New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet: which is best?

With summer drawing to an end, now’s the time to grab a great deal on a premium convertible. But should you spend your cash on a new Mini Convertible or a used Audi A3 Cabriolet?...

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Alex Robbins
26 August 2018

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet: which is best?

The end of August might not seem like the obvious time to buy a convertible. In fact, most buyers tend to splash their soft-top cash in spring or early summer, ready to enjoy their new pride and joy through the months of sunshine yet to come. But for that very reason, autumn is actually the best time to buy a convertible, since that's when demand is falling away and dealers are looking to get shot of the cars they’ve stocked up on over the summer but failed to sell.

If you don’t want to break the bank, now’s a good time to buy. And if you want the trappings of a premium drop-top without forking out too much, then one of these two could be right up your street.

Fresh out of the showroom, we’ve got the Mini Convertible. It’s just had a facelift, bringing with it revised styling and tweaks to the equipment list, and in Cooper form its 1.5-litre engine is both punchy and frugal. It’s one of the most fashionable convertibles you can buy and great fun to drive.

But if you’re prepared to go for a car that’s a year old rather than brand new, you can have yourself an Audi A3 Cabriolet. The A3 isn’t quite as fashionable as the Mini, but it is more grown up. For the same sort of money as our new Mini will cost, you can get our favourite version of the A3, a 1.5 TFSI Sport, dating from 2017 and with less than 10,000 miles on the clock, making it a very tempting alternative. So, which makes for the best post-summer soft-top deal?

Mini Convertible Cooper List price £24,245 Target Price £22,891 Official fuel economy 50.4mpg (WLTP) Emissions 127g/km CO2 (WLTP) Power 134bhp 0-62mph 8.8sec Top speed 128mph

Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.5 TFSI Sport Price new £29,255 Price today £23,000 Official fuel economy 53.3mpg (NEDC) Emissions 120g/km CO2 (NEDC) Power 148bhp 0-62mph 8.9sec Top speed 138mph

Price today is based on a 2017 model with average mileage and a full service history

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet – interior & equipment

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet: which is best?

These two cars take very different approaches to their interior layouts. Inside the Mini, you’ll find a vast circular binnacle housing the infotainment screen, lots of fun styling touches such as the chrome toggle switches, and funky additions including whizzy colour-changing LEDs. However, while many of the materials feel heavy and high-quality, there are a few lighter, cheaper-feeling bits of plastic lower down in the interior, and the busy design can grow wearisome.

By contrast, the A3’s interior is more sober and less fun. However, despite its more conventional design, it’s still a very pleasant place to be. Materials are high-quality throughout and it’s very easy to find your way around the layout. Some examples will also be fitted with the optional Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the dials with a big screen that offers a more customisable display.

Both cars have infotainment systems that are clear and easy to use, although the A3’s just edges the Mini’s for outright usability, thanks to its larger, clearer screen and better-positioned controls. The A3 wins out on equipment, too, with sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and a digital radio all standard; the Mini gets the latter as standard, but has to make do with standard air conditioning, although it does give you LED front and rear lights – a treat you don’t get on the A3.

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet – space & practicality

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet: which is best?

It’s here that the A3’s larger size comes into its own, with more space in both the front and rear seats. In the back in particular, the extra width means your two passengers probably won’t have to rub shoulders as they will in the Mini, while the more reclined seats mean they’ll be more comfortable too.

That said, don’t imagine the A3 is as spacious as its hatchback sibling; indeed, in neither of these cars will a pair of adults feel too happy about spending a long journey in the rear.

The A3 also has the edge when it comes to boot space. Both cars have boots that grow smaller when their convertible tops are lowered, but it’s the A3’s that’s the larger of the two, boasting almost as much room with the roof up as you’ll find below the parcel shelf in a hatchback.

What’s more, where the A3’s boot opens conventionally, the Mini’s folds down towards you, with the option to lift the lower corners of the roof to load larger items. That makes it just that little bit more awkward to load heavier items. Both cars, fortunately, have rear seats that split and fold so that longer items can be accomodated.

Next: What are they like to drive? >

New Mini Convertible vs used Audi A3 Cabriolet: which is best?