What's the used Audi A3 sports like?
It’s fair to say we Brits love our open-top cars, gobbling up more of them than most of our European counterparts, despite the vagaries of our weather patterns. Those seeking a premium car of modest size and price that can, at the touch of a button, offer some wind-in-the-hair fun could do a lot worse than seek out a used version of the Audi A3 Cabriolet, a previous What Car? Car of the Year award winner in the convertible category.
The A3 Cabriolet was based on the underpinnings of one of our favourite family cars, the Audi A3 Sportback, so you'd expect it to be good, and it is. Alas when the Sportback was replaced by an all-new car in 2020 the convertible Cabriolet version was dropped from the range, so your only hope of getting one now is used.
Diesel fanciers can choose from a 1.6 TDI in either 109bhp or 114bhp versions, or a 2.0 TDI in 148bhp and torque-rich 181bhp forms, that all offer the advantage of improved economy.
After a major facelift in 2016, some of the petrol engines were replaced with newer versions that put out fewer particulate emissions. The 148bhp 1.5 TFSI (known as the 35 TFSI) replaced the older 1.4, while the 1.8 was replaced by a 187bhp 2.0 TFSI. There was also an updated S3 version that had a 306bhp turbocharged petrol engine and four-wheel drive. It offered astonishing performance, with acceleration times that could truly dazzle.
Compared to the previous generation model, this A3 Cabriolet has precise steering and tight handling, as well as excellent refinement, even though it uses a lightweight fabric roof as opposed to the folding metal kind preferred by some rivals. It can even be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 31mph, with the whole operation taking just 18sec from start to finish.
It’s hard not to be impressed by the classy, high-quality interior. The layout and amount of space up front is familiar to anyone used to the standard A3, but there's a little less room in the back for two full-sized adults. Mind you, that's often the way with open-top cars, and most people will be able to cope with a short trip without losing circulation to their limbs.
Audi’s standard-fit Multi Media Interface (MMI) allows you to control most of the car’s major functions through a chunky rotary dial and a small collection of buttons located between the front seats. It’s a simple system to use, and some of the shortcut keys are raised to help find the one you want by touch.