2019 BMW 4 Series Convertible vs. 2019 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Convertible offers an optional Side and Top View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The A3 Cabriolet only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

The BMW 4 Series Convertible weighs 410 to 889 pounds more than the Audi A3 Cabriolet. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible’s warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the 4 Series Convertible is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Convertible’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The A3 Cabriolet’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

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 4 Series Convertible’s reliability 26 points higher than the A3 Cabriolet.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Convertible first among compact 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 430i Convertible’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 430i Convertible’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 440i Convertible’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 94 more horsepower (322 vs. 228) and 74 lbs.-ft. more torque (332 vs. 258) than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI’s optional 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Convertible’s 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 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

The 4 Series Convertible has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet 40 TSFI’s standard fuel tank (15.8 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The 4 Series Convertible has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the A3 Cabriolet 45 TSFI Quattro’s standard fuel tank (15.8 vs. 14.5 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the BMW 4 Series Convertible, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the A3 Cabriolet.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 4 Series Convertible’s brake rotors are larger than those on the A3 Cabriolet:

430i

440i

A3

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.4 inches

12.3 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

10.7 inches

The 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

Tires and Wheels

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 4 Series Convertible has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the A3 Cabriolet.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible’s wheelbase is 8.4 inches longer than on the A3 Cabriolet (110.6 inches vs. 102.2 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 4 Series Convertible is 2.6 inches wider in the rear than on the A3 Cabriolet.

Chassis

The 4 Series Convertible’s standard power retractable hardtop allows a seamless transition from an open car, to a completely sealed coupe. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a retractable hardtop.

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Convertible has 11 cubic feet more passenger volume than the A3 Cabriolet (90 vs. 79).

The 4 Series Convertible has 3 inches more front headroom, 1 inch more front legroom, .5 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 1.2 inches more rear legroom and 4.1 inches more rear shoulder room than the A3 Cabriolet.

Cargo Capacity

The 4 Series Convertible has a larger trunk with its top down than the A3 Cabriolet with its top down (7.8 vs. 7.1 cubic feet). The 4 Series Convertible has a much larger trunk with its top up than the A3 Cabriolet with its top up (13.1 vs. 9.9 cubic feet).

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Convertible’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible, 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.

The 4 Series Convertible offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 4 Series Convertible offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The A3 Cabriolet doesn’t offer cornering lights.

When the 4 Series Convertible 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 4 Series Convertible’s 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.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 4 Series Convertible owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 4 Series Convertible with a number “1” insurance rate while the A3 Cabriolet is rated higher at a number “5” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 4 Series Convertible is less expensive to operate than the A3 Cabriolet because it costs $432 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the 4 Series Convertible than the A3 Cabriolet, including $149 less for fuel injection and $77 less for front struts.

Recommendations

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Convertible third among compact 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 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The A3 Cabriolet has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series Convertible was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The A3 Cabriolet has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Audi A3/S3 by 71% during 2018.

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

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