The New 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet Review
The 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet is another spin off of the hugely successful Audi A3. One thing for sure with this 2nd generation model – it’s a VAST improvement of its predecessor. Have Audi made a relatively affordable compact convertible that we would all want in our driveway?
The 1st generation of the Audi A3 Cabriolet was a great machine on paper – efficient, a good drive with a great range of engines, high build quality, a classy interior… but it lacked that one important aspect that is absolutely essential in any drop top convertible – desirability. Because the underpinnings were that of the hatchback model, the shape of the cabriolet was inevitably short and dumpy and thus spectacularly unsexy. Audi have rectified this design flaw by instead using the underpinnings of the A3 saloon model as a base, meaning it’s longer (by 183mm), wider (by 28mm) and lower (by 15mm). A much better foundation for a sexy compact convertible I’m sure you’ll agree.
The 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet is a much more dynamic looker with a sleek very Audi design which is enhanced by tornado lines and superb detailing. It’s also 80kg lighter than the previous model due to ultra-lightweight construction. With the roof up, it is clearly shaped to replicate the style of the A3 Saloon’s fixed top. The whole process of raising the roof takes all of 18 seconds and can be done while moving up to 31mph. Inside with the roof up, the noise is almost as if it’s a proper “fixed to” model if you have the acoustic roof fitted. It’s well worth investing in. The cabin is as you might expect with all the usual technical goodness and a classy yet minimalistic design which simply can’t be matched by anything else in this class. The clever Audi MMi infotainment screen pops up smoothly at the top of the dash and is controlled by the left hand controls with an optional touchpad on top of the dial. There are also a vast array of amazing connectivity options here – basically there is a lot here to suggest that this is what 21st century motoring is all about. The rear seats have benefited greatly from the expanded wheelbase of the saloon underpinnings so that you can fit a couple of adults comfortably in the back without too much trouble. It is still a far cry to say that it is spacious though, but then again you’d have the same story in any cabriolet class car. Moving into the boot, with the roof down, the oddly shaped compartment gives 275ltrs of space which isn’t a vast amount by any means, but with the fabric roof up it expands to a class leading 320ltrs – more substantial than rival fabric tops such as the VW Golf Cabriolet (by a whole 70ltrs!). This becomes a healthy 678ltrs with the rear seats folded down.
To drive, compact convertibles are notoriously difficult to balance well with driving dynamics. The Audi technicians have clearly given this a lot of thought. Although you can’t entirely get rid of the shake on poor surfaces, it isn’t nearly as noticeable as you might expect it to be. This is especially true if, oddly enough, you stay with the standard suspension rather than opting for the sporty spec variations. This is predominantly because this, more than most cars, was purely not meant for that kind of package to be effective. The ride can be improved even further with the Audi magnetic ride system for clever dampening. This system works in conjunction with the Drive Select system, which controls the drive dynamic based on a number of self-explanatory modes depending on your mood. With all that in place then you can really enjoy the ride that the 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet gives you (unless you’re attempting the land speed record – then it gets a bit shaky). There’s still a bit of vagueness when steering but it is quickly eclipsed by its amazing grip and how brilliant it is at handling corners. It’s also worth noting that it is best to avoid the S-tronic automatic transmission in favour of the manual stick shift as it completely outperforms the auto configuration.
The engines are like much of the A3 line – best to stay away from the entry level models. Most will go for the 150ps 2.0ltr TDi Diesel (0-62mph in 8.9 seconds/ top speed of 139mph) but a better choice would probably be the 140ps 1.4ltr TDSi petrol unit which is as efficient due to being fitted with the clever Audi COD (cylinder on demand) technology that cuts out unneeded cylinders when cruising at low to mid speeds for superior economy. It performs just as well as the diesel and is considerably less noisy. There are more engines up the range should you have a need for speed. Engines such as the 180ps 1.8ltr TFSi or the 184ps 2.0ltr TDi (7.8secs/150mph) ending at the top of the range S3 model Quattro 4WD and 300ps to play around with. This 2.0ltr turbocharged TFSi unit can reach 0-62mph in 5.4 seconds up to a top speed of 155mph.
So what’s the low down on the 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet? A new shape has vastly improved the looks of the 2nd generation Audi A3 Cabriolet, which, when combined with impressive Audi engineering, finally gives this car the desirability factor it needed to be the cabriolet it always should have been. The 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet has matured, and as long as you don’t go crazy on sports suspension and other pricey extras that threaten already good ride quality, you should be on to a winner with this classy convertible.