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

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating

5.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

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.

Most Popular

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

2021 scrappage schemes: the complete guide
Scrappage schemes - Ford Focus
Tips and advice
20 Apr 2021

2021 scrappage schemes: the complete guide

Best new car deals 2021
Ford Fiesta
Deals
23 Apr 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Tips and advice
10 Nov 2020

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Best cars
24 Dec 2020

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
1 Feb 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks