A pleasure from top down
Take in the good life at a price that does not hurt the hip pocket too much, CHRIS RILEY writes
THERE’S nothing like a drive in the country on a sunny Sunday afternoon, especially in a sportscar with the top down.
The destination is unimportant, it is the journey that lifts the spirits and helps you forget your problems for awhile.
Audi’s A3 Cabrio is capable of delivering that experience in a car that feels larger and more refined than before — it’s better looking, too.
Prices for the Cabrio start from $47,300 for the entry level 1.4-litre model. Our test vehicle with all-wheel drive and all the fruit will set you back $54,900 plus.
That’s plus $4200 for the desirable S-Line pack, which brings 18-inch wheels and a sportier appearance. Metallic or pearl paint adds $1150, and if you want navigation that is part of the Technik pack, that is $2650.
It adds up and our test vehicle with a long string of accessories topped out at $62,350.
The Cabrio is larger and more comfortable than before, weighs 75kg less and has a 17mm longer wheelbase with a new electrically controlled fabric roof that retracts in 18 seconds — a feat that can be achieved at up to 50km/h.
Despite the increase in size, there is still not much room in the back.
Leather and climate air are standard, along with automatic lights and wipers, front and rear parking sensors, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and MMI radio system with an electrically retractable, slimline 5.8-inch colour display monitor with eight passive speakers.
It is the first time the A3 Cabrio has been offered with quattro.
It adds another level of safety and also delivers high levels of traction in corners.
The 1.8-litre turbocharged four -cylinder petrol engine delivers 132kW of power and 280Nm of torque from a low 1350 revs.
Drive is delivered to all four wheels via a twin clutch-style, S-tronic automatic, with paddle shifts. In contrast to the twowheel-drive version, it puts out another 30Nm of torque and features a wet clutch with six speeds instead of seven — to cater for the higher output.
With seven airbags and a full complement for driver assistance systems, including electronic traction and stability control, the A3 scores a full five stars for safety from ANCAP. A new active rollover protection system protects occupants in the event of a rollover.
The Cabrio is as sporty as it is green, scoring 4.5 out of a possible five stars from the Government’s Green Vehicle Guide.
Cruising out on the open road it all feels pretty good but we found the transmission a little harsh and jerky in other situations. Putting the car in sport mode smooths out the changes, but the delayed changes are a bit manic.
In terms of performance the dash to 100km/h takes 7.6 seconds and Audi drive select is standard on this model which means you can dial in the way you want the car to behave.
Fuel consumption is rated at a low 6.6 litres/100km using premium unleaded fuel. We were getting 8.5 litres/100km after a tick more than 500km.
Liked this car a lot, apart from the transmission. It delivers the good life at a fraction of the price you might expect. Four stars out of five.