2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet vs. 2019 Fiat 124 Spider

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s lane departure warning system alerts a temporarily inattentive driver when the vehicle begins to leave its lane and gently nudges the vehicle back towards its lane. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

The A3 Cabriolet Premium Plus/Prestige has standard Parking System Plus to help warn the driver about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind or in front of their vehicle. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer a front parking aid.

Compared to metal, the A3 Cabriolet’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Fiat 124 Spider has a metal gas tank.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the 124 Spider have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Audi A3 Cabriolet weighs 923 to 1191 pounds more than the Fiat 124 Spider. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

The A3 Cabriolet’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 124 Spider’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the A3 Cabriolet’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the 124 Spider’s camshaft. If the 124 Spider’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Cabriolet has a standard 320-amp alternator. The 124 Spider’s 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A3 Cabriolet’s reliability 43 points higher than the 124 Spider.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Fiat vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 51 more problems per 100 vehicles, Fiat is ranked 29th.

Engine

The A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 24 more horsepower (184 vs. 160) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the 124 Spider’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (184 vs. 164) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the 124 Spider Abarth’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl. The A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 64 more horsepower (228 vs. 164) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 184) than the 124 Spider Abarth’s standard 1.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the 124 Spider (13.2 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI Quattro’s standard fuel tank has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the 124 Spider (14.5 vs. 11.9 gallons).

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 Fiat 124 Spider (3). This means the A3 Cabriolet produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 124 Spider every 15,000 miles.

Transmission and Drivetrain

The Audi A3 Cabriolet comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the 124 Spider.

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 124 Spider.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer an SMG.

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 Fiat 124 Spider is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the A3 Cabriolet’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the 124 Spider:

 

A3

124 Spider

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11 inches

The A3 Cabriolet stops shorter than the 124 Spider:

 

A3

124 Spider

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Cabriolet has larger standard tires than the 124 Spider (225/45R17 vs. 195/50R16). The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 124 Spider (235/35R19 vs. 205/45R17).

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 124 Spider Classica’s standard 50 series tires. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the 124 Spider Lusso/Abarth’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the A3 Cabriolet has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the 124 Spider Classica. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the 124 Spider Lusso/Abarth.

The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Fiat 124 Spider only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

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 124 Spider; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The A3 Cabriolet has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A3 Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 11.3 inches longer than on the 124 Spider (102.2 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A3 Cabriolet is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 1 inch wider in the rear than on the 124 Spider.

Chassis

For excellent aerodynamics, the A3 Cabriolet has standard flush composite headlights. The 124 Spider has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space

The A3 Cabriolet has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 124 Spider can only carry 2.

Cargo Capacity

The A3 Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 124 Spider (7.1 vs. 4.9 cubic feet). The A3 Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top up than the 124 Spider (9.9 vs. 4.9 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The A3 Cabriolet uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 124 Spider 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 Fiat. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 127% lower rating, Fiat is ranked 31st.

Ergonomics

To help each driver find a more comfortable driving position, the A3 Cabriolet has a telescoping steering wheel. Much better than just a tilt steering wheel or adjustable seat, this allows a short driver to sit further from the steering wheel while maintaining contact with the pedals. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

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 124 Spider’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.

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 124 Spider Classica’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 124 Spider doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

The A3 Cabriolet has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The 124 Spider has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Lusso/Abarth.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

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 124 Spider doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The A3 Cabriolet’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The 124 Spider’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The A3 Cabriolet’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Fiat offers heated mirrors for extra charge, but only on the 124 Spider Lusso/Abarth.

The A3 Cabriolet’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The 124 Spider doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

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 124 Spider 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 124 Spider doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Fiat 124 Spider isn’t available as a sedan or station wagon.

Economic Advantages

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 124 Spider only retains 38.93% to 40.43%.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Audi A3 Cabriolet, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Fiat 124 Spider isn't recommended.

The Audi A3/S3 outsold the Fiat 124 Spider by over five to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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