19 Mar 2014

2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet Review

Matt Hubbard drives the 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI Sport S-tronic

2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet

The new Audi A3 cabriolet is a rather handsome thing.  This is helped by the addition of 18cm in length over the previous model which, it could be said, looked a little squat.

That 18cm increases boot space and adds some knee room in the rear seats.  The roof is fabric which aids packaging and reduces space in the boot over a folding hard top as well as making it look pretty fine with the roof up too.

The new A3 cabriolet is 2.8cm wider than the old one, and the wheelbase is 1.7cm longer.  It sits 1.5cm lower too.

The front end has the Audi corporate grille and new, grumpy looking headlights, and is finished off with a lip spoiler at the bottom.  The flanks look similar to those on the A3 saloon with a sharp crease across the top and a rising crease along the bottom.  The rear end is nice and tidy with a lip spoiler, twin exhausts and the hood hidden away under a flat panel.  The boot space isn't too bad for a convertible.

The interior is very dark.  It's almost exactly the same as in the S3 saloon.  There's a fair amount of black plastic but this is tempered with leather and aluminium trim.

The new vents that resemble jet turbines look spiffing and the steering wheel looks and feels fine.  There are plenty of cubby holes with two cupholders, door pockets, a decent space under the armrest and the glovebox.
2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet interior

The seats look and feel rather special.  They're clad in leather and 'velvet leather' which looks and feels like suede or Alcantara.  They're pretty comfortable and supportive.

You get two screens in the A3 cabriolet.  One between the dials and one which silently whirrs out of the top of the dash when you press the Start button.  The main dash mounted screen is controlled by a dial and buttons just behind the gear lever.  It houses and controls audio/media and satnav.

The stereo gets DAB digital radio as standard with Bluetooth, FM, CD and auxiliary functions.  A phone can be charged via the USB port under the armrest.

The satnav is Audi's own.  It works fine and uses full postcodes if the driver wants.  The car uses Google Maps to track traffic and create alternative routes if necessary.

All in all the tech side of the A3 cabriolet is a success.  Everything works fine, nothing is glitchy and it all just operates smoothly in the background.

The 1.8 comes with a 7-speed S tronic gearbox.  This is a double clutch automatic which means the gear changes are nice and precise - and fast.

The engine is Audi's 1.8 TFSI.  A 1.4 TFSI and 2.0TDI are also available.  The 1.8 is the most powerful in the A3 cabriolet with 178bhp and 184lb ft of torque.
2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet

The driving position is perfectly suited to most shapes and sizes.  I like to sit low with the pedals as far away as possible and the car accommodates this well with masses of adjustment from the seat and steering wheel.  With the seat almost all the way back there was still just about enough room in the rear for a back seat passenger.

The engine, gearbox and steering are variable and can be tuned according to comfort, auto, efficiency and dynamic programmes.  After playing with the various systems I found dynamic gave the best combination of ride and throttle response, although probably not the best economy.

The A3 cabriolet is front wheel drive (although a quattro version will be available later in 2014).  This has its upsides and downsides.

The downside is that 178bhp is quite a lot of power to push through the front wheels and you can sometimes feel them scrabbling for grip, especially coming out of corners or pulling out of junctions.

The upside is that the steering feel is much more natural than in four wheel drive Audis.  It's responsive and communicates with the road well, and more so than in the cabrio's S3 saloon sibling.

In fact the A3 cabriolet is a proper barrel of laughs to drive.  It's light enough, has enough power, the brakes are great, the gearbox is smooth and quick to change and the handling is good enough to have a ball.
2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Turbo lag can be a minor issue when pulling away from junctions.  Maximum torque kicks in at 1,250rpm, which is pretty much just after the turbo spools up.  Once past this though the closely spaced gearbox mean it's not an issue.

On the road the ride is composed and the suspension absorbs lumps and bumps well.  Motorway miles are aided by easy to use adaptive cruise control and light steering.  With the roof down, and the windows up, buffeting is minimal, although you will need to turn up the heater.

The Audi A3 Cabrio isn't a cheap car but then again it is a premium brand, and car - with the usual Audi refinement and interior.  If £30k for the 1.8 TFSI is a bit too much to swallow the 1.4 TFSI 6-speed manual costs £25,790, returns 56mpg and costs £30 a year to tax - and it'll do 0-60mph in 9.1 seconds.

Audi reckons the 1.4 and 2.0 TDI will make up the bulk of sales, but don't discount the 1.8 TFSI, its extra speed and S-tronic gearbox are worth the extra cash.

Cabriolet versions of existing hatchbacks and saloons can sometimes look and drive like a dog's dinner but the A3 Cabrio is handsome, stylish, fun to drive and efficient.

I liked it a lot.


Price - £30,270
Engine - 4-cylinder, 1.8-litre
Transmission - 7-speed, automatic
0-62mph - 7.8 seconds
Top Speed - 150mph (limited)
Power - 178bhp
Torque - 184lb ft
Economy - 48.7mpg
CO2 - 133g/km
Kerb Weight - 1,430kg
2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet interior

2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet

2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet boot

Review by Matt Hubbard