The Audi A3 Cabriolet was launched in India in December 2014 and within 29 months, almost 1000 examples of this good-looking convertible are plying on our roads. In this midlife update, Audi has gone ahead and plonked it with a downsized engine and tweaked the cosmetics a bit (you could mistake it for the old car, if you aren’t an avid car guy). Are the updates really worth your cheque of half a crore rupees?
The A3 Cabriolet is sold with only a 1.4-litre TFSI engine. At 148bhp, it is almost 30 horses down as compared to the earlier car, although the twist remains the same at 250Nm. Which means, it is also slower to 100kmph by full 1.1 seconds. But where it loses on sheer speed, it gains on fuel efficiency. For a car that weighs almost 1.5 tonnes and makes over 140 horses, the ARAI claimed fuel efficiency figure at 19.20kmpl (improvement of almost 3kmpl over the older car) makes for an astonishing number. And this is achieved by Audi’s smart Cylinder-On-Demand tech that shuts down two cylinders when you’re not going all guns blazing. The power delivery is still seamless and you’ll never be notified of the switchover. Power is delivered to you in correct doses, in a linear fashion, without any fuss or drama. It is not really a scorcher, but then, it’s no slouch either.
The A3 has always been beautiful (not sexy) to look at and in this Vegas Yellow shade, it catches eyeballs as much as a sportscar would. To differentiate from the older car, Audi has treated it with a new bumper that gets wider air dams and the traditional trapezoidal grille. The full LED headlights have slashes at the bottom for an even sleeker look, and obviously, dynamic indicators. The alloys are new too although the tyres are now not so wide as the old ones (205 over 225 section). At the rear, the bootlip is the sexiest part of the design element.
The interior is now finished in all black and oozes quality. There are loads of soft touch materials all over the dash and enough cubby holes for knick-knacks. Our S-Line trim also came with optional wireless charging and an excellent 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo which works great even with the roof down. The steering wheel is flat-bottomed and the controls are easy to reach except the horn which can’t really be operated until you take one of the hands off the wheel. Finally, there’s lack of push start/stop button and electrically adjustable seats. Nothing else to complain, whatsoever.
How’s it to drive?
The Ed had driven the A3 sedan a few months ago and came out praising its ride quality. And I can’t agree more. In the cabriolet form, the A3 is even heavier by 70kg. Being a convertible, the focus is obviously on comfort than on sporty driving. Which means, on a regular day, when you’re heading to work or even cruising on highways, it’ll keep you totally relaxed. Audi has raised the suspension a bit so, obviously there’s some body roll but it means that you don’t hit any speed breakers, even with the long-ish wheelbase. A soft suspension setup means the Cab gets nervous through fast sweeping corners or even high speed manoeuvres. But then when the roof is down, won’t you prefer having your senses alive, just enjoying the horizon?
The steering is direct too and weighs up nicely as you speed up. My only grouse is that, it doesn’t really convey what is happening on the road and takes away from driver involvement. Overall, the Cab is really predictable. Not too exciting but not too shabby either. It’s just perfect to take care of the regular duties. Don’t expect any sportscar magic here.
Is this your only choice?
If you are in the market for a convertible, the A3 Cab is your safest (and one of the most affordable) bet. You have the option of picking a Mini Cooper S Convertible, which is cheaper by a massive Rs 13 lakh. But then, the Cooper S is a brat while the A3 is a mature car. It may not be exciting to drive, but it’s stylish and comfortable, just the way a convertible should be.