First drive: Audi A3 cabriolet
So, on the last day at work before your holiday, your boss gave you a pay rise. You land at your sun-kissed paradise and go to the hire-car desk. It’s time to celebrate with an upgrade from that Citroen C1 you’d originally booked. You’re here to cruise, relax, and, heck, make a little fuss of your newfound financial status. May Top Gear suggest the new Audi A3 cabrio?
The Cabrio is a mix-n-match job between various A3 body styles. It uses the short wheelbase of the three-door, but the long tail of the saloon. This means enough space in the boot for your fortnight’s hold baggage, but you’ll be glad you’re on a romantic break for two because the rear-seat legroom is pretty constricted.
A quick 18-second button press choreographs an electro-hydraulic dance to drop the hood clean out of sight. There’s a foldaway wind blocker that’s a bit of a pain to install, but makes a big difference at motorway speeds, keeping life draught-free. If it’s a chilly evening, you’ll be glad of the optional neck warming air below the head rests.
The A3 Cabrio doesn’t make much of a case a sports roadster. It’s lighter than before, and more rigid. But even so the slight flexiness in the shell robs it of the sharpness and feedback they’ve carefully engineered into the current-gen A3 hatch. Still, you don’t mind, because you’re not here to hoon, and the standard suspension (there are two firmer options) gives a supple ride.
Performance isn’t too epic either, though the turbo petrol and 1.8 spins very nicely, so you can enjoy wringing it out up the hills.
Then you get back home and wonder about getting one as a company car. You can see why people do. There are a pair of super-economical low-tax diesels on offer, and the fabric roof is superbly quiet and insulating for commuting down the motorway in a British winter. It’s small in the back but if you want more space, save for an A5 Cabrio. Or if your self-esteem doesn’t need the crutch of premium image, get a Vauxhall Cascada. But when you look through the lens of Top Gear, you’ll want a better drive. Which means an MX-5 or an A3 hatch.
Leave your holiday memories as memories. What goes on tour stays on tour.