2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet Test Drive Review
2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Audi A3 Cabriolet Review

Car Tested: 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 40 TFSI

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 58.13 lakhs

The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s roof down motoring & powerful petrol mill makes it very desirable

Open-top motoring isn’t very popular in India due to a variety of reasons like bad weather, high levels of pollution, lack of discipline (people spitting from buses) and of course poor air quality. That’s not all, further dampening the sales of top-down cars is the price, they aren’t affordable by any stretch of the imagination. Not anymore because Audi has brought in the A3 Cabriolet to India and although it comes via the more expensive fully imported CBU route, it is still cheaper than an A6. This obviously means that the A3 Cabriolet is an affordable convertible by luxury car standards but can an entry-level luxury car do justice to the top-down motoring concept?

Motor Quest: The Audi A3 was first launched in 1996 and is currently in its third generation. Audi launched a cabriolet version of the second generation A3 in 2008. The current gen A3 was launched in India in August 2014 while the Cabriolet was launched in December 2014..

There are many design elements which are shared between the sedan and cabriolet

Exteriors – The A3 Cabriolet is very similar to the A3 sedan on which it is based. So you get the same headlights, tail lights and 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels but in spite of that, it looks quite different. That’s because the Audi A3 Cabriolet gets a fabric roof and loses out the two rear doors (the front doors are longer), resulting in an even shorter length than the already short in length A3 sedan. Thus, the A3 Cabriolet is unmistakably an A3 even when you see it from afar because the compact dimensions are an immediate giveaway about the identity of the vehicle.

The Audi A3 Cabriolet looks drastically more attractive with the roof down

With the top-down, the Audi A3 Cabriolet is quite the attention grabber

The Audi A3 Cabriolet does get a brushed silver finish on the frame of the front windscreen which looks quite nice. The car does look short when the roof is up but once you put it down, it does look bigger than it actually is. Roof down motoring is quite a new concept in India so when you drive with the top down, people do stare at the A3 Cabriolet like it’s some supercar. Thus, if you want to turn attention, the A3 Cabriolet will do it for you, something more expensive sedans are unlikely to manage.

The cabin of the fully imported Audi A3 features top notch quality

Interiors – The A3 Cabriolet shares its interiors with the A3 sedan, having the same configuration as the top spec trim on the 4-door model. The dashboard is classy with the round AC vents and minimal use of buttons although there are still quite a few but not as many as one would expect in a car which is equipped with a ton of features like MMI infotainment system with a touchpad, dual-zone climate control system and reverse parking camera. One can also opt for satellite navigation with the optional Technology Pack and a better audio experience with the optional Bang & Olufsen audio system.

The interior elements which stand out; the car gets optional equipment

The A3’s cabin feels a bit packed with the roof up

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is a four seater but in essence, it’s really a two seater because the rear seats lack legroom, making it best for small kids at best. With the roof down, headroom isn’t a problem, naturally, while the front seats (one can opt for sporty black leather) have very good cushioning, the only disappointing aspect being the manual adjustment instead of electric one. Quality inside the cabin is top notch, as expected from a CBU Audi. The boot space is limited due to the space taken by the folded roof and the mechanism that makes it work but still one can keep hand bags with ease which makes the trunk practical enough for the occasional weekend gateway.

The A3 Cabriolet comes with a petrol engine only, the 1.8L mill is a blast

Performance – The Audi A3 Cabriolet only comes with a petrol engine and the 40 TFSI motor has got much applaud for its performance. In the A3 sedan, the petrol mill gets overshadowed in lieu of the more frugal oil burner but in the A3 Cab, one can’t help but get addicted to the performance. The 1.8-litre gasoline powerplant outputs 180 HP but what’s crucial is the torque output of 250 Nm, from as low as 1250 RPM, going up all the way to 5000 RPM, that is a massive torque band, more so by petrol car standards. 0-100 km/hr comes up in 7.83 seconds as per our VBOX tests which is half a second slower than the sedan due to the 135 kgs increase in weight over the petrol A3 sedan caused by the roof operating electronics.

With the roof down, the sound is more audible and the A3 sounds exciting

The petrol motor in the A3 Cab is very responsive and gives an enjoyable surge on full throttle

This 1.8 TFSI mill also powers a range of Volkswagen Group cars and the more praises showered on it, the less it is. The car idles with super smoothness and is refined at all times. Give it the beans and it spins to its 6500 RPM redline with no effort at all, having a linear pull throughout the rev range. The A3 Cabriolet sounds very exciting and although its twin exhausts emit the same aural bass as the sedan, the shorter length of the car makes them more vocal inside the cabin, more so with the roof down. The vehicle reaches the ton in third gear while at the same speed in top gear, it does 2100 RPM on the tachometer, having a lot of punch for quick overtakes. The top speed is 240 km/hr and the A3 Cabriolet pulls to high speeds in a flash.

