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    Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI 184PS quattro

    QUIET CONFIDENCE (some text hidden)

    By Jonathan Crouch

    Open top cars and diesel engines don't always make a great combination. Audi shows how it's done with the improved A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI 184PS quattro. Jonathan Crouch reports.

    Ten Second Reviewword count: 48

    Audi pairs one of its very best diesel engines with the wholly lovely A3 Cabriolet body. The 184PS diesel unit is now offered only with quattro all-wheel drive, a great package though quite a pricey one. This revised model gets slightly smarter looks and some hi-tech cabin options.

    Backgroundword count: 152

    Small convertibles used to be a genre of vehicle that was easy to deride. The were frequently poor, sold to buyers who were merely interested in looks, and as such tended to have a distinctly superficial depth of talent. This was a class of car where tired old chassis and engines went to die. Thngs have improved in recent years though, thanks to drop tops like this second generation Audi A3 Cabriolet, now usefully improved. In truth, the open-topped A3 didn't need to be half this good, but it's looking to appeal to a whole new class of buyer who might not have ever considered a soft top previously. Bolstering the A3 Cabriolet's argument is the inclusion of a rather special 184PS version of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. Here you get ample power and torque, backed up by decent refinement and excellent fuel economy. It makes a compelling case for itself.

    Driving Experienceword count: 276

    The 184PS 2.0 TDI diesel engine that's shoehorned under the bonnet of this A3 Cabriolet is of course the same one used in the A3 hatch and it's a powerplant that doesn't brook too much in the way of complaints. It comes only mated to quattro all-wheel-drive but you can choose between manual or S tronic automatic transmission. Go for the manual variant and 62mph arrives in just 7.9 seconds, while top speed is 150mph. The Audi drive select system lets the driver vary the throttle response, steering weighting and, where the S tronic transmission is present, the gearbox shift points. What's more, it can also be upgraded to manage the optional Audi magnetic ride system with its clever magneto-rheological fluid-filled dampers. So how does it drive? Well, we'd be lying if we said there was no shake or shudder at all with this car over poor road surfaces, but there really isn't very much. Especially if, at point of purchase, you make the right suspension choice between 'firm', 'firmer' or 'firmest' - or to put it in Audi-speak, the 'Standard', 'Sports' or 'S line Sports' suspension set-ups that your dealer will offer you. Get this wrong and you run the risk of spoiling the cossetting, luxurious character of this car in pursuit of dynamic attributes it was never really designed to prioritise. The 'Sports' set-up is lowered by 15mm: the 'S line Sports' by a further 10mm. Neither is a very pleasant companion on a poorly surfaced road, so if you're going for a test drive in this car, make sure you ask the sales person which set-up is fitted to the car you're driving.

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    Category: Convertibles

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