What it is: The A3 is Audi's smallest series of cars available, and it comes in sedan, five-door hatchback, and convertible versions. My test model was the Cabriolet (official vehicle name: Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T quattro S tronic) and is Audi's four-seat convertible model. The smaller TT model comes with two seats only, so this A3 Cabriolet is considered the more economical choice. The larger A4 previously had a convertible option available, but that is now handled by the A5 convertible. Sorry for the repeated letter/number model drivel, but Audi keeps their vehicle names very simple.
Audi sells the A3 Cabriolet with two different engine choices: a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo and a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbo. That may not sound like much of a difference, but the 2.0 packs 43 more horsepower and 74 more lb-ft of torque. Audi charges about $3,000 more for the privilege, but you also get their legendary all-wheel drive system they call quattro (instead of front-wheel drive). I'm a big fan of more power and quattro, so the extra $3,000 is a no-brainer.
Audi did a fantastic job with the exterior, bringing a lot of class to the price segment and while the interior felt a little small, I felt completely comfortable. The back-seat seating area is miniscule as expected, so think of it more as emergency seating. The electric convertible top folds up quickly into the trunk, but takes up about 75 percent of the available storage space. Don't expect to get more than a few small bags in the trunk with the top down.
My test model was equipped with the Premium Plus trim, which for $2,700 adds 18-inch 10-spoke wheels, heated front seats, Audi advanced key (keyless entry/ignition), iPod cable, and silver decorative inlays. If you are choosing between Premium Plus and getting the 2.0 engine/quattro then definitely go for the oomph. Audi's Navigation Plus added $2,700 which, while nice to have, makes you feel like you're getting a little ripped off. The thin screen pops out vertically from the dash (really cool!) but reminds you that a $500 iPad has infinite more capability than a $2,700 navigation system. 
The driving experience was fantastic, and it was a blast to drive. The quattro system is so much better than front-wheel drive (Google torque steer for a big reason why) and you feel every bit of the 258 lb-ft of torque (available all the way down at 1,600 RPM). Being a little smaller than most luxury convertibles, the lack of heft was appreciated when making spirited turns and navigating through traffic.
Mileage: 23 city / 32 highway / 26 combined
Price: $36,600 base price. $46,500 as-tested. 
Upsides: Lots of style and fun for less than $40,000. 
Downsides:  Android Auto/Apple Car Play please rescue us from $2,700 navigation systems.
Wrap-up: Fun. Nimble. Convertible. Luxury brand. Hard to find something with those features for under $40,000 in 2016. The A3 Cabriolet delivers on fun and excitement without hurting the wallet too badly. It's a great size for a weekend getaway, commuting, or just as a neighborhood cruiser. The Audi A3 Cabriolet comes highly recommended.

Wilson Calvert
Author: Wilson CalvertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist / Director of Operations
I am a long-time Houstonian and am obsessed with cars, soccer, traveling, bourbon and airplanes. I write a regular car review column for The Tribune and travel articles a few times per year.

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