New Audi A3 Cabriolet

There is nothing quite like driving a convertible car – rays of sunshine warming the spirit, a touch of breeze in your hair… the sheer sense of freedom is unbeatable. Cloth roofs, rather than folding metal hardtops, though less practical in an urban garage-less setting, lend an even more carefree spirit to the convertible, and Audi has maintained this with its latest A3 Cabriolet.

This is the new open-top version of the A3. It has a longer, more elegant body than its predecessor that, due to the hybrid steel and aluminium construction, manages to be around 50kg lighter. It is handsome on the road, practical in its small size yet with the spirit of a grown-up car, as we discovered driving through the New Forest and the surrounding countryside.

The weather being typical UK springtime – a mix of sunshine and outbursts of pouring rain – the snug-fit cloth roof was put to the test on more than one occasion, opening and closing in a little under 18 seconds and at speeds of up to 31mph. Convertibles often suffer from boot space, but here the roof folds neatly in a compact tray, leaving the luggage space at a reasonable 287 litres.

The cabin is considerably more spacious than the previous Cabriolet. It is also all Audi, so it is thoughtfully designed using good quality material often sacrificed in smaller cars. Expect a pretty high-tech car too, equipped with the latest version of Audi’s MMI infotainment system. Using a central control dial or shortcut raised switches, the system allows you to instinctively manage navigation, entertainment, interior settings, as well as ride dynamics on sportier models with drive select.

In recent years Audi has managed to create a family of cars that are at once recognised as Audis no matter what size or shape. The marque is now on a mission to add elements of differentiation to each model – and the outcome will be intriguing to see.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

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