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Audi A3 Cabriolet Facelift Review & Performance

Jul 11, 2018

INTRODUCTION ;

Cabernet Franc is a black grape grown just to make Cabernet Sauvignon wine from it. The wine one of the most widely preferred one and it is a hybrid of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Making wine is complicated, and so is designing a cabriolet. Because a cabriolet also has a fixed hard top version and both the designs need to be impressive. A cabriolet buyer looks at a car differently from a normal car buyer. We have got our hands on Audi’s new A3 Cabriolet, which is certainly the most affordable luxury cabriolet in India. Read further as we take down the top.Check for A3 CabrioletHyundai I10 price in Hyderabad

EXTERIOR AND DESIGN ;

Take a look at the exterior from any angle, and it’s hard to believe that the base of this design has been around for several years now. The 2017 model is essentially a facelift and in typical Audi fashion, the styling upgrades are limited but substantial nonetheless. The updates, in fact, include a new single frame grille and LED headlights featuring the same kink as the new A4. The taillights, too, have different detailing to them and feature dynamic turn indicators.

All in all, the 2017 model, especially in this fiery yellow paint, makes a statement irrespective of whether it’s stationary or on the move. The side profile looks well balanced even with the fabric roof on which can be had in black, grey or red. As for the operability, the roof takes 18 seconds to go up and down and can be operated at speeds of up to 50kmph.

CABIN AND SPACE

The cabin design may appear slightly dull but there is no denying that it’s beautifully made and finished to the standard you would expect of a high-end Audi. Positives inhere include dark black textures, plush leather and good quality materials such as the circular air vents and switchgear on the centre console. Audi has also retained the all-black wraparound dash design with horizontal lines which heighten the sense of width.

Despite the shortened wheelbase, comfort levels up front are on par with the rest of the A3 range. There is more than enough shoulder support and good cushioning. The under thigh support, too, is commendable. What’s definitely better though is the view out when the roof is down - the thin A-pillar, low-set door mounted wing mirrors and the absence of B-pillar all add up to provide brilliant visibility all round. Being a 2+2, you wouldn’t really expect it to accommodate two full-size adults at the back and in truth, it’s barely acceptable for short drives. Still, headroom and legroom is decent and it’s best to keep the rear reserved for kids. That being said, the pair of seats are heavily contoured and as a result, very supportive for those small enough to fit into them. Speaking of squeezing stuff, the boot space has been reduced from the standard A3’s 425-litres to 320-litres to accommodate the roof mechanism. Now although its opening is wide, filling it with large suitcases is plain impossible because of the enclosure’s lack of height and depth.

The 2017 A3 Cabriolet gets wireless phone charging function and full LED headlights as all-new features. It also gets dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors and a 7-inch retractable screen for the MMI infotainment system. What it doesn’t get though are features like start/stop button, keyless entry and electric adjustment for the seats.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

There will be no diesel version of the Audi A3 Cabriolet. The only motor it comes with is the 1.8 TFSI turbo-petrol engine, which sends its 177bhp and 25.5kgm through the front wheels via a seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox. That’s fine by us, as this powertrain is what cemented the A3 sedan as one of our favourite cars to drive in 2014; the diesel version just isn’t as much fun. As ever, the 1.8 TFSI is super smooth and refined, spins quite freely and builds its power in a beautifully linear surge. There are, however, three differences to the driving experience compared to the sedan. For one, you can option a sports steering wheel on the A3 Cabriolet that comes with paddles for shifting gears manually, rather than just using the gearlever as you have to in the sedan. Secondly, the soft-top gets as standard Audi’s Drive Select driving modes – Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual – that alter the powertrain responsiveness as well as steering weight. And finally, with the roof folded, you can hear more of the otherwise silent motor when you open it up a bit, which only adds to the thrill. It makes a pleasing purr at high revs, and in Dynamic mode, delivers a subtle ‘whump’ from the exhaust with every upshift. Lovely.

Another concern with convertibles is that, in removing the roof, the car often loses a lot of its chassis rigidity, which in turn compromises handling and just the overall feeling of solidity. Yes, go over a steep bump and you might be able to sense a slight shudder through the body, but it’s barely there. Put it down to the car’s compact dimensions or just the integral rigidity of the new MQB-platform chassis the A3 is built on, which makes for a nice, taut bodyshell. Where it really matters, though, is in the handling, and we’re happy to report that almost none of the dynamic prowess of the A3 sedan has been lost with the roof cut off. It still darts into corners eagerly, there’s plenty of front-end grip and it just feels light and compact at your fingertips. In fact, the sensation is only amplified with the roof off and the wind in your hair. Find yourself some nice weather and a good road, and you won’t be disappointed.

DRIVING DYNAMICS ;

The Audi A3 Cabriolet gets McPherson struts in the front and a multi-link rear suspension. The ride quality is on the firm side and combined with the large wheels make for a stiff setup. It is plush and almost carpet- like when the tarmac is really good but as soon as the road quality drops, the ride becomes hard once again.

We believe that a major contributing factor to this is the fact that the car is a CBU for India and has been designed keeping the high quality roads found in Europe. The steering is a little dead and there isn’t sufficient feedback to go very hard in the corners. I did not like the brakes as they were spongy and lacked the required initial bite. They are progressive in a manner that will need you to start braking much earlier than you would normally do while driving such a vehicle.

These in all probability are the same brakes on the standard car and it appears Audi has not changed or modified them in any manner in a bid to keep the costs down. The car does get all the standard bells and whistles like ABS with EBD, traction control as well as an ESP. If we look beyond the hard ride, it is easy to notice that the car is fun in the corners and thanks to the stiff setup is able to hold its own more often than not.

SAFETY ;

The Audi A3 Cabriolet hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP but its sedan and hatchback derivatives have received a 5-star rating. The A3 Cabriolet comes with a host of safety features including 5 airbags, rain sensors, light sensors, ABS, EBD, ASR, EDL, ESC and Adaptive brake light. It also gets secondary collision brake assist, rest recommendation system and comes with an electromechanical parking brake. Audi’s dealership network in India is decent and although not the biggest, it is being expanded at a steady pace.

VERDICT ;

Because it is a CBU import, the Audi A3 Cabriolet costs Rs 44.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), or Rs 12 lakh more than the most expensive locally assembled A3 sedan. Now, with your sensible hat on, you might think paying big luxury sedan money for a compact luxury car with compromised practicality makes no sense. But then, that’s missing the point. This isn’t meant to be your first car; it’s meant to be at least your third. It’s a toy you take out for a drive in town at night (don’t try and squeeze in more than one companion though), or on a blast through the Western Ghats on a chilly weekend morning, as we did. With all the other convertibles on sale in India priced north of Rs 70 lakh, the only car that comes close to being competition for the A3 Cabriolet right now is the cheaper but even less practical Mini Cooper Convertible. Like that car, this one is largely a fashion statement that just so happens to be fun to drive too. The soft-top A3 is undoubtedly an indulgence that comes with a number of compromises, but if it's roofless motoring you're after, it’s the most practical option yet.