From £13,420
Base A3 soft-top is a good car in need of a better engine

What is it?

This is the Audi A3 1.9 TDI cabriolet, the most frugal way to enjoy the open air in an Audi. The A3 1.9 TDI is the entry point into the A3 cabrio range and will return an average of 55.4mpg.

Top-down motoring can be achieved in just nine seconds, and there’s enough room for four adults too.

What’s it like?

As the cheapest diesel A3 cabriolet in the range, the A3 1.9 TDI compares favourably to pricier models, until you realise the low price is at the expense of a decent powerplant.

The direct-injection engine feels and sounds unrefined compared to its common-rail brethren, and the clattery diesel thrum is intrusive whether the fabric roof is up or down.

The 145kg of additional weight over the 1.9-litre TDI A3 hatch is also a bit of a strain for the 103bhp motor – it feels substantially underpowered. Once in its stride, the A3 does glide elegantly over the road, though. The ride is softly sprung and comfortable, without comprising the steering and body control.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for an economical, spacious four-seat cabriolet then the entry-level diesel A3 returns all the right figures. If, however, you’re not governed by numbers you would do better to look further up the range to the more well rounded and powerful common-rail 2.0-litre TDI. Cabin quality is a real plus, even in the most basic trim, but the gruffness of the direct-injection engine distracts you from an otherwise pleasant car.

George Barrow

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Paul J 20 November 2008

Re: Audi A3 1.9 TDI Cabriolet

Dan McNeil wrote:
You're too kind

I was trying to offer them some crumbs of comfort and encouragement, but on reflection you're right, I am being too kind. You have to be cruel to be kind, and your concrete mixer comparison is probably more accurate than my skip.

Dan McNeil 20 November 2008

Re: Audi A3 1.9 TDI Cabriolet

Paul J wrote:
It starts off promisingly but turns into a skip beyond the windscreen.

You're too kind. In fact, the Audi nose looks like a person who has had a door opened with great force into their face. Flattened and ugly, like a boxer dog. But yes, beyond the windscreen it does indeed turn into a skip. A typically dumpy looking Audi skip. And in this guise, a dumpy looking skip that sounds like a cement mixer.

This is a car for myopic non-drivers. Especially in white, it's the XR3i Cabriolet for the new century. Me - I'd rather have an MX5.

stevo27 19 November 2008

Re: Audi A3 1.9 TDI Cabriolet

Quattro369 wrote:
Why get a good looking convertible, and then saddle it with an awful, dated, coarse engine which dates back to the 90's? Madness.

Because you can?