Audi A3 Cabriolet

2.0 TDI Sport

Audi A3 Cabriolet, front, action
Audi A3 Cabriolet, side, roof up
Audi A3 Cabriolet, rear
Audi A3 Cabriolet, interior
Audi A3 Cabriolet, upright
Audi A3 Cabriolet, roof closing
Audi A3 Cabriolet, rear
Audi A3 Cabriolet, front, roof up

IT'S almost as if the British weather has a devious plan, meticulously tailored for each individual cabrio driver.

No sooner have we been lulled into a false sense of security by some blazing sunshine than the black clouds descend and the sky crackles to the sound of thunder.

There is a silver lining though. It means you can compare the driving characteristics and comfort of a roof-down convertible with the more familiar mode of hood in place - a couple of times in the space of an hour.

Brits love wind-in-the-hair driving and as a brand with a finger in just about every pie - 51 models and growing - Audi has plenty of soft-tops and roadsters to offer its burgeoning army of fans.

Latest is the A3 Cabriolet, a longer and more spacious model than its predecessor yet still retaining compact dimensions.

Like all convertible Audis it comes with an automatic fabric roof that opens and closes hydraulically in less than 18 seconds and is fully concealed from view when retracted.

Pressing a button opens or closes the top at speeds of up to 31mph and, folded into three layers, rests in a tray that barely affects the 287-litre luggage capacity.

That said, storage space isn't very expansive and if you're unfortunate enough to need to replace one of the tyres with the space-saver spare, that room is compromised further.

So I wasn't expecting a great deal from the cabin, but was pleasantly surprised by the amount of rear legroom.

This is a genuine four-seater cabrio that passengers can enjoy over a decent distance, even with the roof in place.

If there's a criticism then it comes from travelling in the back with the roof down. There isn't quite the wind protection afforded to the those up front, who have to shout to be heard.

Enjoy a few rays though and it's not too heavy a price to pay.

Four engine are currently up for grabs - 1.4 and 1.8-litre TFSI turbo petrol units plus TDI diesels of 1.6 and 2.0-litres - in SE, Sport and S line trim grades.

While the smaller capacity diesel is being heralded as German brand's efficiency champion with its 72mph and 104 grams of CO2, the tested 2.0 powerplant is strong, sweet and economical in its own right.

With 150ps on tap it can deliver some serious wallop, has low emissions of its own at 110g/km and can return close to the claimed 67mpg for a considerate driver.

Given that most cabrio drivers aren't munching the motorway miles though, and that there's plenty of standard kit, then the entry level 1.4 petrol SE variant makes the most sense at £25,790.

And for those who want extra kit, well the Audi options list is crammed with tempting goodies.

The model included £10,000-worth of additions like black Alcantara/leather upholstery at £795, 19-inch titanium alloys (£1,495), a driver assistance pack (£1,300) and tyre pressure monitoring at £75.

Either way, the cabriolet is a cool, comfortable and extremely classy addition to the A3 collective.

FAST FACTS

Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI Sport

Price: £28,465

Mechanical: 150ps, 1,968cc 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 139mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 67.3

Insurance Group: 25 

C02 emissions: 110g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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