Jim Holder
12 August 2009

What is it?

This is the entry-level Audi A3 Cabriolet, the elegant four-seat BMW 1-series rival that has done much to wow buyers looking for something a bit more upmarket than a Ford Focus coupe-cabriolet, Vauxhall Astra TwinTop or Volkswagen Eos.

The base petrol engine has 101bhp and 109lb ft of torque. It averages 40.4mpg and pumps out 167g/km of carbon dioxide, putting it in VED road tax band H.

What’s it like?

Slow. Getting from 0-62mph takes 12.5sec, but it feels even longer – possibly because the Audi A3 is such a sporty-looking car in the metal. It’s clean, uncluttered look deserves to be complemented by a modicum of performance, and it just doesn’t get anything remotely sprightly with this engine.

It is, however, a refined unit, quiet to all but the highest revs, smooth throughout the range and, as you would expect, reasonably frugal – although the 1.8 TFSI achieves greater economy and the 2.0 TFSI isn’t far behind.

Elsewhere, the A3 continues to impress in most areas. The cabin is well appointed, there’s a decent level of equipment and the driving position is good, adapting to most shapes and sizes of drivers (although taller drivers do get a good buffeting when the roof comes down).

The cloth roof does a pretty good job of insulating you from road and wind noise, while you also need to find a below-average road surface to really notice the shudder and shake that tells you you’re in a cabrio.

Should I buy one?

The A3 Cabriolet is a fine car, managing to do pretty much everything well in a nicely understated way. However, this isn’t the engine the car deserves, and we’d recommend digging deeper to get something with a little more poke.

Join the debate

Comments
16

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

Isn't this the same 8 valve engine that powered late Mk III and early Mk IV Golfs?

A good example of very cynical marketing - put four rings on the front and the punters will buy anything. Bet there's a group of VAG marketing and finance people laughing their socks off at the gullibility of the buying public...

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

cheshire_cab wrote:
A good example of very cynical marketing

I would agree, it's all about keeping the entry level price down. I would expect most people to go for the new 1.6tdi or 1.4tsi as a minimum.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

8v? i havent heard of 8v engines being in new cars since the 1980's.

but i do think this engine is far too old to be in new VAG cars, it not economical or powerful and its heavy. it is cheap, but cheap for VAG not for the buyer. still i'm suprised they use it as it bumps up there average co2 emissions, considering a base 120bhp 1.4tsi could be used instead.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

Although the 1.4 TFSi is a much better engine, for its intended market (i.e. people who want a premium convertible and don't really care about performance) this 1.6 is perfectly adequete. Its probably a better buy than the agricultural 1.9 TDI which although marginally more powerful, costs more and makes a hell of a racket.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

thats true many people buy a car not knowing or caring what the engine is, or probably knowing where it is in the car. they go on looks and sound.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

I think this engine will soon be replaced accross the VAG range by the new 1.2TSI already seen in the Polo and Skoda Yeti. It has similar power, more torque and importantly pumps out far less CO2 and gives better MPG than this 1.6. I would imagine this is just filling a gap in the A3 until availability on the 1.2TSI increases.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

J400uk wrote:
Its probably a better buy than the agricultural 1.9 TDI which although marginally more powerful, costs more and makes a hell of a racket.

The 1.9 has already been replaced by the new 1.6tdi. No idea how good that engine is because I haven't seen a road test yet.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

This is for people who prefer to drive a badge rather than a car!

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

and for those who just wantr a good cheap open top.

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.6

5 years 5 weeks ago

RSkoda wrote:
I think this engine will soon be replaced accross the VAG range by the new 1.2TSI already seen in the Polo and Skoda Yeti. It has similar power, more torque and importantly pumps out far less CO2 and gives better MPG than this 1.6. I would imagine this is just filling a gap in the A3 until availability on the 1.2TSI increases.

Correct, 1.2 TSI should be pretty good. VAG are well ahead of the game as far as small petrol engines are concerned.

Lee23404 wrote:

The 1.9 has already been replaced by the new 1.6tdi. No idea how good that engine is because I haven't seen a road test yet.

Good point, forgot about that. Again in theory should be pretty good.

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Our Verdict

The Audi A3 is now in its third-generation and the premium hatchback ups the ante on quality once more

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