What is it?
The new Audi A3 cabriolet, now based around a dimensional architecture better suited to the task of providing room for four, their luggage and accommodating an elaborate fabric folding roof.
It’s also stiffer than before, a fact that’s impressively apparent when you close the roof on the move, which is possible at up to 31mph. The A3 cabriolet’s new-found extra length also produces better balance and more elegant proportioning than previously.
The car is based on the slightly broader, track-widening MQB architecture used by the A3 saloon, making it 28mm wider as well as 183mm longer than the old convertible, its wheelbase stretched by a more modest 17mm. All of which yields more rear seat room and usefully more luggage space.
True, the boot is decidedly burrow-like, but it grows by 60 litres roof-up to provide 320 litres, and 15 extra litres roof-down for a 275 litre total. You get an active rollover protection system and a lid that performs its acrobatics in 18 seconds, but it’s a pity that the desirable folding windbreak is an option. A neck-warming seat ventilation system is also a box-tick away.
There are three engine options at launch, starting with the 138bhp cylinders-on-demand 1.4 TFSI tested here, the 148bhp 2.0 TDI and a 178bhp 1.8 TFSI, which can only be had with a seven-speed S tronic DSG transmission.
The 1.4 TFSI is expected to take a 30 per cent slug of sales - not least because of its impressive 114g/km of CO2, which is just behind the diesel’s 110g/km - although the 1.6 TDI will take the same share when it arrives later, together with a 182bhp 2.0 TDI.
As with the A3 hatch, you can choose from three grades of suspension stiffness and ride height, allowing you to agonise over the play-off between aesthetics and ride comfort. You can also stuff 19in alloys beneath the Cabrio’s arches, although the test car sat on 18ins, with 10mm lower sport suspension.