The best of the engines is the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol. The 2.0-litre turbo is gutsier still, but not worth the sizeable step up in price. The entry-level 1.6 diesel isn’t as fast as the bigger engines, but it seldom feels underpowered, unless the car is fully loaded.
The 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel is very strong across the rev range, making it tempting for those who want decent performance and low running costs. The more powerful (181bhp) version of this engine is certainly punchier on the move but doesn’t make enough of a difference given the amount it costs.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard but Audi’s automatic S tronic gearbox is an option on most engines and standard with quattro four-wheel drive. It offers super-fast shifts but is a little jerky at low speeds, particularly when parking.
There’s also an S3 version that has a 306bhp turbocharged petrol engine and four-wheel drive. It offers astonishing performance, with acceleration times that can rival a Porsche Boxster; but, for us, the calmer engines suit the A3 Cabriolet’s relaxed character much better.