2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet vs. 2019 Buick Cascada

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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 Cascada doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A3 Cabriolet has standard Audi Pre Sense Front, which use forward mounted sensors to warn the driver of a possible collision ahead. If the driver doesn’t react and the system determines a collision is imminent, it automatically applies the brakes at full-force in order to reduce the force of the crash or avoid it altogether. The Cascada has a collision warning system without the crash-mitigating brake feature that could reduce stopping distances.

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

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 Cascada 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 Cascada doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the Cascada have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, 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.

Warranty

The A3 Cabriolet’s corrosion warranty is 6 years longer than the Cascada’s (12 vs. 6 years).

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Cabriolet has a standard 320-amp alternator. The Cascada’s 140-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Buick vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 12 places higher in reliability than Buick.

Engine

The A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 28 more horsepower (228 vs. 200) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the Cascada’s 1.6 turbo 4 cyl.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A3 Cabriolet higher (7 out of 10) than the Buick Cascada (5). This means the A3 Cabriolet produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Cascada every 15,000 miles.

Transmission and Drivetrain

A seven-speed automatic (SMG) is standard on the Audi A3 Cabriolet, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the Cascada.

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 Cascada 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 Buick Cascada is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

The A3 Cabriolet stops shorter than the Cascada:

 

A3 Cabriolet

Cascada

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

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 Cascada’s 40 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

For superior ride and handling, the Audi A3 Cabriolet has fully independent front and rear suspensions. An independent suspension allows the wheels to follow the road at the best angle for gripping the pavement, without compromising ride comfort. The Buick Cascada has a rear torsion beam axle, with a semi-independent rear suspension.

The A3 Cabriolet has standard front and rear stabilizer bars, which help keep the A3 Cabriolet flat and controlled during cornering. The Cascada’s suspension doesn’t offer a rear stabilizer bar.

The A3 Cabriolet handles at .86 G’s, while the Cascada Premium pulls only .84 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the A3 Cabriolet’s turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Cascada’s (36.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis

The Audi A3 Cabriolet may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 350 to 550 pounds less than the Buick Cascada.

The A3 Cabriolet is 10.8 inches shorter than the Cascada, making the A3 Cabriolet easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The A3 Cabriolet has .2 inches more front shoulder room and .2 inches more rear headroom than the Cascada.

Cargo Capacity

A standard locking glovebox keeps your small valuables safer in the A3 Cabriolet. The Cascada doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

Servicing Ease

The A3 Cabriolet uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Cascada uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Buick. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 21% lower rating, Buick is ranked 9th.

Ergonomics

Audi Advanced Key optional on the A3 Cabriolet allows you to unlock the driver’s door, trunk and start the engine all without removing a key from pocket or purse. This eliminates searching for keys before loading groceries, getting in the vehicle in bad weather or making a hurried start to your trip. The Buick Cascada doesn’t offer an advanced key system.

The A3 Cabriolet’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Cascada’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Cascada doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors standard on the A3 Cabriolet Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The Cascada doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The A3 Cabriolet Prestige has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Cascada has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the Cascada offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A3 Cabriolet has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Cascada doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the A3 Cabriolet Prestige has a standard Adaptive Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The Cascada doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Cascada doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A3 Cabriolet owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the A3 Cabriolet with a number “5” insurance rate while the Cascada is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The A3 Cabriolet will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the A3 Cabriolet will retain 45.88% to 46.51% of its original price after five years, while the Cascada only retains 35.55% to 35.99%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the Cascada because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Cabriolet than the Cascada, including $33 less for a water pump, $472 less for a muffler, $82 less for front brake pads and $15 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Cabriolet, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Buick Cascada isn't recommended.

The Audi A3/S3 outsold the Buick Cascada by almost five to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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