If you’ve driven a newer Audi or Volkswagen, then the Audi A3 Quattro Cabriolet is exactly what you think it would be – with a top that comes down. It’s a play-toy for a sophisticated, cultured buyer. IE: someone who doesn’t put large drinks in the cupholders.
The exterior is striking in the subtle details. The interior is remarkably quiet for a drop-top. And interior trim pieces are soft & pleasurable to the touch… welcoming, soothing, and precise. Audi/Volkswagen interiors just keep progressing/evolving bit-by-bit with each new model. What I mean is: I used to have a MK6 Volkswagen GTI (2010-2015). I immediately noticed the shared DNA between it, and the Audi. The interior of the 2016 Audi A3 is better… but there was an immediate familiarity & lineage. The improvements are small, subtle tweaks. And it always been admirable & impressive to me, that Volkswagen/Audi engineers will really think about every detail, placement, and texture. Then – with every new model, hindsight being 20/20, they look at what could’ve been just a little bit better in the last model… and they tweak it. It’s a pursuit of perfection. I know that sounds obvious, and expected. But if you think of some other American/Japanese auto manufacturers, it seems like every 5 years, they scrap everything and come out with totally new design schemes. And you’ve got to wonder, are they really pinning-down perfection… or are they just tearing down their stack of Legos, and building it totally back up again in some new shape.
The A3 convertible drives well. The Quattro all-wheel-drive is in its element… no matter what the outside elements are. I tried to get it to slip and/or misbehave a little in wet conditions, and it just wouldn’t. VW/Audi twin-clutch DSG transmissions are amazing. They’re so quick & precise, that driving any other ‘automatic’ seems archaic after experiencing a DSG. I did, however, feel like the the DSG was just slightly less sharp in the Audi A3 convertible – versus my previous Volkswagen GTI. I’m not really sure how to test for that, since we’re talking about milliseconds in shift time. And it could very well be ‘sensory thing’… attributed to the quieter exhaust system on the A3. Or maybe it is the added weight of the all-wheel-drive system and/or the convertible. Or it could just be the the more refined A3 buyer doesn’t necessarily want to get kicked in the seat every time the car shifts under moderate throttle haha. Admittedly – I’m more of a natural GTI or Golf R buyer, so it’s just personal preference at this point, but I would have welcomed a slightly sportier/louder exhaust on the Audi A3. It would have brought out that sexy sound of the DSG shift points a little more. And I think it would make the convertible experience a bit more engaging. (It’s nothing some aftermarket parts can’t fix.)
Engine/power-wise, the 2.0 turbo is great. The same ‘evolution & perfection’ principle I was explaining about the interior, applies to the 2-liter turbo powerplant. Volkswagen/Audi has been studying, refining, and improving this motor for a long while now. They use the motor in a lot of different models across the lineup… and it’s in a sweet spot. They’ve worked out the bugs, the engine is solid, it makes great/crisp power, and gets upper 20s-low 30s MPGs. And for those of you who might care, this 2.0 turbo is highly (and reliably) modifiable in the aftermarket. 500 dollars to a local retailer & the click of their mouse, and you’re up about 30-wheel horsepower… nobody even has to turn a wrench or get their fingernails dirty.