Audi springs surprise
The A3 cabriolet arrives later than its BMW rival, but comes with many advantages, writes JAMES STANFORD
CONVERTIBLES seem more appealing now spring has sprung. One of the new drop-tops vying for the attention of Australian sun seekers is the new A3 cabriolet, which has just arrived in local showrooms — months after its BMW 1 Series convertible rival touched down.
There are many similarities be- tween the two cars. Both start at about $50,000, seat four and have fabric roofs instead of the metalfolding designs that are becoming more popular.
There are significant differences, too. The BMW is rear-wheel drive and has naturally aspirated four and six-cylinder engines. The Audi is front-drive with two turbo fourcylinder engines available.
The A3 cabriolet starts at $49,990 for a 1.8-litre TFSI model that manages 118kW and 250Nm.
It does come standard with a dualclutch automatic (the same as VW’s DSG) that can be controlled with steering wheel-mounted paddles. No manual is available with this engine.
Next up is the $54,900 2.0-litre TFSI, which lifts power to 147kW and 280Nm. The standard transmission for this unit is a six-speed manual. A dual-clutch automatic costs an extra $2600.
The A3 cabriolet, equipped with either engine, is more cruiser than race car. Going from 0-100km/h will take 8 seconds in the 1.8 and 7.3 seconds in the 2.0, so don’t expect to set any quarter-mile records at Calder Park.
Audi has fitted the A3 cabriolet with a semi-automatic roof. You pull a lever to unlock it, then the car does the rest at the touch of a button.
A fully automatic lid, with an extra layer of insulation, costs another $1300 and has been fitted to all the A3 cabriolet test cars.
Convertibles are renowned for their impracticality, but the A3 droptop is an exception.
It has split-fold rear seats, which is something missing from much more family oriented cars such as the Holden Commodore.
Dropping these down allows you to carry quite long items in the back and there is probably enough room for a bike.
The space has been opened up because the A3 cabriolet has steel rollover hoops that sit in place above the rear headrests.
Cruising: Audi’s spectacular A3 cabriolet comes with a semi-automatic roof. A lever unlocks it, then the car does the rest at the touch of a button.