The new Audi A3 Cabriolet is better in three important areas - design, rigidity and driveability
3 times a cabriolet RED HOT More interestingly, the new A3 Cabriolet is great fun to drive despite having a smaller engine than its predecessor's 1.8-litre turbo.

IT'S longer, sleeker and, most importantly, stiffer.

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is now based on the Audi A3 Sedan and retains its fabric roof for that classic convertible look. The previous A3 Cab was derived from the A3 hatchback and therefore sported a truncated tail. But the new Cabriolet gets the longer rear deck of the sedan, thus ensuring that it has more streamlined proportions.

Overall, the new A3 Cabriolet is longer than the model it replaces (plus 183 mm to 4,421 mm) and wider (an extra 28 mm to 1,793 mm), with a 2,595 mm wheelbase that has been extended by 17 mm. Still, even though it is based on the Sedan, the Cabriolet has a shorter wheelbase than the four-door version - 42 mm less, to be exact - and one which is closer to the current three-door hatchback's. This shortened wheelbase is due to a combination of design and packaging requirements, but it also results in increased body rigidity, which was an issue with the earlier Cabriolet.

When going over irregular road surfaces, the previous generation A3 droptop's windscreen frame and steering column would get the shakes. Literally. Not this new A3 Cab. It is noticeably tighter and quieter, with lower noise, vibration and harshness levels.

The acoustic roof, with its extra layer of foam to enhance insulation, also plays an important role in NVH reduction, while its lightweight magnesium frame means the whole assembly weighs only 50 kg.

While other manufacturers may have gone for a folding hardtop with their compact convertible models, Audi has stayed with the fabric roof not only to evoke the traditional convertible look but also to allow for a lower, more aesthetically pleasing rear deck and increased boot space. Like the Audi A3 Sedan, the Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI slots neatly into COE Category A even though the Cabrio's engine has three more hp than the Sedan's at 125 hp.

More interestingly, the new A3 Cabriolet is great fun to drive despite having a smaller engine than its predecessor's 1.8-litre turbo. The 200 Nm of torque available from a low 1,400 rpm gives the Cabrio plenty of vim. It may not be a sports car but it is so zippy you will probably go faster than your licence would want you to. This is despite being 150 kg heavier than the Sedan at 1,385 kg. But the weight deficit is not obvious because it handles better.

It feels more planted in fast corners due to the shorter wheelbase and improved weight distribution. Going fast, it has the body control and refinement of a mini-grand tourer. The stiffer body and quieter interior all add up to an unusually high level of luxury for this segment.

Visually, the A3 Cabriolet stands out for its brushed aluminium windscreen frame and sports seats in a leather-seude combo. The upholstery has an infrared reflecting colour pigment to reduce latent heat, with hollowed sections in the seatbacks for improved rear legroom.

Included in the high-end trim are touch-sensitive map reading lights, which are unique to the Cabriolet.

This luxurious compact convertible with its big car drive is a surprisingly complete soft top.

CAR INFORMATION

Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI S-tronic Ambiente Plus (A)

Price

:$201,450

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,395 cc

Horsepower

:

123 bhp / 6,000 rpm

Torque

:

200 Nm / 4,000 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) S-tronic

Acceleration

:

9.3 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

212 km/h