The newest A3 cabriolet retains its electrically folding roof, although now based on the A3 sedan (the ungainly previous iteration was based on the hatch) its design appears more homogenous and balanced than before. This physically larger body comes with all the elements accompanying an increase in size: passenger comfort is improved by the added interior space and the cab's ride and handling benefits, too.

Usually cars forced to make do without a metal roof suffer scuttle shakes and shudders when driven on anything other than billiard-table smooth surfaces. This cabriolet suffers incredibly little of the jarring characteristics usually synonymous with drop-tops and the sometimes choppy and unsettling ride experience on its predecessor is virtually erased. In its place is a properly sophisticated cabriolet with a sufficiently sporty ride accompanied by reciprocal levels of comfort and suppleness through the chassis.

Heavy weight

Understandably, the reinforcements required for a cabriolet mean this version of the A3's slightly heavier on the scales, but it would be hard to determine this from behind the steering wheel. We had the use of the 132kW 1.8T FSI that impressed with its ability to overcome the latent inertia associated with a higher kerb weight and keep things steadily bubbling away. Linked to a cruiser-friendly S tronic dual clutch transmission, the turbo petrol's performance was nothing but relaxed and assured, no matter the gear selected.

The roof drops in mere seconds and, unless you're four up or going exceptionally quickly, there are no reasons not to do this often. The wind swirl and buffeting through the cabin was more than acceptable although the unwieldy plastic-and-mesh deflector placed above the rear bench substantially reduced the turbulence within the cabin. With wind deflector in place, even as speeds approaching 120kph, the cabin remained quiet enough to conduct a conversation or listen to some music without straining the ears.

The cabriolet shares its classy cabin with the A3 hatch and sedan body styles and the materials used throughout are top-notch; the switches, dials and toggles accompanying the new MMI infotainment interface easy to identify and manipulate. As is usually the case with these boutique specials, the A3 cabriolet is fitted with four seats, but that doesn't necessarily mean four can travel comfortably.

Alas, during its time with me, the A3 was commandeered for a night out on the town and the tallest of the party ushered onto the rear bench for an impromptu 'comfort test'. All present commented on the comfort – both from the seats and from the ride – despite the initial misgivings about the possible lack of headroom. Once settled in the seat, headroom was no longer a concern, although there was always going to be an easy way around that predicament...

Big booty

Its larger size has also benefited the A3 cabriolet in a practical fashion. The boot can now be used for more than just a pair of small grocery bags and the rear bench splits when added space is required. Generally, there's 275 litres free with the roof up; 320 litres when the roof's neatly folded away.

Certainly, Audi's A3 Cabriolet has grown up, but hasn't lost any of its fun-and-sun loving characteristics. It's just more refined, has a top-notch cabin with superb finishes, a convincing degree of urge from the turbo four-cylinder and is easier than ever to drive so if you're a fan of premium convertibles and you don't often have a need to carry more than one passenger (unless you're willing to make do without the deflector), you might want to give the A3 Cabriolet more than just a cursory glance.

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