Audi’s A3 Droptop: A Posh Open Air Experience

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (2)

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (1)[3]2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (3)

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (4)2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (5)

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (6)2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (7)

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys

 

Yes yes yes oh YES: smooth engines and DSG, quality feel of fittings, subtle styling, smooth roof

Oh dear me no: Needs special USB adaptor cable, cheap-feeling steering wheel, devilishly difficult satnav input, too many expensive options

All convertibles are fabulous, period. So what about this little Audi A3?

Audi is subtle and elegant. Driving an Audi is like being in the tasteful lounge room of an IT mogul. You are surrounded by leather and metal that looks to have been properly designed not merely picked from a parts bin.

It is built on VW’s new “scalable” MQB platform. Think of is as the base on which many different VW group models can be built. It can be upsized and can take many different engines which are all fixed at the same point so the engine, pedals and front axle are the same. VW uses MQB in Seat, Skoda, Audi, and of course Volkswagen and it has proved very capable. Claims that an Audi is A VeeDub in a pretty frock are just silly. Many car companies use the same engines and platforms throughout their ranges. It is simply an ingenious way to cut costs while keeping quality up.

We drove the diesel ($52,200) but you can get petrol (1.4 @ $47,600, 1.8 @ $52,200, 1.8 quattro @ $55,200) if you like something a bit quieter, not that the diesel is that noisy. Prices don’t include on-road costs.

OUTSIDE:

You’ll notice the roof is a soft top and the A3 is the better for it. A soft tops bring back the halcyon days of motoring. Memories of boaters and blazers, parasols and plimsolls, and picnics served by powder-wigged flunkies are alive and well. Hard tops might be more secure but they take up vast amounts of space, ruin the shape of the rear end, and can’t be operated while the car is moving. The Audi’s roof can be opened or closed at up to 50kph. Its roof gives the car an elegant shape when deployed, and when stowed gives a sleek and smooth silhouette. It means that should you decide to lower the roof at lights, you can move off at any time without holding the traffic up. There is nothing worse than having to stop, apply the parking brake, wait for the roof to go up or down, then releasing the brake to drive off again. It puts the plebs into a frightful temper and they honk their horns and shout the most unpleasant obscenities.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (8)2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (12)

The head and tail lights feature LEDs which are thoroughly 21st century. They were done by a couple of blokes in white coats working on nothing else for eons, being sustained only by sips of Glühwein and bites of big German sausage. I’ve long thought Audi do the best lights in the business.

There isn’t a world of difference between the various trim levels because most of the difference is in options and engines. There is a front wheel drive diesel option, 2 petrol front wheel drive options, and a petrol all-wheel drive. All engines have turbo with little or no lag.

Inside:

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (10)2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (9)

Trés chic! What you see is leather, metal, and quality manmade materials. Only the steering wheel doesn’t quite feel up to par.

Rather thoughtfully, the front seat backs have neat (optional) hot air vents at neck level and seat heating for those frosty evenings. Unless the weather comes over all moody, no convertible should ever be driven with the roof down, in fact it ought to be law. Even with the roof down you always feel warm and cosy. The cabin’s cosy ambience is further enhanced with stylish flourishes which imbue a mood of mid-century-modern inner city loft. Apart from the slightly nasty feel of the steering wheel, the switches and levers feel like they’ll outlast humanity.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet gaycarboys (11)I particularly like the face level vents which have an art deco look about them. The LCD screen doesn’t have touch input, it uses a console mounted rotary knob with a touchpad on top. There is also a weirdly placed volume knob/toggle placed on the console nearby. That is also where the electric park brake and roof control switches are located. The LCD screen can be lowered if the mood takes you. A button will magically make it vanish into a dash-top compartment. I can’t think why you would ever need to do it as the screen displays all the important stuff including the satnav.

You won’t find much room in the back but you can still squeeze a couple of chaps in for short trips. The airport runs will be limited though as the bijou luggage space is fit for more for a duo of overnight bags than luggage for 4.

The tech stuff and the drive:

The 3 engines (110kw 1.4L petrol, 132kw 1.8L petrol and 110kw 2.0L diesel) come with VW’s double clutch DSG auto. The 1.4/1.8 front wheel drives get a 7 speed and the Diesel front wheel drive and Quattro All-wheel drive get a 6 speed, which seems odd. There are also the silly nomenclatures of “Attraction” and “Ambition” for the trim levels. It made me gringe a little. Can you imagine telling someone you have an Audi attraction or Audi ambition? No I think not.

