Audi A3 Cabrio pro­vides driv­ers with low-priced lux­ury

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY ANN M. JOB

RE­VIEW

Those look­ing for a lux­u­ry­branded con­vert­ible with a low price tag should turn to­ward Audi’s A3 Cabri­o­let.

With a US$ 36,525 start­ing re­tail price, in­clud­ing des­ti­na­tion charge, the Audi A3 Cabrio comes with stan­dard leather­cov­ered seats and dual- zone cli­mate con­trol — not found in other low- priced 2015 model year con­vert­ibles, such as the Chevro­let Ca­maro, Ford Mus­tang, Mini Cooper and Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle. Plus, its base, 170- horse­power, tur­bocharged four- cylin­der pro­vides strong ac­cel­er­a­tion, with a full 200 foot- pounds of torque com­ing on at a low 1,600 rpm and car­ry­ing through to 4,400 rpm.

Best ranks

of all, the A3 Cabrio third best in fuel mile- age among all U. S. con­vert­ibles, be­hind the much smaller Smart Fortwo Pas­sion Cabrio and Mini Cooper con­vert­ible. The fed­eral gov­ern­ment says it gets 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the high­way, and judg­ing by the fuel- sip­ping na­ture of the test ve­hi­cle, those num­bers are achiev­able, av­er­ag­ing just over the 28- mpg com­bined city/ high­way rat­ing.

Driv­ers who aren’t in­ter­ested in the mus­cle- car look of the Ca­maro and Ford Mus­tang will find much to like in the Cabrio, which, true to Audi cus­tom, looks is busi­ness- like but with a sense of crafts­man­ship. The in­te­rior gauges and con­trols are well- placed, the plas­tic pieces look up­scale and the firm seats and right- sized steer­ing wheel help make a driver feel com­fort­able. Also, it has a power­op­er­ated rag­top roof in­stead of the heavy- feel­ing me­tal roofs. It takes 18 sec­onds for the top to open or close, even if trav­el­ing at city speeds of 31 mph or less.

The test car felt lively, as the en­gine and six- speed trans­mis­sion worked to de­liver power with just a bit of a lag from the turbo en­gine. Its front- wheel drive takes off with gusto from stop­lights and makes swift passes on coun­try roads. Horse­power peaks at 170, so it’s not close to the 323 horses found in the Chevy Ca­maro’s V- 6.

The test A3 Cabrio Pre­mium Plus moved like a solid piece of me­tal, even over rail­road tracks where lesser con­vert­ibles might shake.

The car sits lower to the pave­ment than SUVs and trucks, so there’s not a great view when the Audi is stuck in traf­fic. But the lower cen­ter of grav­ity and re­spon­sive steer­ing made for fun driv­ing when tak­ing curves and turns.

There was wind noise and some road noise in the A3, whether the top was up or down.

The two side doors are longish, which means larger park­ing spa­ces are best to avoid bang­ing a door into an ad­ja­cent ve­hi­cle. The back seat is for two adults only, but 31.9 inches of legroom is bet­ter than the Ca­maro’s back­seat.

Even with the roof folded down, there’s still 7.1 cu­bic feet of space in the A3 Cabrio trunk. With the top on, the trunk has 9.9 cu­bic feet of stor­age area.

The 2015 A3 sedan was rated five out of five stars in pas­sen­ger pro­tec­tion in fed­eral gov­ern­ment crash tests. How­ever, there is no data on crash tests of the 2015 A3 Cabri­o­let. One U. S. safety re­call in April in­volved de­fec­tive nickel plat­ing in­side the fuel pump, which could cause the pump to fail and thereby stall the car and not al­low it to restart.

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