2019 BMW 2 Series vs. 2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 2 Series’ driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

The 2 Series has standard BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the 2 Series and the A3 Cabriolet have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes and rear parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the 2 Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 100 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The A3 Cabriolet has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 2 Series for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Audi only pays for the first scheduled maintenance visit on the A3 Cabriolet.

There are over 13 percent more BMW dealers than there are Audi dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 2 Series’ warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the 2 Series is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 2 Series’ battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A3 Cabriolet’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series second among small premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The A3 Cabriolet isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 14 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 13th.

Engine

The 230i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 64 more horsepower (248 vs. 184) and 37 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 221) than the A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The 230i’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 20 more horsepower (248 vs. 228) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The M240i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 107 more horsepower (335 vs. 228) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 2 Series’ fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 2 Series’ engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 2 Series, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Cabriolet.

The 2 Series Automatic’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the M240i’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Cabriolet:

 

M240i

A3 Cabriolet

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

13.6 inches

10.7 inches

The 2 Series’ standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the A3 Cabriolet are solid, not vented.

The 2 Series stops much shorter than the A3 Cabriolet:

 

2 Series

A3 Cabriolet

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

166 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 2 Series can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 2 Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The A3 Cabriolet’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 2 Series’ wheelbase is 3.7 inches longer than on the A3 Cabriolet (105.9 inches vs. 102.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 2 Series is 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the A3 Cabriolet.

Passenger Space

The 2 Series Convertible has 2.7 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Cabriolet (81.7 vs. 79).

Cargo Capacity

The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top down than the A3 Cabriolet with its top down (9.9 vs. 7.1 cubic feet). The 2 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the A3 Cabriolet with its top up (11.8 vs. 9.9 cubic feet).

With its coupe body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 2 Series offers cargo security. The A3 Cabriolet’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 2 Series is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the A3 Cabriolet. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

The 2 Series has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the 2 Series, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a memory system.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the 2 Series offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 2 Series offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 2 Series offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 2 Series also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

When the 2 Series is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The A3 Cabriolet’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold winter days, the 2 Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The 2 Series has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 2 Series owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 2 Series with a number “1” insurance rate while the A3 Cabriolet is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

The 2 Series will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 2 Series will retain 47.46% to 51.69% of its original price after five years, while the A3 Cabriolet only retains 45.88% to 46.51%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 2 Series is less expensive to operate than the A3 Cabriolet because it costs $378 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 2 Series than the A3 Cabriolet, including $79 less for a fuel pump, $157 less for front struts and $317 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends both the BMW 2 Series and the Audi A3 Cabriolet, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 2 Series first among small premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The A3 Cabriolet isn’t in the top three.

The M235i/M240i was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 3 of the last 5 years. The A3 Cabriolet has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 2 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2015. The A3 Cabriolet has never been an “All Star.”

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

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