I’m happy to report a sublime drive experience. The DSG can be put in sports mode by selecting drive, then giving the lever a second tug which then makes the gears hold longer. You can amp the engine up a bit by selecting the various drive modes with an aptly named Drive Mode selector switch. With sport mode selected in both, the chassis is firm, gears changes snappy, and throttle responses sharp. The pesky stop/start function is disabled too which when enabled, is annoying beyond belief. When you stop at lights the engine is extinguished and only starts again when the car thinks you might want to move off. Sadly it seems to be the norm rather than the exception.

In sports mode the open top touring is a joy but you might be surprised to learn city driving is as much fun. There is something engaging about being part of the busy traffic. With the windows and roof down you can still enjoy a degree of comfort on warm days. The air conditioning remembers your setting with the roof in either position. You might like the air on 17c with the roof down but 23c with the cabin enclosed. You won’t need to touch the climate controls, simply raise or lower the roof.

Comfort mode is nice around town with soft compliant ride. The acoustic hood lining is rather annoyingly part of the comfort package which also includes seat and neck heating, smart key and folding/dipping mirrors ($1990). The lane departure, high beam assistant, radar cruise control, side assist and Audi Pre Sense are part of the driver assist package ($1800). The really cool stuff like upgraded sound, SatNav (including rotary control with touch input), Auto Parking with rear view camera, and the Driver Information System make up the Technik package ($2650). You can get fancier lighting in the style package with LED and daytime running lights for a further 2 grand. If you add the S Line package with the sports suspension, fancier leather and fancier steering wheel, you’ll add $4,200 with 18” wheels or $5200 with 19” wheels. If you upgraded you A3 with these options, you’d add a further $13640. If you pay a further $1750, you’ll also get the smashing Bang and Olufsen sound system. A lot of dosh for sure but you can take as much or as little as you like. It is such a shame that the really good stuff isn’t standard especially at this price point. The Quattro is the top model and on the road is $60,986 in NSW. If you fully loaded your A3 the price jumps to, wait for it, $76,286.

You get auto parking and rearview camera standard in a 35 grand commodore ute, surely you can expect it in a 60K Audi? We drove the diesel at $57,691 (on road NSW) which was fitted with several options.

Creeping into driveways caused creaking noises in the roof which suggests a bit of body flexing but you don’t notice it on the road, and it is on the road where any misgivings evaporate. The A3 is fabulous. Most of the time was spent in the city and on freeways but it would be remiss of me not to have taken it through the Royal National Park.

Sunburn aside, tight turns, steep climbs, long sweeping bends and fast straights were simply glorious. Nothing is too much trouble for it and each request was obeyed without question. You never feel you’re beyond the A3’s capabilities. A road trip for two would mean having a large-ish case in the boot and the rest in the back seat. I’ve done this many times and while it looks untidy, being topless on a highway is the most fun you can have standing up.

There is surprisingly little wind with the windows down, but you are not at all ruffled with the windows up. Unless pressed, the engine is almost silent and the only thing you can hear is bell birds and cicadas. Open top cars are generally far quitter than you might think, and with the roof up have no more cabin noise than a sedan, but far more class.

We took the A3 out of a coolish night. We tested both the seat heating and neck warmers but it was rather like lighting a fireplace in the middle of summer just for the moody atmosphere. They worked well but brought on a midlife sweat.

You could easily drive a thousand K roadtrip and get out as fresh as a daisy. For me, flexibility is the true test of a car. Sunday drives, naughty breaks away, Bunnings, and sporty things on the weekend, and grocery shopping and drives to work during the week. If you can have a daily driver that is truly desirable, then so much the better.

Although diesels are not my preferred engine choice, I would not feel put out if it was my only option. We couldn’t get near the claimed fuel consumption of 4.6L/100. However, a trip from Sydney to Melbourne could still be done on a single tank of juice so does it really matter?

Conclusion:

Delicious.

There were a few niggles but I enjoyed every moment in the Audi. It was quiet, comfortable and refined. I love A3’s less-posh sister, the Golf convertible. It is similarly fun to drive but is built on the old platform. I could live with either and the Golf is 15 grand cheaper. The real question is would I pay extra for the Audi? Well, if I was hard up for cash I would buy the Golf but I’d happily spend the extra on the A3. I’d need a few additional creature comforts as well so one or two packages would be essential.

Would I buy one? I’ve just said so haven’t I?

model

1.4L TFSI

1.8L TFSI

1.8Ltfsi Quattro

2.0L diesel

Price on road NSW

$52,861

$57,691

$60,986

$57,691

engine

4cyl turbo on demand

4cyl turbo

4cyl turbo

4cyl turbo diesel

Power/torque

110kw/250Nm

132kw/250Nm

132kw/280Nm

110kw/340Nm

transmission

7sp S tronic

7sp S tronic

6sp S tronic

6sp S tronic

Fuel cons L/100k

4.9

5.8

6.6

4.6

Co2

114

133

154

120

Advertisements

Tell us what you think. We promise to reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s