The 7-speed gearbox is quick with shifts, the car gets Audi Drive Select

Audi has paired the A3’s 1.8 TFSI mill to a 7-speed S-tronic automatic gearbox. This dual-clutch unit offers smooth shifts and shows signs of urgency when you need quick cog changes. The vehicle comes with Audi Drive Select with five modes – Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual. The modes change the way the gearbox goes about doing its job while also altering the engine response. The car is also offered with the option of a sporty 3-spoke steering wheel (the standard wheel is 4-spokes) which brings along paddle shifters too although without this option, one can still take control of things using the tiptronic function on the gear lever, there is also a Sports mode there. The A3 Cabriolet returns a mileage of 9-12 km/l, it benefits from a recuperation system that boosts mileage by up to 3%.

Eager to corner, the A3’s dynamic balance is retained and it’s fun around the twisties

Driving Dynamics – Underpinned by the light MQB platform, the front-wheel drive Audi A3 Cabriolet offers an engaging drive. The car handles very nicely and has plenty of grip on offer, the removal of the roof not intervening in its sharp dynamics. The A3 is as eager as ever and offers excellent stability at high speeds, even with the roof down. The steering’s weight is altered with the Drive Select modes but we would have liked some more feel at high speeds. Braking performance is very good and there is tremendous confidence when coming to a stop from triple digit plus speeds.

With the roof down, the experience of driving the Audi A3 is totally transformed

This A3’s party piece is the wind-in-your-hair feeling

The Audi A3 Cabriolet has a lower and slightly pulled back windshield to ensure the roof doesn’t have to cover a longer distance when being engaged or disengaged. This can be a hinderance for really tall drivers but adjust the seat to its lowest position and you won’t have much of an issue. The roof itself takes 18 seconds to fold up or down completely and can be operated till a speed of 50 km/hr. Ride quality is good but when you go over really bad and broken roads, you can feel a slight shock, the roof and its electronic mechanism shaking a bit.

Audi has loaded the A3 Cabriolet with a host of safety features

Safety and After Sales Service – The Audi A3 Cabriolet hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP but its sedan and hatchback derivatives have received a 5-star rating. The A3 Cabriolet comes with a host of safety features including 5 airbags, rain sensors, light sensors, ABS, EBD, ASR, EDL, ESC and Adaptive brake light. It also gets secondary collision brake assist, rest recommendation system and comes with an electromechanical parking brake. Audi’s dealership network in India is decent and although not the biggest, it is being expanded at a steady pace.

The Audi A3 is among the most affordable convertible cars in India currently

Verdict – The Audi A3 Cabriolet is certainly not the most car for your money because for the asking price, you can get a bigger luxury car, well almost. It’s not hugely practical either but if practicality is what you are after, this is certainly not the car for you. In fact, this is not a daily driver either, the A3 Cabriolet is a car for late nights and weekend gateways. This Audi is the second most reasonably priced convertible you can buy in India (the most cost effective being the MINI Cooper Convertible). The A3 Cabriolet is a car for enjoying wind in your hair while taking that only special someone along with you for the drive, in that case, it makes for an attractive purchase as a secondary car while also being an affordable option by convertible car standards.

Audi has brought in an entry-level convertible in India with the A3 Cabriolet as it gives you top-down motoring fun for relatively less money. The A3 Cabriolet offers a good driving experience with its excellent petrol engine and good handling.

One can enjoy driving the A3 Cabriolet as it is a lot of fun on the highways

What’s Cool

* Among the most affordable convertible cars you can buy in India today
* 40 TFSI engine has a lot of punch and sounds nice too
* Excellent ride and handling balance, the MQB platform works its charm

What’s Not So Cool

* Rear seat lacks space, best used by small kids
* Some optional equipment (like paddle shifters) should have been standard

Alternatives: None

The A3 Cabriolet is an excellent weekend car and is relatively inexpensive

Audi A3 Cabriolet Specifications

* Engine: 1798cc, Turbocharged, DOHC, 4-cylinder, TFSI
* Power: 180 HP @ 5100-6200 RPM
* Torque: 250 Nm @ 1250-5000 RPM
* Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic automatic
* 0-100 km/hr: 7.83 seconds
* Top Speed: 240 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 9 km/l (City), 12 km/l (Highway)
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), 4-Link Rear Suspension (Rear)
* Tyres: 225/45/17
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Ventilated Disc (Rear), ABS
* Safety: ABS, 5 Airbags, ABS, EBD, ESC, EDL, ASR

Audi A3 Cabriolet Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4421 mm X 1950 mm X 1409 mm
* Wheelbase: 2595 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1555 mm/1525 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.2 metres
* Ground clearance: 160 mm
* Boot Volume: 320 litres, 678 litres (with rear seats folded down)
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1430 kgs

Further Reading –

Audi A3 Review
Audi A3 vs Mercedes CLA

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta