THIS is a convertible I could live with. Impracticality has always been a big downside of top-down cruisers, but the A3 cabriolet is the best of the bunch in this regard.
Its rear seats are wide enough to fit two adults and the boot is a reasonable size — the space doesn’t disappear when you drop the roof.
Then there are those fold-down rear seats. They allow you to not only carry long or bulkier items, but do so with the roof down.
The small Audi convertible is more livable in other ways, too, and has a softer suspension setting than the BMW 1 Series. This results in a more comfortable ride, though the 2.0 TFSI test car didn’t feel as compliant as the cars tested on the launch a few months ago.
This is because the test car was fitted with 18-inch rims (a $2900 option) rather than the standard-issue 17s.
The bumpier roads of the test loop revealed the A3 Cabriolet is not as stiff as the launch drive suggested.
Unlike the BMW, the Audi’s body wobbles a little over imperfect surfaces.
It is not as bad as, say, the Mitsubishi Colt cabriolet, which is terrible, but you can still feel it and you can see the rear headrests moving in the rear view mirror.
The Audi handles well and is a fairly sharp tool. The steering still doesn’t feel as direct or give you as much feedback as the BMW system. Its super light at low speeds, which is presumably tuned for shopping-centre work, but it feels too light.
The engine is good. The 1.8-litre base engine is nicer than the figures suggest, but the 2.0 has a lot of punch, especially from 2600 to 4800 revs.
You can go pretty quick if you press hard or simply use the strong torque to cruise without much effort.
THE BOTTOM LINE
COMFORTABLE, practical and good-looking prestige convertible that works out to be relatively good value.