Cabriolet Sport 35 TFSI S tronic
loves the idea of wind-
in-the-hair motoring but most would
also like to share the experience
with their friends. And for that youll
need a cabriolet with four seats
spiffingly good looking A3 can
do that and is perfectly cut out to
deliver all your topless thrills...
THEY SAY A PICTURE is worth a thousand words. They're right. When you
view our A3 Cabriolet gallery you'll see that, looks-wise, Audi's latest cabriolet
is a winner from the very first glance. Smartly 'sculpted', it is 24-carat eye-candy
top-up as well as top-down even more so when wearing the can't-miss-me
yellow livery of our test car.
Our Cabriolet was also badged in conformity with Audi's new power nomenclature:
'35 TFSI' Audi-speak for the German brand's 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol
engine. And a very joyful powerplant it is too, being eager to please right
from the off thanks to peak torque (a muscular 184lb ft) being on tap from just
1,500rpm; pulling smoothly and eagerly from low-down, it stays focused even
at three times those revs. Yet for all that, it's agreeably refined; you'll
rarely hear it which is good news when the top is down.
on offer is a 187bhp '40 TFSI' while for those who are happy to be corrupted
by power (in the nicest possible way), there's a 300+bhp S3 that serves up Porsche
Boxster-matching 0-62mph brio in 4.5 seconds (the Boxster S needs
the A3s 148bhp 1.5-litre
petrol engine is one
very joyful powerplant.
Eager to please right
from the off thanks to
a muscular 184lb ft of
torque, it pulls smoothly
and eagerly from low-
down, staying focused
even at three times
those revs. Yet for all
that, its agreeably
refined youll rarely
hear it, which is good
news when youre
An unexpected technical bonus is the engine's cylinder deactivation system
when cruising and under light loads this boosts efficiency by temporarily switching
off two of the four cylinders. We didn't trigger it that much due to the amount
of quick A- and B-road miles we covered, but our week's hard driving still logged
an impressive 41.4mpg. We couldn't imagine any owner quibbling with that; many
may better it; with an official 'touring' figure of 54mpg, the potential is
Making the 35's progress as cool as possible is Audi's S tronic dual-clutch
autobox that wafts swiftly through its seven ratios to deliver 62mph from standstill
in 8.9 seconds and a top speed of 138mph; fast enough for a carefree cruiser
but if you want truly scorching off-the-blocks acceleration then look to the
S3 for your soulmate. For the record, if you prefer doing your own gear-changing
the default six-speed manual 'box is a slick operator and absolutely no hardship.
Our A3 came in the obliging Sport spec although our test model was rolling on
eighteen-inchers shod with 225/40 Dunlop rubber that, despite the sporty lo-pro
sidewalls, don't betray the engineered-in comfort levels even when cantering
over iffy tarmac. Sport models come with 'Dynamic' suspension which combines
a supple ride with minimally-intrusive bump absorption. This set-up really does
make the Cabriolet as much at home hot-footing it down twisty B-roads as it
is pootling around the houses. But if ride quality is paramount then by all
means tick the box for the Adaptive Magnetic Ride dampers that are standard-fit
on the range-topping S3.
While drop-tops live and breathe to swan around topless that's not to say you
won't want to have some driving fun feel free, because the A3
Cabriolet will be happy to indulge you. This Audi convertible is assuredly not
just for boulevardiers; to help those pilotes keen to press on there's
steering that keeps you well informed as to what's going on at the 'contact
patch' where the Dunlops bite the blacktop and direction changes are performed
keenly. Added to that, well managed body roll and more than enough grip ensure
the twisties can be taken with confidence. Worth mentioning, too, is that the
accepted downside of convertibles scuttle shake
is noticeable only by its absence.
your driving pleasure is Audi's Drive Select that offers you a range of driving
styles for every mood or occasion: Auto, Dynamic, Comfort, Efficiency, and Individual.
The settings are discernibly different and you really would be missing out if
you didn't make full use of Dynamic for those spirited bursts and Comfort when
you're just chilling. Adding to the fun are gearshift paddles mounted on the
wheel's horizontal spokes for whenever you want to take total control of the
autobox's shift points to wring out the performance.
a fitting word to describe the Cabriolet's cabin the aluminium
elements are a delight, and all beautifully fitted. Whereas the real metal switchgear,
gorgeous knurled air-vents and soft-touch surfaces tempt you to touch, the 'Rallye'
sports-style front seats encourage you to sit. Their highly-tactile cloth centre
panels feel great and the chunky bolstering will keep you firmly in-situ during
bouts of feisty driving. The front cushion sections extend for superior under-knee
support and there's loads of stretch room for your legs and good shoulder room
along with a fist of headroom roof-up.
cherry on the cake
of the cabins stylishness
is Audis Virtual Cockpit
a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster that
lets the driver customise
the display by,
for instance, shrinking
the size of the dials so
a large central chunk of
the panel is freed up
to show the mapping.
And you can switch
between views on the go
with a quick press
of the relevant button on
The pleasure doesn't stop there a three-spoke, flat-bottomed,
comprehensively multi-function wheel with a satin-black perforated-leather-wrapped
rim fronts a perfect driving position. The height-adjustable seats may have
manual adjusters but they're slick to use and offer so much adjustment that
we can't image anybody not getting comfortable in seconds. Visibility is first-rate
thanks to slim windscreen pillars and good-sized side windows. Seeing what's
behind you is not a problem even with the hood up and the heated rear screen
won't cramp your parking manoeuvres (naturally there are sensors and a reversing
camera with an active guideline grid to make life easier).
