9.12.2009 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6 TDI review
Slick looking but surprisingly practical and easy to live with convertible, though as usual boot access is awkward. Quite expensive to buy but after that running costs look good with strong residuals and good fuel economy.
A sharper drive than the previous A3 models can encourage a more 'press on' driving style with more wear to tyres and brakes but use of high gears means minimal fuel penalty if you plan ahead.
Review by Russell Bray for Next Green Car.com
PERFORMANCE Return to top
Well proven four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine powers front wheels through five-speed manual gearbox. Stop-start system saves you fuel when engine is warmed up, restarting automatically when you release the clutch. With 184 lbs ft from just 1,500rpm the A3 feels sprightly once rolling. Maximum power is 103bhp at 4,400rpm so cruising is relaxed and regaining pace after a hold-up low stress. Straight line acceleration from rest though is fairly leisurely with 0-62mph in 12.2 seconds. Top speed is 118mph.
HANDLING Return to top
Audis in general are gradually getting more involving and rewarding to drive and less remote. The A3 Cabriolet is reasonably sporty providing you don’t push it too near the edge of its performance envelope. There is plenty of road-holding and the steering precise and some versions I have tried were satisfyingly keen to turn into corners just as you are easing off the brakes. Main impressions are solid, stable and safe and that has worked well for this highly ambitious German manufacturer.
BODY STYLE Return to top
Coupe appearance allied with a lowish stance means that the A3 Cabriolet looks muscular and purposeful whether roof up or down. Roof is two or three layers depending on trim level chosen. Roof up the car is almost as quiet as the hardtop versions. Length: 4238mm. Width 1765mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS Return to top
Luxury interior has hints of the TT Coupe. Best trim I saw was dark piano wood paired with a black red matrix cloth using filaments of real metal woven into the cloth.
Excellent driving position with good seat adjustment and height and reach adjustable steering. Front seat head restraints move closer automatically to reduce whiplash in an accident. Major and minor controls well positioned in the main.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS Return to top
Official fuel economy: Urban 54.3mpg, extra-urban (some out of town) 72.4mpg, combined 65.7mpg, which translates a fuel cost of around 8.7p per mile (or £870 per 10,000 miles if you prefer). CO2 emissions of 114g/km puts the A3 in band C for £35 annual road tax. Insurance group 9. Warranty covers three years/ 60,000 miles.
GREEN CREDENTIALS Return to top
Stop-start system a big fuel saver in city traffic, but you can switch it off if wished. Err, why? Manual gearbox cars have gearchange indicator which suggests when changing up could save you fuel. It's usually pretty accurate too. An 'efficiency programme' also prompts you to close any open windows if you switch on the air conditioning. It will also nag you to turn off the seat heating. CO2 emissions of 114g/km are certainly very good for its class, as is the Next Green Car Rating of 32.
OPTIONAL EXTRAS Return to top
Popular fittings include seven-spoke alloy wheels, cruise control, automatic headlights, wipers and dimming interior mirror, CD player, and climate control air conditioning. Brighten up the cabin with wood inlays, four-spoke leather rimmed steering wheel and extra storage compartments. Options include satellite navigation £850, leather seats £1,000, rear parking sensors £295, cruise control £210.
MODEL SUMMARY Return to top
Model tested: Audi A3 1.6 TDI Cabriolet
Body-style: Three door coupe-convertible
Engine/CO2: 103bhp 1.6 litre turbo-diesel / 114 gCO2/km
Trim grades: Standard, Technik, Sport, S line
On-road price: From £20,645 for 1.6TDI
Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.5 STARS
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