Audi A3 Cabriolet Review

It’s an Audi, but is it masculine enough?

Audi A3 Cabriolet Hero

Writing this review of the GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet has been challenging. After 24 hours with the car, plenty of sun with the roof down, and an elongated drive up to the northern tip of Sydney’s Palm Beach, I feel like I have a few words to say, yet I still don’t know how I feel about the Audi A3 in a convertible.

When one thinks of Audi, it’s hard not to think of the R8 or TT. Both cars will spark a variety of emotions, opinions, and arguments within seconds of dropping their name. This isn’t just between motoring folk — it seems everyone has an opinion about Audi.

I’m sure Audi likes this controversy. They like their brand to be injected into a conversation that was previously, and selfishly, hogged by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, and the Italian-bred horse and bull.

Audi started with successful rally cars, then stupidly-fast family cars, and then attempted a supercar. What happens when they take their compact saloon and eliminate the roof?

GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet

Audi A3 Cabriolet Drive
Performance and Handling

I would have liked to compare the A3 Cabriolet to the equivalent BMW’s 2-Series. I feel like this would be a fair comparison of the two Germans appealing to a broader demographic at the risk of losing their masculine heritage. It’s not a race to the bottom, nor the top.

As of writing this article, no one has the BMW available for a rental experience. So perhaps the more practical question is: How does the A3 Cabriolet compare to the other Audi A3’s available?

On paper, the A3 Cabriolet is apparently faster. It has the same 1.4L turbocharged engine, although it pushes out 110kW instead of the 92kW from the base engine, presumably from a higher turbo boost. The reality is, you can’t tell the difference in the cabriolet. In fact, the GoGet Audi A3 Sportbacks all come with the 92kW engine and their two A3 sedans have the 110kW engine.

Alas, what was noticeable was the additional body roll when cornering with the A3 Cabriolet over the A3 Sportback. This was evident despite GoGet’s upgrade to the Style pack just like in their A3 Sportback, adding 18” rims (instead of the Sportback’s 17”) giving us an improved 40% profile on the rubber down from 45% on the 17”. The loss of rigidity from losing the roof makes much more of a difference in the overall performance, particularly when you don’t have a huge engine to pull you out of corners that you need to take a bit slower.

Just like the other A3’s, the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission works surprisingly well (for the class and price point) when in manual or sports mode. Shifting gears with your fingers on the paddles provides an interactive experience in lieu of a manual gearbox. Despite the engine not feeling quite as strong as the Mercedes-Benz SLK200 (Europcar review here), the gearbox pushes it miles ahead of the SLK.

A totally different class ahead is the BMW Z4 I hired from DriveMyCar.

Audi Design and Style

Before I get too opinionated, I’ll discuss the relatively objective design elements of the GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet. This is the base Attraction model with the Style package upgrade, giving you Xenon/LED headlights and 18” wheels. Unlike the other A3’s that GoGet has in their fleet, this one also has the GPS, reversing camera and parking sensors. In 2016, this should be standard.

GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet

With the soft roof cover clear out of site, the Cabriolet looks reasonably good – clean with strong lines. The front isn’t as aggressive as the SLK, enhancing a more feminine posture. We’ll come back to this point.

There is the consideration of the GoGet branding which is found on the rear panels, and both front- and rear-left bumpers. Despite not being as obvious as the GoGet orange mirror, and more stylish than the Hertz 24/7 logo on the doors (like in their Audi Q5 and A3 Sportback), this is still a design consideration if you need this car to impress.

GoGet Audi A3 Convertable
Palm Beach, in the north-most tip of Sydney’s Northen Beaches.

The interior isn’t any different to the A3 Sportback. Read my previous Audi reviews here.

How does the car make me feel?

I’ve planted the seed, and now I’ll answer the question you might be thinking: is the Audi A3 Cabriolet a ladies convertible?

Yes, I think so.

Some cars are labeled with this stereotype and I would strongly argue against it. For example, the Mercedes-Benz SLK you can rent from Europcar (read my review here) is often referred to as a ladies car. I strongly disagree. Perhaps it’s because they also offer it in the gnarly 5.5L AMG V8, or the fact that from the front it looks very similar to it’s 5x priced brother – the SL500.

