2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet vs. 2019 Nissan 370Z

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 370Z 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 370Z 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 370Z 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 370Z 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 370Z doesn’t offer a lane departure warning system.

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 370Z 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 370Z doesn’t offer a cross-path warning system.

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 Nissan 370Z has a metal gas tank.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the 370Z 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 and available rear parking sensors.

Warranty

The A3 Cabriolet comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The 370Z’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A3 Cabriolet’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the 370Z’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A3 Cabriolet’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the 370Z’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

The 370Z’s redline is at 7500 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The A3 Cabriolet has a 6300-RPM redline.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the A3 Cabriolet has a standard 320-amp alternator. The 370Z’s 150-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 Nissan vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 7 places higher in reliability than Nissan.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A3 Cabriolet gets better fuel mileage than the 370Z Roadster:

 

 

 

MPG

A3 Cabriolet

 

FWD

40 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/35 hwy

 

AWD

45 TSFI 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

370Z Roadster

 

RWD

3.5 DOHC V6

16 city/25 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 370Z requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

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 Nissan 370Z (3). This means the A3 Cabriolet produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the 370Z every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Audi A3 Cabriolet as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Nissan 370Z is only certified to “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (ULEV) standards.

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 370Z.

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 370Z 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 Nissan 370Z is not available with all wheel drive.

Tires and Wheels

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 370Z’s standard 50 series front tires. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the 370Z Sport/Sport Touring’s 40 series front tires.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A3 Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 1.8 inches longer than on the 370Z (102.2 inches vs. 100.4 inches).

Passenger Space

The A3 Cabriolet has standard seating for 4 passengers; the 370Z can only carry 2.

The A3 Cabriolet has 27.4 cubic feet more passenger volume than the 370Z (79 vs. 51.6).

Cargo Capacity

The A3 Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top down than the 370Z Roadster (7.1 vs. 4.2 cubic feet). The A3 Cabriolet has a much larger trunk with its top up than the 370Z Roadster (9.9 vs. 4.2 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The A3 Cabriolet uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The 370Z 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 Nissan. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 47% lower rating, Nissan is ranked 20th.

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 370Z doesn’t offer a telescoping steering wheel.

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 370Z’s 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 370Z 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 370Z doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

The A3 Cabriolet’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Nissan only offers heated mirrors on the 370Z Sport/Sport Touring/NISMO.

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 370Z has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

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 370Z 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 370Z doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Standard smartphone integration for the A3 Cabriolet allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including finding fuel prices at nearby service stations, searching the internet, following twitter accounts and other connected activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The 370Z doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

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 370Z doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Nissan 370Z 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 370Z only retains 19.47% to 45.22%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the 370Z because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Cabriolet than the 370Z, including $118 less for a water pump, $161 less for a fuel pump, $100 less for front struts, $253 less for a timing belt/chain and $42 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Audi A3 Cabriolet and the Nissan 370Z, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The Audi A3/S3 outsold the Nissan 370Z by over five to one during the 2018 model year.

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

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