Audi A3 Cabriolet - Engines, drive & performance

The Audi A3 Cabriolet is a competent performer, but not as much fun to drive as a BMW 2 Series convertible

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

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Before you buy any convertible, it's worth knowing that removing a structural roof almost always has a negative effect on a car's performance. That's because losing the roof reduces the stiffness of the vehicle – only the floor now connects the front and back of the car. To solve this problem, manufacturers make the floor stronger, but that adds weight (170kg in the Audi A3 Cabriolet compared to the hatchback), which in turn hurts performance.

Audi is better at masking the shortfalls of convertibles than many of its rivals and at normal speeds the A3 Cabriolet behaves like a normal Audi A3. But, like the A3 hatchback, the Cabriolet isn't the car we'd recommend to a driving purist – it falls well behind the BMW 2 Series if you're after driving fun. However, it resists body lean well and has enough grip to satisfy most people’s needs.

Fitting four-wheel drive doesn't make the A3 Cabriolet more fun to drive, but the extra grip it offers will be invaluable on slippery roads. Sport and S line models are even better in corners, but they have bigger wheels and stiffer suspension, so you may want to specify the SE version's softer suspension, which is a no-cost option.

Audi A3 Cabriolet diesel engines

It’s impossible to argue with the superb fuel economy of the 1.6-litre A3 diesel, but its performance isn't much to write home about for a sporty cabriolet – 0-62mph takes 11.4 seconds. Choosing the 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel knocks more than two seconds off that 0-62mph time, but it feels even quicker than the figures suggest.

Petrol engines

The 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine makes a strong case for itself. It's the cheapest model to buy in the range, but is much quicker than the entry-level diesel, with 0-62mph taking 8.9 seconds. The 187bhp 2.0-litre petrol model does the same sprint in 7.3 seconds. The 296bhp S3 is the quickest of all – it's limited to a top speed of 155mph and takes just 5.4 seconds to dash from 0-62mph.

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