2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet vs. 2019 BMW Z4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The A3 Cabriolet has standard tall side airbags which act as a forgiving barrier between the driver and front passenger's upper bodies and the window and pillars. Combined with high-strength steel door beams and lower side airbags this system increases head protection in broadside collisions. The Z4 doesn't offer side airbag protection for the head.

The A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Z4 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the Z4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

Reliability

The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the Z4’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

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.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI gets better fuel mileage than the Z4 sDrive30i (26 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/32 hwy).

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 Z4 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission and Drivetrain

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 Z4 doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

All wheel drive, available in the A3 Cabriolet, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The BMW Z4 is not available with all wheel drive.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A3 Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 5 inches longer than on the Z4 (102.2 inches vs. 97.2 inches).

Passenger Space

The A3 Cabriolet has standard seating for 4 passengers; the Z4 can only carry 2.

Servicing Ease

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.

Ergonomics

The A3 Cabriolet’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Z4’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A3 Cabriolet to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Z4 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the BMW Z4 isn’t available as a sedan or station wagon.

Recommendations

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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