Range-topping A3 Cab is good enough to justify the high price

What is it?

The range-topping version of the new A3 cabriolet in the UK, which we’re driving for the first time in right-hand drive form an on British roads. The 2.0 litre TFSI motor is familiar from other applications in the VW Group, most notably the Golf GTI, and it drives the front wheels through an optional six-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox.

What’s it like?

Pretty decent. Despite the fact that it’s ‘only’ got a cloth roof and ‘only’ costs £25k, this car offers an upmarket-feeling driving experience that’s well up to Audi’s high standards, and much more premium-feeling than that of a Volvo C70 or Ford Focus CC.

The cabin’s well-appointed, well-equipped and expensive-feeling, the driving position is good (if a little too high to offer much shelter from the wind to taller drivers), and the car’s a surprisingly peppy performer on the road too.

The familiar 2.0-litre turbo petrol motor is a flexible and willing powerplant, and though it feels a little less potent in this 1560kg convertible than it does in a lighter hot hatch, it’s still capable of better-than-average performance. The car steers lightly but accurately, and although it runs out of traction sooner than a rear-driven BMW 1-series rag-top would, it’s got better body control than the BMW, and feels more agile too.

You can tell from the very occasional momentary body shudder, scuttle wobble or steering column shake that you’re driving a cabrio, but only on choppier-than-average surfaces, and seldom with the roof up. Most of the time the A3 Cabriolet just exudes an air of rich, quiet, well-resolved imperviousness.

Should I buy one?

If a VW Eos just isn’t quite desirable enough for you, definitely. This car’s cheaper than the equivalent BMW 1-series, it’s quicker, it’s more practical, it feels marginally more upmarket, and it should be stronger from a residual value standpoint too.

Most will go for one of the cheaper diesel options, but we’d say this petrol is worth its premium.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

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julianphillips 25 April 2008

Re: Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI

I think the 1.8 TFSi makes a better case for itself; £1500 cheaper -a lot of fuel - and not much worse performance.