Despite enjoying my time in the Audi A3 Cabriolet, I just didn’t feel like it was masculine enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, it actually looks good when the roof is down. Which is surprising because when the soft roof is up, it looks like someone threw a dirty tarp over it.

Okay Todd, what type of convertible is masculine?

It’s easy to be obvious: the Mercedes-Benz SL65 and Aston Martin Vanquish are masculine cars. As are the Ferrari 488 Spider (Chris Harris’ video here), and the four-seater Maserati Grancabrio MC. But what about cars that aren’t so expensive?

When we are looking at convertibles under $100k, we generally lose a lot of the aggressiveness of their more expensive cousins – aesthetically and under the hood. Our options are:

However considering that Australia’s rental market is underdeveloped compared to the rest of the world, we don’t get to make many of these choices. Without diverging too far from this review, let’s consider the economics of these experiences.

Economics of Driving Experiences

Or to be specific, economics of experiences in Australia. The price and value of rental experiences differs significantly to the world of purchasing these same cars.

Audi A3 Pricing

For example, this Audi A3 Cabriolet — a $53k drive-away car — was $99 for a day of 150km (with an extra $20 to make it 200km). Or alternatively you could choose:

If you were to try to find a Mercedes-Benz SL55 or Ferrari 488 — cars worth about half a million dollars — the price of the rental experience becomes almost unpalatable at over $1000 per day and there is generally a three-day minimum. Say goodbye to $5k quickly.

Why does it have to be like this? Doing a quick search across Avis Prestige and Hertz Dream Cars in the UK, I found cars like this:

Avis Prestige - Mercedes AMG GTS
Avis Prestige - Porsche 911

So why not Australia? Whilst asking the question, I’m also looking into how Ride Hacks can write about your remote Ride Hacks experiences that are coupled to holidays. For example, if you were to fly to London, Paris or Dubai, can Ride Hacks have a car waiting for you? Stay tuned.

GoGet Audi Availability

GoGet has started with six Audi A3 Cabriolet in their fleet:

The Competition

The competition could be seen in several ways. Does the A3 Cabriolet compete with the A3 Sportback? Or does it compete with the Mercedes SLK200? It’s a tough call.

To provide some context, the A3 Cabriolet has a price point above these other cheaper convertibles:

  • Fiat 500C (Italian)
  • Citroen DS3 (French)
  • Renault Megane (French)
  • Abarth (595) (Italian)
  • MINI Roadster (British)
  • Holden Cascada (Australian)
  • Volkswagen Golf (German)

I’ve written the country of design rather than the country of origin. When you dig into the manufacturing process, you’ll find interesting things such as the Audi A3 Sportback is manufactured in India, whereas the Cabriolet is manufactured in Brazil. But you probably knew that.

Both the Renault Megane and Volkswagen Golf are available to rent with Europcar. However, I would consider the Audi A3 a more refined car than either of these. On the more expensive side, you only have the Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 and E 200 available from Europcar. The others mentioned above aren’t available in the Australian market.

So perhaps the competition can be discussed from an emotional rather than analytical standpoint; after driving the SLK, I wanted more. After driving the A3 Cabriolet, I was pleased but not sad to hand it back. The E-class? We’ll find out soon.

Read my Ultimate Guide to Convertible Hire here

Audi A3 Convertible

Final Thoughts on the Audi A3 Cabriolet

The GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet met my expectations. It felt so similar to driving the A3 Sportback, with the handling differences that were also to be expected. I wasn’t blown away, nor was I disappointed. It was driving an entry-level refined prestige car, without the roof. Maybe that’s all it was.

If you’re a GoGet member, give it a try, it might be fun.Should you join GoGet just to try one out? Yes, you probably should – the benefits of having the entire A3 family (Saloon, Sportback, Cabriolet) on demand is probably the coolest thing about the GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet.

Should you join GoGet just to try one out? Yes, you probably should, the benefits of having the entire A3 family (Sedan, Sportback, Cabriolet) on demand is probably the coolest thing about the GoGet Audi A3 Cabriolet.

 

Fancy driving the Audi A3 Cabriolet?

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