Audi A3 Cabriolet (2008) Review

By: Guy Allen

2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet
2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet
2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Audi A3 Cabriolet. Going topless can be an everyday experience.

Audi A3 Cabriolet (2008) Review
2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet


2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet 

A cynical friend once famously leaned back in his lounge chair, beside a swimming pool at a luxury motel, ice-cold beer in hand, adjusted his Hawaiian shirt and said, clearly enjoying the heat, "This global warming stuff is great, isn't it?"

Now while he'd be howled down with protest, you can sort of see his point. Since we live in a country with more than its fair share of good weather, a car like the A3 cabriolet starts to look pretty good.

Audi's small car platform may not spring immediately to mind as the start of a decent four-seater soft-top, but somehow they've got it to work.

You can order this one with two powerplants: a 1.8 or 2.0-litre DOHC direct injection unit, both with turbocharging. There's a significant difference in power, with the smaller unit claiming 118kW and the larger 147kW. The bigger luxo version, called the Ambition, is the one we scored, complete with the S tronic shifter.

The electronics have the slightly irritating habit of supplying a 'nanny' response to initial throttle movement, but bury the right foot and the rag-top comes alive nicely. The engine, which is dead quiet up to around 4000rpm, makes some entertaining noises and the A3 will accelerate at a very respectable rate. You won't be hammering the kid in his WRX, but you just might give him a fright.

One nice aspect is the front wheel drive gives an admirably neutral response, except for a little kickback if you boot the throttle with a lot of lock wound on. Under normal circumstances, it's very good.

The shift response is quick if not always smooth, offering the option of paddles on the wheel.

Ride is comfortable, with suspension rates chosen for comfort, rather than a racetrack-flat stance. That said, the control and feedback is terrific, so you can play a little in the turns.

Most surprising is just how solid the car feels. There's no hint of scuttle shake - something the compliant suspension probably helps to disguise - and it felt stiffer in this respect than an M3 cabrio we drove a little later.

Interior appointments are pretty much what you'd expect, all high quality gear with an options list that can very quickly stack an extra 10 kay onto the sticker price.

Audi says the roof folds down in eight seconds and re-attaches in 11, which is quick. Sadly the lock for the leading edge is manual, unless you're prepared to pay nearly $1400 more for the auto version, which also claims more soundproofing. You are left with a reasonable amount of boot space, about half what you'd expect in a normal family car.

In all, the A3 cabrio is great fun. The performance is lively, the roof works well, it's comfortable, and there's just enough practicality to make it a realistic daily driver.



2008 Audi A3 cabriolet


BODY: two-door cabriolet

WEIGHT: 1330kg

ENGINE: 1.8/2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo

POWER/TORQUE: 147kW at 5100rpm/ 280Nm at 1800rpm (2.0)

TRANSMISSION: Six-speed man; S tronic auto

DRIVETRAIN: front eng, front-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE: 0-100km/h -  7.3sec (claimed). Top speed - 230km/h (2.0 auto)

PRICE: from $49,900 (1.8) - $57,505 (2.0 Ambition)


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