Convertible attack on BMW: The Audi A3 is now open too

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Convertible attack on BMW: The Audi A3 is now open too-open

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When the BMW experts go through their depressive phase, they look – no, not to Stuttgart. Ingolstadt is what worries the managers and engineers from Munich. Because that’s where the ambitious VW subsidiary Audi is sitting and preparing to overtake BMW soon. Current attempt: the new A3 convertible.

Na: Now the Golf Cabrio is getting a successor after all. VW is not building any other open-air model besides the open Beetle and the Eos for the time being. But Audi is now filling the gap for this: where the whole world relies on retractable hardtops and the compact convertibles become coupes with the roof closed, Audi is sending the classically elegant A3 into the race, which conventionally drops its covers. It remains with a conventional soft top, just like the BMW 1 Series Convertible. The cars will hit dealerships in March and prices will start at € 27,950. This means that the A3 is significantly more expensive than a Golf Cabrio would be – but only just under 1000 euros separate it from the BMW.

The roof also opens while driving

Audi gives many good reasons for fabric instead of steel: The flexible hood weighs less, folds closer, looks better and is also cheaper. And comfort does not have to be lacking, at least with the so-called acoustic hood for an extra charge of just under 800 euros. This opens and closes fully automatically at the push of a button or by remote control in the key and can also be moved while driving (up to 30 km / h). Within nine seconds, the fabric roof folds into a small box behind the rear seats and does not need a tarpaulin or cover there.

And the trunk is not affected either. With the roof open and closed, it holds 260 liters and can be expanded to a maximum of 674 liters thanks to the foldable backrests. With a loading length of 1.50 meters, a (dismantled) mountain bike and other sports equipment will also fit in the rear, the developers praise and thus justify the roll bars behind the rear seats that take getting used to. "A retractable system would have robbed us of too much space", says project manager Marcus Pausch. You can also find the chrome-plated temples on the TT Roadster, which is generally considered to be visually successful.

In addition to the new roof, there is also a new design for the convertible, which is around 5500 euros more expensive than the normal A3, with which the car is a little out of line: the radiator grille looks larger, and the headlights are even more distinctive. As in the new A4, you get the chrome-vaporized ones "Wings", which remind a little of raised eyebrows and are needed for the daytime running lights. At the rear there are sharper-cut lights with light sticks, which are unmistakable even at night, and a spoiler lip worked into the trunk lid. And on top of that, as with every open Audi, there is a surrounding chrome strip that separates the car body from the open sky. Only the chrome frame of the windshield has been omitted.

At 200 hp, it’s over for now

Two petrol and two diesel engines are initially available for the drive. All engines have four cylinders and are equipped with a turbocharger and direct injection. The base model is a 1.9 liter diesel with 105 hp, the cheapest gasoline engine for 29,100 euros is the 1.8 TFSI with 160 hp. Above this are the 2.0 TDI with 140 PS and at the top of the list is the 2.0 TFSI with 200 PS, which costs at least 35,150 euros. The powerful engines in particular cut a fine figure. The extra weight is so low that it has no influence on driving behavior. The chassis is pleasantly tight and sporty. And the body is so stiff that it prevents any crackling or creaking even on bad roads.

The main difference to the BMW 1 Series lies in the drive technology. While BMW relies on rear-wheel drive for the 1 Series, the Audi is moved by the front wheels. The all-wheel drive variant "quattro" excludes product manager package as well as the installation of six-cylinder engines. The more powerful variants would almost inevitably have to be combined with all-wheel drive, and the trunk would suffer considerably as a result. Compact convertibles with six-cylinder comfort or a lot of power are only available from BMW for the time being, which can be up to 306 hp and is a bit more agile on the road thanks to the rear-wheel drive. The 200 hp turbo from Audi can at least stand up to the 218 hp six-cylinder in the BMW 125i. There should be space for both new convertibles in the premium vehicle market. And there is no further competition in sight in this class – if at all, there could be a new VW Golf Convertible be an alternative, but that should be a long time coming at least until 2009/2010.

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