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Audi A3 Cabriolet 35TFSI First Drive Review

What is it?

If the sight of a convertible ever tugged at your heart, then the Audi A3 Cabriolet is one that can easily lure you, especially in that lip-smacking shade Audi calls ‘Vegas Yellow’. And we can’t help but state that it was an attention grabber as long as it was in the hands of our testers. Regardless of age, everyone just dropped their jaws at the sight of this car, and it is this experience which makes up the A3 Cabriolet’s ultimate selling point. 

Let’s dive into the details now. Audi had to shorten the wheelbase and length by 42mm and 35mm, and drop features like electric seats and keyless entry to shave the weight off the A3 Cabriolet. However, its still weighs 75kg more than its four-door sibling. What sets this iteration apart from the A3 sedan, primarily, is the fabric-soft roof with colour options that include black, grey or red. It is designed to fold in 18 seconds flat and will function while the car does speeds of up to 50kmph. You also get the gorgeous two-door setup with aluminium trim framing the exterior side windows and A-pillar, along with the redesigned air dams on the front bumper. At the rear, the A3 Cabriolet gets a boot-mounted stop lamp and a mildly restyled lower bumper section around the exhaust. 

Let’s delve deeper and fill you in on this exciting convertible.

How is it on the inside?

Once you fling those charming rimless doors open and get seated in the A3 Cabriolet, you’ll appreciate the fine quality levels along with the premium fit and finish in this cabin. Though it is primarily draped in a black shade, silver trim is used extensively to highlight each and every detail and to give it a pristine look. A wide dashboard with a sleek retractable screen, and four distinct air-vents that redirect cooled air remarkably well can also be seen. And did we forget to mention the view out of the car? With the roof up, the enormous window area (no B-pillar) offers brilliant side-area visibility along with an airy feel. On the downside though, we thoroughly missed having electrically operated seats, and the start/stop button on this flamboyant convertible.

Let’s move on to the front seats now. They have lots of contours and cushioning that impart adequate support for the back and thighs. There’s even a reasonable amount of knee and head room here too. At the rear, the well-cushioned rear seats have an appropriate back rest angle. But that’s just about it. Adults will find it cramped, and the only way some knee-room is liberated is if the front occupants wind their seats all the way ahead. But then too, you just can’t run away from the fact that the rear will be a squeeze. This is an  after-effect of Audi clipping the wheelbase and length to keep the weight under check.

Also, despite there being enough head room, rear seat passengers will have to duck their heads while the roof-folding mechanism is functioning. Not to forget that rear seat occupants have to make do with three cup-holders and a front seatback net to store their belongings. This finally brings us to the boot space that shrinks from the A3 sedan’s 425-litres to 320-litres, in light of making space for the folding soft top. Though the enclosure is wide, it isn’t as deep and tall as you’d have liked it. So, stowing away large suitcases in that boot is out of the question, however, it should work for a small suitcase and some soft bags, at the most. What adds to the boot’s versatility is that both rear seats can drop down by yanking at the levers located on either side of the boot. 

Some of the features you get with the Audi A3 Cabriolet are the Audi phone box with wireless charging, Audi sound system that includes a Bang and Olufsen unit with a single CD player, MMI and smartphone interface along with a multifunction flat-bottom steering with paddle shifters. There’s also the front and rear parking sensors with a rear view camera, LED headlamps with rear dynamic indicators, electrically adjustable and folding mirrors with heating function, adaptive brake lamps, five airbags, ASR, ABS with EBD and ESC.

How does it drive?

The A3 Cabriolet now gets a petrol 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 150bhp between 5000-6000rpm, and 250Nm of torque ranging from 1500rpm to 3500rpm. It replaces the earlier 177bhp 1.8-litre motor which surprisingly made the same torque output. Power is laid down on the road through the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Now, this 1.4-litre motor runs by ‘cylinder-on-demand’ which gets two of the cylinders to shut down at low output requirements. On the whole, this engine is refined until around 4500rpm after which it tends to get noisy.

There aren’t any modes for the engine but the gearbox gets two modes: ‘D’ and ‘S’ which are actuated by tapping the lever. The main difference here is that the  ‘D’ mode is less responsive than the ‘S’ mode. S mode is quicker as the gear box holds the lower gears to serve instant response as soon as the accelerator pedal is depressed.This DSG ‘box is quick to shift and responds extremely well, however, there is a tendency for it to make the power output jerky, especially at lower speeds.

Off the mark, the DSG transmission bogs down a bit to prevent a proper launch to save the gearbox. However, once on the move, this motor pulls in an extremely linear fashion with a mid-range surge at about 1800rpm, all the way up to the 6200rpm red-line. It flashes past the 100kmph mark in 9.65sec, and it takes all of 22.39sec to reach 150kmph before hitting a top whack of 220kmph. Since the motor is so smooth, it masks the feeling of speed and a glance at the speedo was what brought us to reality. Even the driveability tests of 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph in kick-down, which were clocked in 5.36sec and 6.69sec respectively, were accomplished in a relaxed and composed manner without any racket.

Since convertibles lack the structural rigidity of their hard top siblings, there is some flex that is usually witnessed. The A3 Cabriolet too lets out a slight judder when traversing bumpy sections of our roads. However, the ride quality of the A3 Cabriolet, like the A3 sedan, truly impressed us with the absorbent ride at low speeds, especially over harsh bumps. As the momentum rises, it continues to just absorb bumps with ease while showing off a flat and planted feel that’s quite reassuring. There’s no suspension noise either.

What also aids this well-judged suspension setup to derive this favourable output is the higher profile that comes with the 205/55 R16 tyres used here. With the grip from these tyres and a steering that’s pretty direct, you will enjoy going around bends as the A3 Cabriolet’s road manners, though not sharp, is quite predictable. Again, this is despite there being some amount of body roll too. While on the go, we also noticed that road noises filter through to the cabin from the rear portion when the roof is up. On the braking front, the A3 Cabriolet brakes with reasonable confidence and there’s enough feedback from the brake pedal to know what’s happening at the wheels.

Should I buy one?

Audi sells the A3 35TFSI Cabriolet with a price tag of Rs 47.98 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). What goes against this car are the absence of features like a start/stop button, keyless entry and electric seats. Also, the rear seats are cramped with limited stowage options, the boot space has shrunk in comparison to the A3 sedan, and the gearbox gets the power delivery to be jerky at slower speeds. 

Nevertheless, one gets a unique open air experience with the A3 Cabriolet, there’s comfortable front seats with brilliant visibility out of the side windows with the roof up, and quality of materials along with fit and finish is top notch. Owners will also appreciate the refined motor with a quick transmission, the efficiency from the cylinder-on-demand tech, and the immaculate ride and handling combo. 

The A3 Cabriolet undoubtedly makes more sense to a buyer who already owns a few cars, but still needs one that can be useable enough to ride with a smallcompany while attracting the world’s attention. Do we really need to say anything more here?

Where does it fit in?

The Audi A3 35TFSI Cabriolet goes on to compete with cars like the Mini Cooper convertible. While the former costs Rs 47.98 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi), the Mini Cooper convertible is available at Rs 34.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). 

Pictures: Kapil Angane

 

New Audi A3 launched at Rs 30.5 lakh

New Audi A3 launched at Rs 30.5 lakh

Audi A3 Cabriolet launched at Rs 47.98 lakh

 

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Audi A3 Cabriolet Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 64.75 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 63.18 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 58.2 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 61.52 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 60.67 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 55.89 Lakhs onwards
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