Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI Ambiente – Sleekness redefined
There has been much debate over the practicality of soft-tops (otherwise known as cabriolets), especially in tropical climates such as in Singapore. In a bold stereotypical categorisation, the elderly would brush cabriolets off as impractical and “easily dirtied” (presumably from the fact that road dust would blast your faces and interior trims if you drive with the top down).
However, the younger executives seem to have a different opinion over the use of cabriolets. From descriptions such as sleek, cool, to perhaps it being a chick magnet, cabriolets are gaining popularity here, although enthusiasts we spoke to admitted to only dropping the top either at the beach or while cruising at night.
We dare say that car manufacturers have a tough job in putting together a cabriolet – we thought that the BMW E64 6-Cabriolet looked unusually not in proportion, not to mention the rest in this class. It takes a huge amount of effort balancing the proportions of the black clothed roof and making sure it exudes awe and style instead of awkwardness.
And in this aspect, we must say that Audi has succeeded in introducing a more proportionate and stylish A3 Cabriolet.
Riding on the same platform as the A3 sedan, the A3 Cabriolet boasts smooth curves and lines across its 4,421 mm body length. Compared to its predecessor, the new A3 Cabriolet looks more aggressive with a redesigned bumper throwing out its road presence despite its size.
Up in front, Audi retains the A3’s inverted eyebrow daytime-running lights, ensuring that your A3 Cabriolet stands out from afar, complimented with its one-piece grille.
Having driven a couple of convertibles/cabriolets, one main grouse of ours would be the ability to retract/extend the roof on the move. Conveniently, the A3 Cabriolet allows you to do so up to a speed of 50 km/h, although we found it rather scary to travel at that speed with the roof in operation.
Drivers of the old Audi A3 Cabriolet would notice the increase in rear legroom in the new Cabriolet, given the increase in wheelbase and width (28 mm wider than its predecessor).
The interior trim proves pretty much the same as the sedan and Sportback – we call it the minimalist look compared to the rest of Audi’s clustered control panels. The only difference would perhaps be the presence of the roof switch located just below the MMI knob.
We all know the pain of crawling into a two-door even with its roof down for soft-tops. However, the A3 Cabriolet’s rear seats didn’t present as much a tedious job as it could have for rear passengers, thanks to its wider and increased legroom. It is still cramped, with space for just two adults, but undeniably better than most in its class.
And while Audi claims the boot space could easily swallow a medium sized baggage, it still looked a tad small, just the way people would claim of cabriolets – “non-existent boot space”.
Compared to its predecessor, the new A3 cabriolet offers a new driving experience with a 1.4 litre TFSI engine rather than its old 1.8 plant. The car puts out 125 horses with 200 Nm of torque, seamlessly making it to the century mark in just below 9.5 seconds.
This comes as a relief to potential buyers – the car falls perfectly into the Category A COE band, with a 1,395 cc turbocharged inline 4, and most importantly of all, being emplaced nicely below the 130 bhp limit.
Similar to the rest of the Audi/Volkswagen range, the A3 Cabriolet feels seamless when taking off from the lights and overtaking. Sure, you don’t get the push from an S-range torque curve, but 200 Nm complimented with Volkswagen’s 7-speed gearbox zips you off pretty fast.
And while most of us would expect cabriolets to have ungodly insulation and road handling, the Audi A3 Cabriolet impresses with minimal road noise (for a soft-top), as well as the ability to handle the many bumps and uneven surfaces on our roads.
It has been a long while since we have seen a proportionate cabriolet. With dimensions crafted to perfection, as well as the tweaking and performance of the turbocharged inline-4 engine, we dare say the result is probably a “close-to-perfect” cabriolet.
Power, check. Fuel economy, check. Sleek and stylish design, check. And with that, while it may not be practical for families lugging strollers or child seats, the Audi A3 proves to be an ideal choice for the adventure-seeker yearning for the wind-in-your-ears experience.
Stylish design compared to its predecessor. Legroom at the rear feels reasonably more than the old A3 Cabriolet.
We don’t like:
You can barely see out of the rear windscreen panel when the top is up. Boot space is virtually non-existent, but that should jolly well be expected when choosing a cabriolet.