it to do its thing, or you can control the gears using either the gearstick or the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The A3 is a good-looking car with the soft-top folded down (a process that takes a stupendously quick nine seconds to open and only eleven seconds to close.) The hood will operate at up to 30kph.

This S Line variant has some additional body trim such as 18-inch wheels with 225/45R18 tyres (the standard car gets 17-inch wheels with 205/55R17), S Line badging, sports suspension and sports seating. The remainder of the car is the same, including the performance, with the fuel consumption a sensible 7.6l/100km combined, and 180g/km of CO2.

The usual Audi safety features are present, including ABS, electronic brake force distribution, electronic brake assist, traction control (ASR), electronic differential lock, electronic stability program (ESP), and hill start assist which holds the brakes on for a short while as you engage a gear to stop you rolling back on a hill.

With convertibles there is often a compromise, and it’s usually the boot space and additional road noise. The A3 doesn’t seem to suffer that much from road noise because the roof has noise insulation, but I have a slight change to one of the Bible’s more famous quotes: it’s easier for a camel to go through eye of a needle than it is to get a bulky load into the A3 Cabriolet’s boot. Because of the roof folding mechanism, the boot aperture is impractically small to the point of being annoying because it is not even a foot high. This isn’t a problem for your groceries, but you’ll be using the back seats for more than passengers on some occasions. One consolation is that the rear seats fold forwards so larger (but not taller) loads can be accommodated. The boot lid also requires more of a solid push than you’d expect to get it to close properly.

But you’ll undoubtedly give up a smidge of practicality in return for the joys of roofless motoring. Driving at motorway speeds with the roof down gives a small amount of buffeting — nothing major, as it’s actually better than having the front windows open with the roof up, which gives a noticeable fluttering and more apparent wind noise!

Audi’s speed-dependent power-assisted steering is standard, making for easier manoeuvring at lower speeds. Parking radar is included for the rear, which is an absolute necessity because the rollover protection hoops and rear seat headrests block much of the view through the back window. The Audi A3’s rear seats have a more generous amount of legroom than many cars of this size have in convertible guise — I am a gnat’s kneecap under six-foot and I can sit in the back with enough legroom even when the driver’s seat is also set up for me.

So, four people can be transported in atmospheric admiration, whisked along by the smooth engine, confident in the car’s abilities and safety features. I could go on about how it handles well, how it’s got a good dollop of overtaking power, and how the S tronic gearbox is fabulous as ever. But I think that will fall on uninterested ears. I’ll guarantee that 99.9% of people who buy an A3 Cabriolet won’t care because they won’t be the type of people who like to push a car to the limit.

This is a car aimed at the image-conscious — the type of people who don’t care that a Fiat 500’s suspension is hideous or that the new Mercedes-Benz CLC 200 is based on a seven-year old platform. Nope, they just want an optically pleasant car to cruise the beachfronts, and perhaps return to Ponsonby Road to sip a latte and watch fools like me dance with a transvestite.

Click through to the next page to read the full specifications on the Audi A3 Cabriolet S line.

Price: from $68,900 (S Line), or from $59,500 for the base Cabriolet

What we like

  • Rear seats are functional with plenty of legroom as opposed to token
  • Rear seats fold down to increase load space

What we don’t like

  • Boot aperture isn’t friendly
  • Rearward visibility very restricted
Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI
Engine / electrics
Engine type Inline four-cylinder spark-ignition engine with petrol direct injection, exhaust
turbo-charger with intercooler, 4 valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts
Valve gear / number of valves per cylinder

Chain drive / roller cam followers / 4

Displacement in cc / bore x stroke in mm / compression

1798 / 82.5 x 84.1 / 9.6

Max. power output in kW (bhp) / at rpm

118 (160) / 5000 – 6200

Max. torque in Nm / at rpm

250 / 1500 – 4200

Mixture preparation

Direct injection/fully electronic with drive-by-wire throttle control,
Bosch MED17

Exhaust emission control

Close-coupled ceramic primary catalytic converter and ceramic underfloor catalytic converter with catalyst heating function via homogeneous split dual injection

Emissions class

EU 4

Alternator in A / battery in A/Ah

140 / 280 / 60

Drive / transmission
Drive type

Front-wheel drive


Two electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutches in an oil bath

Gearbox type

6-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox with electro-hydraulic control

Gear ratio in 1st gear / 2nd gear

3.462 / 2.050

Gear ratio in 3rd gear / 4th gear

1.300 / 0.902

Gear ratio in 5th gear / 6th gear

0.914 / 0.756

Gear ratio in reverse gear


Final drive ratio

Final drive ratio in 1st – 4th gear / 5th, 6th and reverse gear

4.375 / 3.333

Suspension / steering / brakes
Front suspension

McPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminium subframe, tubular anti-roll bar, track-stabilising steering roll radius

Rear suspension

Four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, tubular anti-roll bar

Steering / steering ratio / turning circle in m (D102)

Electromechanical steering with speed-dependent
power assistance / 16.2 / approx. 10.7

Brake system, front/rear

Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split. ESP with electronic
brake-force distribution EBD, ABS; hydraulic brake assist; brake servo
with dual-rate function, electronic differential lock EDL, front: ventilated discs, rear: 15″ discs


