We're not in the habit of making a beeline for new, not-all-that-sporting small soft tops here at PH. But, launched in conjunction with the new
, Ingolstadt's latest A3 Cabriolet also piqued our interest.
How to make an Audi hatchback exciting?
The old drop-top A3 wasn't a looker - it had the proportions of a Euro NCAP-tested A5 Cabriolet - but this new car is based on the A3 Saloon's 'technical platform', according to Audi. Put simply, that means it's longer, sleeker and much more elegant than before.
Three engines will be on offer in the UK when the car hits shores in spring 2014 - a 140hp 1.4 petrol turbo, a 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel and the 180hp 1.8-litre TFSI turbo petrol. A 300hp S3 Cabriolet based on the same platform as the hatch, Sportback and saloon equivalents is confirmed as joining the range at a date to be confirmed
The A3 Cabriolet sets its stall out straight away - it's not a sports car. But it's not entirely without appeal.
The 1.8 four-pot needs to be revved to extract the best from it, even with 184lb ft spread between 1,250 and 5,000rpm. At least it sounds willing when you're working it, with a crisp(ish) four-cylinder rasp. Snappy upshifts from the seven-speed DSG transmission suit the character of the motor down to the ground, too.
Well, going al fresco is one possible way
Officially, 0-62mph takes 7.8 seconds for the front driver (although Quattro four-wheel drive is an option), but the A3 Cab is more of a cruiser. It feels impressively solid, with scuttle shake only just apparent on extremely ruffled roads.
Roll is kept to a minimum, and even in lower, firmer S line spec, the ride is smooth and controlled. Although the Cabriolet's steering isn't particularly communicative - the most you'll get is a slight wriggle from the wheel signifying a whiff of understeer or wheelspin - there is a useful amount of grip to exploit. Shame, then, that you never quite know where the limits are.
Outside of PH land and in the real world, the 1.8 TFSI A3 Cabriolet does things really rather well. It has a 320-litre boot (275 litres with the roof down), returns a claimed 48.7mpg with 133g/km CO2 and costs £30,270. However, for a little under 700 quid extra you could have a more balanced, six-cylinder BMW 125i Convertible if going topless is your thing.
Possibly a few more hp required for PH appeal
It's comfortable, with a typically well-appointed Audi interior, and the heated seats and fans that blow warm air onto your neck are ferocious. Tick this box if you're buying one in the UK.
A special, albeit optional, acoustic hood means its pretty much as quiet as a hard top when the roof is up, which can be raised and lowered in just under 18 seconds at up to 31mph - not the swiftest, not the slowest, but certainly one of the most refined.
In fact, the part-magnesium roof mechanism means the A3 Cabriolet tips the scales at a relatively modest 1,505kg (for a four-seat convertible). This helps all-round, with relatively decent performance, agility, efficiency, ride and handling. The A3 Cabriolet is a sweet little convertible and just sporty enough with the 1.8 unit. We'll perhaps wait for the one prefixed with a capital 'S' and the full beans 300hp before we get too excited though.
AUDI A3 CABRIOLET 1.8 TFSI
Engine: 1,798cc, 4-cyl petrol, turbocharged
Transmission: seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 180@5,100 - 6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 184@1,250 - 5,500rpm
0-62mph: 7.8sec (S tronic)
Top speed: 150mph
MPG: 48.7mpg (S tronic, claimed)