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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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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.
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 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.
Both the A3 Cabriolet and the 4 Series Convertible 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, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.
The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible (3 to 7). This means the A3 Cabriolet produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 4 Series Convertible every 15,000 miles.
The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Cabriolet as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The BMW 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.
For better traction, the A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 4 Series Convertible (235/35R19 vs. 225/40R19).
The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the 4 Series Convertible’s optional 40 series front tires.
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 4 Series Convertible; 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. Some models of the 4 Series Convertible don’t even offer run-flats.
For better maneuverability, the A3 Cabriolet’s turning circle is 1 foot tighter than the 4 Series Convertible’s (36.1 feet vs. 37.1 feet). The A3 Cabriolet’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the 4 Series Convertible xDrive’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).
The Audi A3 Cabriolet may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 600 to 700 pounds less than the BMW 4 Series Convertible.
The A3 Cabriolet is 8.6 inches shorter than the 4 Series Convertible, making the A3 Cabriolet easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.
The A3 Cabriolet’s standard folding rear seats are split to accommodate bulky cargo. The 4 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 4 Series Convertible doesn’t offer extendable visors.
Insurance will cost less for the A3 Cabriolet owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A3 Cabriolet will cost $2070 to $5840 less than the 4 Series Convertible over a five-year period.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the 4 Series Convertible because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Cabriolet than the 4 Series Convertible, including $212 less for a water pump, $265 less for a muffler, $50 less for front brake pads, $104 less for a starter, $136 less for a fuel pump, $555 less for a timing belt/chain and $78 less for a power steering pump.
IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Audi A3 Cabriolet will be $13954 to $14550 less than for the BMW 4 Series Convertible.
Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Cabriolet, based on reliability, safety and performance.
© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.
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