Saturday, March 28, 2015

Audi A3 droptop has pep, luxury, fun factor

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California – Audi rebooted its A3 lineup for the 2015 model year, and at first glance, I believed that the droptop offerings were the most desirable of the lot.

So I was pretty overjoyed to get a 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic show up at my parking spot.  Yes, the name is longer than a drugstore receipt, but it’s easier to just boil it down to peppy, luxurious, convertible fun.

That works, right?  Believe me, it does.

The tested A3 had a willing 1.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo engine that felt way stronger than the advertised 170 horsepower.  Serious zip accompanied my right foot at every call.  And beyond that, the monorail-like road manners were a surprise to me.  I’m not used to a front-driver giving me this kind of feel for the road.

A secure feel, I might add.

My ride has a classy, understated-sporty look, and the optional 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels were certainly a plus.

Naturally, here in sunny, drought-stricken California, you get plenty of opportunities to drop the top and enjoy the sun's rays.

Top up or down, the interior perks are quite generous and luxurious.  Standard fare on my A3 included leather seating surfaces, power lumbar adjustments and a solid-feeling three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multiple control buttons on it.

Sounds like a $50,000 ride, you say?  Not even close, and yes, this is an Audi.

The starting price is an incredibly reasonable $35,600.  My tester was dressed up in the extreme with an S line exterior package, LED interior lighting, power folding/heated exterior mirrors and much, much more to bring the bottom line to $45,525, far south of the 50K border.

Perhaps the most appreciated feature of the vehicle: the pop-up screen that magically appears in the top-center of the dashboard.  That location makes reading data easy; no need to take your eyes off the road, thank you very much.

Worth noting: a wealth of strategically placed airbags and super-glue-style brakes (ventilated discs on the front end and solid discs on the rear).  Also, the rearview camera was part of the option package.

This is a California car, given the percentage of sunny days in the Golden State, but I’d have no trouble recommending an A3 Cabriolet for a back-East citizen.  It has enough to handle all road conditions, and yes, that first top drop of the spring is extra special in lands were rain and snow fall frequently.

On the grade card, this A3 is a solid “B” to “B-plus” ride.