The cherry on the cake of the cabin's stylishness is Audi's Virtual Cockpit
a 12.3-inch LCD instrument cluster that lets the driver customise
the display by, for instance, shrinking the size of the dials so a large central
chunk of the panel is freed up to show the mapping. And you can switch between
views on the go with a quick press of the relevant button on the wheel. As you'd
rightly expect, there's a digital speed read-out along with the selected driving
mode and the active gear. It all works flawlessly and is significantly less
distracting than having to glance at a dash-centred screen when navigating,
especially in traffic every car should have one!
said, the A3's fashionably slim seven-inch screen, which rises out of the dash-top
whenever you fire-up the engine (you can retract it at any time), sits high
enough on the fascia to be taken in with even the quickest sideward flick of
your eyes. Like everything else in the cockpit, it's so easy to use. Ditto the
Multi Media Interface (MMI) through which you control many of the A3's major
functions via a rotary dial and toggle-switches clustered logically on the centre
console immediately behind the S tronic lever. If you prefer squiggles to finger-taps,
the top of the MMI rotary controller can be used for fingertip alphanumeric
Naturally Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on hand for seamless smartphone
connectivity plus there are 2 x SDXC card slots, 2 x USB ports, and an Aux-in
socket along with Bluetooth plus a CD/DVD player with DAB digital radio; the
standard-fit HiFi is perfectly fine (and comes with speed-dependent volume control)
although audiophiles who demand as 'good as it gets' can upgrade to a 13-speaker
Bang & Olufsen sound system. More good news: the infotainment system is also
handsfree and always ready to respond to your spoken commands.
its 'natural' state soft-top power-folded away out of sight under
the sleek rear deck those in the front of the A3 Cabriolet are
well protected from buffeting even if they don't have the mesh windblocker in
place, plus there's extra cosseting from the 'air-scarf' neck warming system
built into the top of the backrest. Opening up the cabin to bask in the sunshine
(or, even more satisfying, on a starry, starry night) takes just 18 seconds
to go from snug-as-a-bug closed to brazenly topless and can be done at speeds
of up to 31mph brilliant for foiling sudden showers without having
to pull over.
its natural state
away out of sight under
the sleek rear deck
those in the front of the
A3 Cabriolet are well
protected from buffeting.
Opening up the cabin
to bask in the sunshine
(or, even more satisfying,
on a starry, starry night)
takes just 18 seconds
to go from snug-as-a-bug
closed to brazenly
topless, and can be done
at up to 31mph...
Roof closed, the Cabriolet's cabin is as well isolated from the weather and
noise as any steel-helmeted rival the Sport version gets a sound-absorbent
'acoustic' roof that really does keep the cabin hushed. And while the windblocker
temporarily restricts the Cabrio to two-seater mode due to its 'base' section
sitting horizontally across the rear seating area, there's no loss of visibility
in leaving it up with the roof closed. Another 'plus': if you're carrying items
on the rear seats they'll be well shielded from nosy parkers. Other well-considered
touches include a single button to open or close all four windows simultaneously
and, of course, all windows have individual one-shot up/down operation.
storage is also well addressed with an illuminated lockable glovebox, storage
areas ahead of the selector lever (with a 'bed' for WiFi smartphone charging)
and under the height-adjustable armrest between the front seats, a pair of large
dual-use cupholders (and three more in the rear cabin), real-world door bins
capable of holding a large bottle of water, and a handy storage box under the
driver's seat that's home to a first aid kit.
Before dishing out invites to ride-along you should know that four full-sized
adults, while doable, could be a bit of a squeeze; that said, slim grown-ups
and teenagers will definitely enjoy topless showboating in the two individual
Top-up it's still a sought-after spot, especially if the coveted front passenger
seat has already been 'bagged'. Even with the roof closed, reaching the rear
seats is smooth sailing thanks to the easy-folding front seatback mechanisms
that not only work smoothly but unfailingly return to their original position,
so stopping to take on back seat passengers doesn't infuriate those already
riding up front. Once there they enjoy individual seats with outer armrests,
dedicated AirCon air-vents and comfy headrests. And wherever anybody sits, their
side window will be made of heat-insulating glass.
Kit-wise the Sport spec gives you all the must-haves while safety features include
an active bonnet, electronic stability and traction control, collision mitigation
braking, electronic differential lock, driver fatigue detection system, hill-hold
assist, rear parking sensors, heated door mirrors, active front headrests, tyre
pressure monitoring, automatic roll-over protection plus, of course, curtain
airbags and driver and passenger side airbags including one for the driver's
knee, adaptive brake lights, LED daytime running lights, heated windscreen washer
jets, heated front windscreen, heated rear window, and auto lights and wipes.
Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, active lane assist and a self-parking
parking system are all optional.
with the fabric roof up leaves room in the boot for an unexpected
and almost hatchback-equalling 320 litres of luggage; more than
enough for a serious family shop or several hunky suitcases! Additionally, the
50:50-split rear seatbacks fold completely flat (simply pull the remote levers
in the boot) allowing quite long flat-pack-type loads to be easily carried.
Press the button to retract the roof and it powerfolds into its own dedicated
in-boot well that, while temporarily reducing cargo space, still maks available
a usefully shallow load bay.
Classy-looking and ego-enhancing, the A3 drop-top is a premium product both
inside and out. Indulgently spacious for two adults (and with room for friends),
it's also good to drive courtesy of a keen 1.5-litre petrol powerplant. A serious
contender for your al fresco budget.~ MotorBar
Audi A3 Cabriolet Sport 35 TFSI S tronic
Maximum speed: 138mph | 0-62mph: 8.9 seconds | Test Average: 41.4mpg
Power: 148bhp | Torque: 184lb ft | CO2: 121g/km