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Rediff.com  » Business » Audi A3 Cabriolet is an indulgence

Audi A3 Cabriolet is an indulgence

September 18, 2017 15:27 IST

Bright and attention grabbing it certainly is, especially in this gorgeous shade of yellow, but will the new A3 Cabriolet manage to excite us with its new 1.4 litre heart?

Is a soft-top enough of a distinguishing feature on a car to garner enough head turns on your daily commute, feeding the narcissist in you?

I’m generally the shy guy myself but going by my time behind the wheel of the Audi, it certainly seems like this is an attention seekers dream.

It is, in some part, down to its bright ‘Vegas’ yellow paint job on our test car which is probably the flashiest colour that the cabriolet can be ordered with.

And it’s this feeling of being in the spotlight, that a car like the Audi A3 Cabriolet is promising to its customers and it clearly accomplishes this in the real world.

With cost and efficiency on its side, this 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is finding it’s way into a number of VW group cars of late the A3 Cabriolet is its latest victim.

A real head turner

The A3 sedan is a good looking car but it certainly doesn’t have this kind of eyeball grabbing power and I haven’t even dropped the top yet!

The nice sharp lines of the A3 are just made all that more special by the addition of the soft top and the deletion of the rear doors.

The large air dams are exactly the same as on the sedan but somehow seem to appear more sporty in the cabriolet or maybe it’s just my excitement.

And have I mentioned how good it looks in this bright yellow?

Step into the car and you are greeted with the all-black interiors of the A3 which we’re quite familiar with now.

The clean and uncluttered look with everything falling to easy touch are just what we’ve come to expect from the four ringed marque.

The front seats are sporty and supportive but as is the case with the A3 sedan, they are only manually adjustable with just the lumbar support having an electrical adjustment knob.

The centre of the infotainment system is a 7-inch screen that electronically folds away if needed and though there is no touch screen, it’s controlled by Audi’s brilliant MMI controller that is really intuitive and also doesn’t require you to be reaching out for a touch screen while on the move.

Sound is reproduced by a standard 9-speaker setup or an optional 13-speaker Bang & Olufsen 5.1 surround sound systems that actually uses microphones to balance and cancel out any background noise that tends to creep through the roof.

It’s fairly customisable as well with two upholstery options, 13 body colours (they even give you the option to create your own custom colour) and three colours for soft top fabric.

And that bring us to the defining feature of the Cabriolet - the retractable roof.

In under 20 seconds the roof will fold away neatly into the boot, giving way to a proper summer touring experience.

What’s more is that it can do this on the move as well and at just under 50kmph the roof activates and folds away quickly.

It’s not quite as windy an experience as we’d expected and noise level are comparable to riding a motorcycle with an open face helmet.

We did get lucky with the weather for the shoot but after this short experience I can see how a drive down to the coast could be a very nice experience after the rains stop.

Considering that the folding roof eats up space, the room in the rear seats is only suitable for small children or friends you don’t like very much.

The seat base is too close to the floor and at just 685mm (maximum available with front seats fully forward)), there is practically no knee room to speak about.

The roof mechanism also eats up shoulder room too (1065mm rear shoulder room vs 1400mm up front), but strangely for a drop top there is ample head room. So the bottom line is kids will fit in the back but adults, even for joy rides, will be quite uncomfortable.

I can’t hear you

When we first fired the A3 Cabriolet up we were quite surprised with the quiet idle from the 1.4 TFSI under the hood.

In the Q3 the same engine was quite audible at tick over and on the move too it produced quite a nice raspy engine note.

In the Cabriolet, not only is it quiet at idle but even when pushed hard you struggle to hear the engine.

And while having a quiet motor is never a bad thing for the introverted, with a car like the Cabriolet where everything else is loud, this feels a little out of character.

It’s a similar driving experience as well, with the tiny 1.4 powerplant doing everything you ask.

It’s happy pottering around town as you bask in gaze of a thousand peering eyes and out on the highway it will happily return 17.11kmpl as it cruises along effortlessly in top gear.

With the top down you can expect that efficiency figure to drop down a bit.

It’s a little less efficient than the A3 sedan also on account of the extra 80 kgs that it’s gained with the deletion of the hard top.

This weight is the sum of both the soft top and its electronic hardware and the extra strengthening to the chassis to make up for rigidity lost with the deletion of the roof.

What the 1.4 TFSI can’t do is inject a dose of adrenaline into the equation. When you floor the pedal the lack of displacement is quite evident.

Acceleration won’t take your breath away and the 0-100 time of 9.96 seconds is just a tad quicker than the fastest entry sedan we tested recently.

It’s a shame too because the A3 chassis is quite nice around corners.

There is little roll but it’s controlled and the chassis does inspire a lot of confidence.

Turning into and going around corners is a lot of fun but you will feel the lack of grunt out of them and find that it’s better to settle back down to a gentle pace again.

The ride is a good balance between comfortable and sporty.

Small undulations are just about felt but don’t upset passengers and larger bumps are absorbed with only a slight thud from the suspension.

Conclusion

For what it’s designed to do the A3 Cabriolet ticks most of the boxes.

It will stand out from the crowd every Saturday night and will be brilliant on the long drive down the coast to Goa in the summer with the top down and wind blowing through your hair.

It may not excite the driver in you but instead appeals to a different emotion.

It’s an indulgence - you never need one, you want one.

At an asking price of Rs 48.52 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, you really do have to ask yourself if it justifies the Rs 13.98 lakh premium over the tin top.

But then again, can you really put a price on exclusivity?