Driving the New Audi A3 Cabriolet and S3 Sedan
Sometimes, one of the most instructive exercises for those of us who review top-end sports and luxury automobiles is experiencing a marque’s more modest offerings. And the new Audi A3 Cabriolet and S3 Sedan speak volumes about how the German manufacturer treats its entry-level customers.
We recently took the all-new 2015 A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic (quite a mouthful) for a quick jaunt to Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., about 135 miles from Los Angeles. Equipped with a 1.8-liter, 170 hp, turbocharged inline 4-cylinder engine and 6-speed S tronic automatic transmission, the compact A3 Cab is a front-wheel-drive drop-top that gets good mileage—about 28 mpg average—and offers a sporty road feel with ample comfort in a very appealing and shapely little package. While the base price is $35,600, our Shiraz Red metallic example topped $45,500, optioned as it was with the $8,450 Prestige Model accessory package that included 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen sound, and a host of electronic niceties for which Audi leads the charge. (The beautiful chestnut-brown leather interior comes standard.) The black fabric roof is a thick, insulated affair, making the car a true cabriolet according to the proper German definition.
The little A3 Cabriolet swallowed up freeway miles like a bigger, longer car—though it did lack for luggage space, as the trunk was occupied by the convertible apparatus, in an effort to retain as much rear-passenger legroom as possible (which the car does admirably). Altogether competent and built with a fit-and-finish precision absent in many automobiles priced much higher, this Audi demonstrates the carmaker’s commitment to one level of quality across its model spectrum.
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