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Audi A3 Cabriolet

Motoring Review

The current Audi A3 is an impressive product in many ways and as Audi mentioned recently, the car didn’t need much of an update.

However, to keep up with current automotive trends, the German marque has refreshed its A3 range. I travelled to the Western Cape to sample the mildly updated model and was suitably impressed.

Updated exterior

As with many Audi products, when it comes to an update, the changes made are minor but more notable the more one looks. Keen observers will spot the new front grille and front bumper with a distinct absence of fog lights, which are now integrated in to the updated headlights. In side profile the hatchback, Sportback, cabriolet and sedan remain unchanged while new taillights adorn the rear.

Interior advances

Inside, the A3 is a usual Audi affair with superb quality and some of the best ergonomics in the business. The most notable addition must be the brand’s Virtual Cockpit display. This is an optional extra much like most things tend to be with premium German cars, however, I feel that it is one worth ticking.

The 12.3-inch screen allows the driver to have everything from the sat-nav to the media player, telephone, instrument cluster and even vehicle information in right in front of them.

For those not inclined to this new tech, there’s a seven-inch MMI screen that protrudes from the centre console. There are two more expensive and nifty versions called ‘MMI Navigation’. Both of these get Audi Connect (which includes internet connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) and Bluetooth streaming, however, one gets the MMI touch pad and a better sound system.

Updated powertrains

The engine line-up in this front-wheel driven range has been changed and now features three petrol mills and one diesel derivative.

The base model ditches the four-cylinder 1.2-litre motor in favour of a three-cylinder 1.0 turbo petrol mill. The micro-motor produces 85kW/200Nm, with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.5 litres/100km. I was unable to sample this car at launch although the engine in question impressed me in the smaller A1 earlier this year.

The familiar 1.4 TFSI now features cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology, which switches off two cylinders when the motor is under low load. It produces 110kW/250Nm with a claimed fuel consumption figure of 4.5 litres/100 kilometres. This motor will likely feature in the bulk of A3 models sold and for good reason, it certainly is the best all-rounder.

The old 1.8-litre turbo petrol has been replaced by the ubiquitous 2.0 TFSI that produces 140kW/320Nm, and which will allow the A3 to sprint from zero-to-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. In addition, a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch box replaces the previous six-speed unit. The lone diesel model displaces 2.0-litres and provides 105kW/340Nm and is only available with a dual-clutch transmission, helping it achieve a claimed 4.5 litres/100km.

It would appear that Audi in Germany have agreed to no longer de-tune local S3 models as we now get the full-fat S3 with 228kW/400Nm. Audi claim that the seven-speed dual clutch quattro-equipped S3 will consume 6.4 litres/100km, which I highly doubt will be repeatable in the real world. However, the car performs well and will get you to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds while the Sportback and Sedan do the same shuffle in 4.6 seconds and the cabriolet in 5.1 seconds.

Improvements to the steering and exhaust system have also made the car a bit more dynamic in terms of feel and in the sound department. By further optimising the steering characteristic and exhaust system control, the S3 drives more dynamically than before.

Verdict

The Audi A3 is a seriously impressive product and the updates made to the range in terms of updated powertrains and infotainment technology from segments above enhance it even further. The competition in the premium segment is fierce but Audi most certainly have a compelling proposition that ticks all of the boxes.

Warranty and service

The range includes the standard 5 year/ 100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.

Article written by Sean Nurse 
11.11.2016

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