Powering up the Audi A3 Cabriolet
The engine range, same as the rest of the A3 range, consists of three petrol and three diesel options. The entry-level 1.4 TFSI has been replaced by a 1.5 TFSI unit, which produces 148bhp and 184lb ft and promises a 0-62mph time of 8.9sec. From what we have seen, it is an exceptionally refined powerplant which is incredibly quiet at idle and around town, and therefore suggests it would ideally be suited to drop-top use.
The second petrol in the line-up is a 2.0-litre TFSI, which produces 188bhp and 236lb ft. While its gutsier delivery and claimed 0-62mph time of 7.3sec (6.9sec if you opt for the quattro version) is better suited to the idyllic sporting ethos of top-down motoring, although it's not a big seller in the UK. The same 2.0-litre unit has been given a working over by Audi Sport who has managed to eek out 305bhp for the S3 version which tops the range.
The diesel options consists of a 108bhp 1.6-litre unit, which heavily focuses on economy and low emissions making it perfect for the hatch and the saloon but less so for a top-down cruiser. The rest of the range consists of a 2.0-litre oilburner in two variants - 148bhp and 181bhp - both of which are available with Audi's quattro four-wheel drive system.
Cruising in a drop-top Audi A3
On the road, the A3 cabriolet is a competent if not exactly engaging steer. The inevitable compromises of the cabriolet's roof removal are dealt with in reasonable fashion, although there's no hiding the fact that some rigidity and ride refinement have been sacrificed.
Scuttle shake is kept to a well concealed minimum but there's detectable movement through the body when dealing with larger intrusions and over more challenging road surfaces. It's never terrible, but there's no getting away from the fact that you're dealing with an essentially compromised chassis. If the option of lowering the roof is an acceptable trade-off, however, you should have no cause for serious complaint.
That roof, incidentally, which opens and closes in 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph, comes in two versions. Entry-level SE models get a standard hard-wearing fabric roof, but a more sound-absorbent 'acoustic' soft-top is available as an option, or as standard on higher spec models.
So the A3 cabriolet drives acceptably well, it's slightly bigger (but also slightly lower) and slightly lighter than before, and comes with the appealing option of a clever, cleaner version of petrol engine. It also gets a slightly bigger boot - 320 litres with the roof closed compared with 260 litres in the old A3 cabriolet - and, according to Audi, 'generous space' for four passengers.
That we'd take some issue with. While the front cabin is spacious enough (although the driver's elbow can fight for space with the passenger's arm during manual gearchanges), the two rear seats really aren't the most accommodating. Anything bigger than a medium to large-sized child will want for shoulder and legroom on anything but short journeys, even with the distraction of a top-down, wind-in-their-hair experience.
There are four trims to choose from - SE, Sport, S line and S3. Entry-level models get a wealth of standard equipment, including 16in alloys, xenon headlights, heated wing mirrors, cruise control, rear parking sensors and automatic lights and wipers. Inside there is air conditioning, manually adjustable front seats and Audi's MMI infotainment system complete with a 7.0in retractable screen, DAB radio, Bluetooth and USB connectivity.