Audi continues to evolve their small car offering. In the 2015 model year, the A3 sedan changed body style, moving away from a hatchback toward a sporty four-door. Likewise, Audi makes this vehicle even more exciting by adding a 2+2 cabriolet (aka convertible) to the lineup. The A3 cabrio certainly brings more excitement to an already vibrant brand.
Readers take note: I’m biasing myself here, but I’m partial to convertibles. There’s something about the wind blowing, the sun beating down on your head and the sound of the open road that really connects you to the road. Convertibles improve the driving experience. So, needless to say, I prefer the A3 as a cabriolet – especially when that cabrio comes in a brilliant red paint color as mine did.
The A3 cabrio has distinctively European looks, which is only logical and to be expected. The grille is different from other Audis – smaller, less aggressive and not as imposing. It really suits the diminutive stature of the car, both as the cabrio and the sedan. As a convertible, the side panel styling just flows beautifully, and the roof doesn’t seem like an afterthought like it does on some convertibles. With flaring indentations at the bottom and closer to the window line, the A3 looks modern and aerodynamic. It’s a driving machine with style and looks ready for the open road.
There are so few convertibles on the road any more, and the A3 has a great deal of distinction. The convertible seems like such an American thing, and the few convertibles left are often variants on muscle cars, so with its European appeal and modern look, the A3 cabrio really stands out from the crowd.
There are two engine options for either the sedan or the cabrio. A 1.8-liter TFSI engine with front-wheel drive or a 2.0-liter TFSI engine with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. My tester was the latter, which has plenty of power and giddy up. The 2.0-liter engine makes 220 horses and 258 lb-ft. of torque. The six-speed automatic transmission gets the job done, and the A3 cabrio has Quattro all-wheel drive which makes for an even more enjoyable ride.
The A3 drives flawlessly. It’s enjoyable, peppy and is exactly how you want a convertible to drive. The A3 cabrio has the spirit of a roadster, but the flash and interior of a luxury sedan.
Speaking of the interior, Audi has some of the most appealing interiors of any car brand on the market. A true luxury brand, Audi’s interiors never disappoint and didn’t let me down here. For a “startup” or affordable model, the A3 didn’t skimp on the quality. The interior is very hip and modern.
Even the circular air vents have a sharp, modern look. It’s an attention to smaller details like this, that makes the A3 so nice. Other Audis, with bigger price tags, are fancier inside than the A3, but soft-touch materials are plentiful, along with a cabin full of technology. All the seats are leather trimmed, and the three-spoke steering wheel is leather wrapped too. There are paddle shifters for those who enjoy them, and the aluminum pedals are both sleek and feel good on your feet. Again, it’s the little things like this, that add a significant amount of appeal to the A3.
Front passenger headroom with the top up is spacious, and infinite with the top down. Rear passengers will feel cramped with the roof up and even with the top down, the leg room in the back seat is lacking. Even a Toyota Corolla seems to have more leg room, so that can be problematic for longer trips. But the interior is nice, and with the top down, you’re more comfortable and enjoying an incredible driving machine.
Maybe it’s because I’ve driven my fair share of Audis, but I’m starting to adapt and enjoy their MMI infotainment system. While still somewhat clumsy and not totally intuitive, the MMI toggle seems less touchy and easier to manipulate through the interface. Audi redesigned the toggle switch for this model year and it shows. You can control every aspect of the infotainment system, as well as interaction with your phone and devices through this MMI toggle. The color display retracts into the dashboard with the push of a button if you want to have a totally unobstructed view and get lost in pure driving enjoyment (which is likely to happen). If you’re like me and navigate via landmarks, you’ll love the Google Earth-based navigation. It’s my favorite in-vehicle nav system.
The cabrio’s top can be opened or closed in about 18 seconds. While that may seem like a long time, you can do this with the push of one button and it can be done while driving at speeds up to 31 mph.
The A3 cabrio, equipped with the 2.0-liter engine has an EPA rating of 23 mpg/city and 32 mpg/highway. This is pretty good fuel economy for a spry little convertible. The smaller engine provides even better fuel economy. In a week’s worth of driving, I averaged 25 mpg.
While there are four variants of the Audi A3, there’s only one trim for the A3 Cabriolet, which has a base price of $38,600(USD). My tester had options like the aforementioned navigation system, as well as heated seats, the aluminum interior package and Audi’s sport package, which includes a sport-tuned suspension and driver select mode.
Forget all the other modes, the sport mode is the way to drive the A3 cabrio. It’s perfectly tuned to handle the road, mated with the all-wheel drive.
My tester had a final MSRP of $45,475. Buick’s new Cascada convertible, which comes out for 2016, may be the A3 cabrio’s main competitor. The Cascada will be hard-pressed to perform as smoothly and flawlessly as this vehicle, but it does have a pretty big price advantage.
The Audi A3 Cabriolet combines two things that always bring a smile to my face: a convertible and German engineering. This compact convertible 2+2 offers pure driving enjoyment and plenty of luxury and technology to make for an amazing car.
Source:: 95 Octane