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The A3 Cabriolet’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The 2 Series doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
The A3 Cabriolet has a standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The 2 Series doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.
The A3 Cabriolet’s optional blind spot warning system uses digital cameras monitored by computer to alert the driver to moving objects in the vehicle’s blind spots where the side view mirrors don’t reveal them. The 2 Series doesn’t offer a system to reveal objects in the driver’s blind spots.
To help make backing safer, the A3 Cabriolet’s optional cross-path warning system uses wide-angle radar in the rear bumper to alert the driver to vehicles approaching from the side, helping the driver avoid collisions. The 2 Series doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Both the A3 Cabriolet and the 2 Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems and rear parking sensors.
The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the 2 Series’ engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.
To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Cabriolet has a standard 320-amp alternator. The 2 Series’ standard 170-amp alternator and largest (6 cyl.) 210-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than BMW vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 1 place higher in reliability than BMW.
To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A3 Cabriolet uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended on A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI for maximum performance). The 2 Series requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.
In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Cabriolet higher (7 out of 10) than the BMW 2 Series (3 to 7). This means the A3 Cabriolet produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 2 Series every 15,000 miles.
The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Cabriolet as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The BMW 2 Series is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.
The A3 Cabriolet offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The 2 Series doesn’t offer an SMG.
For better traction, the A3 Cabriolet has larger standard tires than the 2 Series (225/45R17 vs. 205/50R17). The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 2 Series (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R18).
The A3 Cabriolet’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 230i’s standard 50 series tires. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the 2 Series’ optional 40 series front tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A3 Cabriolet Prestige offers optional 19-inch wheels. The 2 Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.
The A3 Cabriolet has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 2 Series; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.
The A3 Cabriolet has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the A3 Cabriolet flat and controlled during cornering. The 2 Series’ suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A3 Cabriolet is 1.3 inches wider in the front than on the 2 Series.
The A3 Cabriolet’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The 2 Series Convertible’s standard single piece folding rear seat is not as flexible; long cargo and a passenger can’t share the rear seat.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 14% lower rating, BMW is ranked 8th.
To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the A3 Cabriolet has standard extendable sun visors. The 2 Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.
The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the BMW 2 Series isn’t available as a sedan or station wagon.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the 2 Series because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Cabriolet than the 2 Series, including $196 less for a water pump, $207 less for a muffler, $56 less for front brake pads, $60 less for a starter, $122 less for fuel injection and $687 less for a timing belt/chain.
Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Cabriolet and the BMW 2 Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.
The Audi A3/S3 outsold the BMW 2 Series by almost two to one during the 2018 model year.
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