205/55 R17 tyres

Performance / consumption / acoustics
Top speed in km/h


Acceleration, 0-100 km/h in sec


Fuel type

Super unleaded, 95 RON

Fuel consumption: urban / extra-urban / combined, l/100 km

10.6 / 5.8 / 7.6

CO2 mass emission, g/km


Standing / drive-past exterior noise level in dB (A)

80 / 73

Servicing / guarantee
Oil Change

15,000kms or 12 months

Audi Cover/ Vehicle/paint/rust perforation guarantee

3 years / 3 years with unlimited mileage / 3 years / 12 years

Weights / loads
Unladen weight in kg


Axle load limit at front / rear in kg


Trailer load limit on 8%/12% gradient, braked/unbraked in kg


Roof load limit in kg / permissible nose weight in kg

– /75

Cooling system capacity (incl. heating) in l


Engine oil capacity (incl. filter) in l


Fuel tank capacity in l


Body / dimensions
Body type

Unitary steel body

Number of doors / seats

2 doors with additional side protection / 4 seats

Drag coefficient Cd / frontal area A in m2

0.33 / 2.12

Length (L103)/ width excl. mirrors (W103)/ height (H100), mm

4238 / 1765 / 1424

Wheelbase (L101) / track at front/rear (W101/W102), mm

2578 / 1534 / 1507

Height of loading lip in mm (H195)


Luggage capacity in l, acc. to VDA block method (V210)


1) depending on driving style and operating conditions

A3 Cabrio Specification and Option Sheet
Electro – mechanical power steering – speed dependent
Exhaust Catalyst
Audi Cover Assistance – 3 Year Cost Free Motoring
Galvanised Body – 12 Year Anti-Corrosion Warranty

Safety and Security

ABS with EBD (Electronic Brake Pressure Distribution) and Electronic Brake Assist
Active Front Head Restraints
ASR with EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) and ESP (Electronic Stabilisation Program)
Front Driver & Passenger Airbags with Side Airbags in the in the Front Seats & Sideguard Head Airbag
Front Passenger Airbag Deactivation
Front Ventilated Disc Brakes
Hill Start Assist
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchorages Front & Rear
Rear Disc Brakes
Anti Theft Alarm With Interior Surveillance and Vehicle Immobiliser


Alloy Wheels: 18″ 7-twin spoke design
Tyres: 225/45 18
Automatic Hood, Fully Automatic With Acoustic Insulation, Activated Up To 30km/h
Auto Headlight with Rain Sensor, Coming-Home and Daytime Driving Mode
Body Coloured, Electrically Adjustable Exterior Mirrors
Front Fog Lights
Headlights with Headlight Range Adjustment: Halogen
Metallic Paint Surcharge: no-cost option
Rear Parking Aid
Spare Wheel: Space Saver
Sports Suspension: S line
S line Door Trim Strips in Body Colour
S line Rear Spoiler Integrated into Boot Lid
Sports Front and Rear Bumper Design
Sports Front Grille with S line Badging


Active Speakers
Air Conditioning: Automatic
Audi Factory Audio System: Concert
Auto-Dimming Interior Mirror
CD Player
Centre Armrest
Cruise Control
Dashboard Inserts: Aluminium
Driver information system
Height Adjustable Front Seats
Height And Reach Adjustable Steering Columnl
Interior Trim: Alcantara /Leateher
Leather Multifunction Steering Wheel: 3-spoke S line with paddle shift
Outside Temperature gauge
Seating: Sports
Split Folding Rear Seat
Windscreen with Grey tinted strip

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

New Audi A3 Convertible can park itself

August 12th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


The new Audi A3 Cabriolet now has the added ability to now park itself, thanks to what Audi calls the ‘Parallel Park Assist system’.

Working in conjunction with the A3 Cabriolet’s sophisticated in-dash Driver’s Information System (DIS) – a standard feature of Sport and S line versions – the new Parallel Park Assist system is available as an optional extra.

Using ultrasonic sensors, the system monitors longitudinal parking spaces at speeds below 30km/h, and if it detects that a space is sufficiently large to reverse into, the driver is alerted via the DIS. If the driver then engages reverse gear and touches the accelerator pedal, the Park Assist system takes over the electromechanical steering and automatically steers the car into the space in one manoeuvre. The driver can hand over complete control of the steering wheel to the car, and only has to operate the accelerator, the clutch and the brake for obvious safety reasons. Audible chimes which increase in frequency depending on proximity to cars in front and behind allow the driver to position the car perfectly in the space once the ‘hands-free’ steering input has been completed.

Power for the A3 Cabriolet range comes courtesy of five responsive petrol engines, including the 1.6-litre 102PS four-cylinder petrol which has just been introduced, the 160PS 1.8 TFSI petrol and the 200PS 2.0 TFSI petrol, and in the diesel camp the 105PS 1.9 TDI and the 140PS 2.0 TDI with common rail piezo fuel injection. These are combined with either a five or six-speed manual gearbox, depending on version, or the option, for all models bar the 1.6 and 1.9 TDI, of the acclaimed six-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission.

Practicality has been considered as carefully as optimum performance, the A3 Cabriolet not only converting to topless mode and back extraordinarily rapidly, and at speeds of up to 30km/h, but also comfortably accommodating four passengers without ruling out impressive luggage capacity that is expandable thanks to the standard split/fold rear seat. An ingenious Z-fold mechanism eliminates the need for a deep stowage compartment for the roof within the body of the A3 Cabriolet, and therefore also eliminates the compromise in boot space that is often required.

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