2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet vs. 2019 Volkswagen Beetle

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 Beetle 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 Beetle doesn't offer collision warning or crash mitigation brakes.

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

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the Beetle have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front wheel drive, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The A3 Cabriolet comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. Audi will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump-start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Volkswagen doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Beetle.

The A3 Cabriolet’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Beetle’s (12 vs. 10 years).

Reliability

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 Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 16 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 19th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 9 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

The A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (184 vs. 174) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 54 more horsepower (228 vs. 174) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 184) than the Beetle’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

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 Beetle.

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 Beetle 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 Volkswagen Beetle is not available with all wheel drive.

Brakes and Stopping

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

 

A3 Cabriolet

Beetle

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

11.3 inches

Rear Rotors

10.7 inches

10 inches

The A3 Cabriolet stops much shorter than the Beetle:

 

A3 Cabriolet

Beetle

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

178 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the A3 Cabriolet has larger standard tires than the Beetle (225/45R17 vs. 215/55R17).

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 Beetle S’ standard 60 series tires. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Beetle’s optional 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 Beetle S. The A3 Cabriolet Prestige’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels optional on the Beetle.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A3 Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 2.1 inches longer than on the Beetle (102.2 inches vs. 100.1 inches).

The A3 Cabriolet handles at .86 G’s, while the Beetle Convertible pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The design of the Audi A3 Cabriolet amounts to more than styling. The A3 Cabriolet has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .31 Cd. That is significantly lower than the Beetle (.37) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the A3 Cabriolet get better fuel mileage.

Servicing Ease

The A3 Cabriolet uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Beetle 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 Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 43% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 16th.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the A3 Cabriolet the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Beetle can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 Beetle S’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

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 Beetle only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

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 Beetle 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 Beetle doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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 Beetle offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The A3 Cabriolet has a 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. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Beetle SE/SEL.

Both the A3 Cabriolet and the Beetle 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 Beetle 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 Beetle doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

The A3 Cabriolet’s standard separate stalk mounted cruise control is close at hand. The Beetle’s standard cruise control is on an over-crowded turn signal stalk.

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 Beetle doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The Audi A3 comes in convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Volkswagen Beetle 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 Beetle only retains 40.49% to 41.25%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the A3 Cabriolet is less expensive to operate than the Beetle because typical repairs cost much less on the A3 Cabriolet than the Beetle, including $298 less for a muffler, $70 less for a fuel pump, $373 less for a timing belt/chain and $49 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

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

The Audi A3/S3 outsold the Volkswagen Beetle by 37% during the 2018 model year.

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

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