Audi’s A3 Cabriolet joined the range in 2008, but with its dumpy styling never really grabbed the attention of enthusiasts. That’s about to change with the latest model, which looks more like a compact version of the sleek and sassy A5.
The other think that’s changed is its price.
Back in 2008 the entry-level A3 Cab was the 104bhp 1.6-litre model priced at £19,995, five years later you’ll need to stump up at least £25,790 for the 138bhp 1.4 TFSI linked to six-speed manual transmission. That’s around £4,700 more than the equivalent A3 Sportback or £1,400 more than an A3 Saloon Sport fitted with Audi’s 7-speed S tronic gearbox.
The quickest model back in 2008 was the 197bhp 2.0 TFSI, which has now been replaced by the 177bhp 1.8 TFSI available in either Sport or S line specification. The price for this has risen from £27,060 in 2008 to £30,270 in 2014 (or £32,420 in S line spec), but fear not, if you’d like something quicker there’s always the 296bhp S3 Cabriolet coming later next year – priced somewhere north of £36,000.
So, based purely on price it seems the A3 Cabriolet has moved noticeably upmarket.
Engines now include the ultra-efficient 1.4 TFSI with Cylinder-on-Demand (CoD), the 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TDI with 148bhp. The more powerful 181bhp 2.0 TDI will be available to order from February next year along with a super-frugal 1.6 TDI, which offers 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km.
The all-important fabric roof comes in two grades; as standard the fabric is stretched over a lightweight mechanism made of magnesium-steel, which opens in a little under 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. A more sound-absorbent acoustic soft top with three-layer inner padding is fitted as standard to UK Sport and S line versions, and offered as an option on SE models.
Either way the shape (with the roof up) is coupé rather than pram-like, while the new Cabriolet’s platform (based on the A3 Saloon) allows up to 275 litres of luggage when retracted.
Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform works wonders on the A3 Cabriolet’s weight – despite being larger than its predecessor the entry-level 1.4 TFSI weighs 1,365 kilograms, or around 50 kilograms less than its equivalent predecessor. Audi say the body-in-white weighs 30 kilograms less than before, which is helped by the new car’s aluminium bonnet.
Standard equipment (for the entry-level model) includes the fully automatic hood finished in black, 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, the MMI radio incorporating an 11 millimetre-thick powered folding screen, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth interface, preparation for SD card-based navigation and a light and rain sensor package.
As before its available in a choice of SE, Sport or S line specification, while the higher you go the more choice you gain over the type of suspension fitted (at no additional cost).
Buyers of Sport and S line versions sit 15mm lower on either 17-inch or 18-inch alloy wheels respectively. They’re fitted as standard with sports suspension, however the SE version’s more comfort-oriented standard suspension can be selected at no extra cost. S line versions can swing the other way, with the 25mm lower S line sports suspension available instead.
Sports seats, adaptive dynamics, dual-zone climate control and a high-resolution colour driver’s information system are available as standard on Sport and S line versions, while the S line also features part-leather-upholstery embossed with the S line logo, an S line sports steering wheel, S line body styling and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lamps.
Order books are open today with first customer deliveries expected from next April. Pricing of the S3 Cabriolet will be announced early in the new year.