Printer Friendly

S3 turns up the heat on hot days; AUDI 'S FASTEST A3 SOFT.


SOME cars slip through the net and the new Audi A3 cabriolet is one of them. I've checked the nuclear-proof bunkers where our records are kept, and we've tested all the A3s (including the saloon) - but not the cabriolet.

So to make up for that omission, this week we're putting the brand-new S3 Cabriolet under the microscope. Audi hasn't made a hot version of its smallest cabriolet before, so this should be interesting. And with the temperature and sunshine gauges breaking their needles, it should be fun too.

If you own an old A3 cab, or a friend does, you might be able to spot that the new cabriolet is longer and wider than the old model.

This is because, like loads of cars in the Volkswagen group, it's based on the new MQB chassis that also sits under the Golf 's body.

One of the advantages of the MQB platform is that it's a lightweight structure, meaning many of the cars that use it weigh less than they used to.

Which is a very good thing, because by the time you've added the Quattro four-wheel drive system the S3 Cab is a bit of a fatty at 1,620kg (the entrylevel A3 soft top weighs 1,440kg, which isn't bad going).

Fortunately, working against this weight is the same turbocharged 2.0-litre TFSI engine that's fitted to the other S3s, and that means 296bhp and 280lb-ft of torque.

Launch control comes as standard and using it you can blast the S3 Cab to 62mph from rest in 5.4sec.

The only transmission available is Audi's six-speed S tronic gearbox, which is the VW DSG gearbox with another name.

The Quattro system feeds most of the torque to the front wheels and it's only when wheelspin or loss of grip is detected at the front that more is sent to the back wheels.

Audi's Drive Select system is standard and if you keep it in comfort mode, you'll think your dealer has accidentally supplied you with the wrong car.

Put it into economy mode and it feels like THe something really strange is happening, as the throttle response becomes very relaxed and not much happens when you prod the right-hand pedal.

But for the car's true performance to be revealed out you need to dial in the dynamic mode.

Now the throttle response is faster, the exhaust louder, suspension firmer and gear changes quicker.

It never feels like a sports car because the steering isn't particularly sharp or responsive, and neither is the handling receptive enough, but there's an enormous amount of grip and not a lot of body roll.

If you were after the full hot-hatch experience, you probably wouldn't be buying an open-top car anyway. Those snazzy red calipers grip on to 340mm front discs so stopping is never an issue. And another part of the S treatment is a ride height that's dropped 25mm from standard.

The ride is a bit fidgety at low speeds - even in comfort mode - but smooths out as you start to speed up.

There are many sportier motors for the S3 Cabriolet's PS38,085 but its only true rival comes from in house, and that's the Golf R Cabriolet, which is cheaper but not as fast.

Most of the cash that you're spending to get the S3 over the cooking versions goes on performance, but you do get a few cosmetic frills to make the car stand out as being special, such as xenon headlamps, aluminium-finish door mirrors and redesigned bumpers. Our test car's red brake calipers have S3 embossed on them, but you have to pay a cheeky extra PS325 to get them.

And on the inside there is a fat-bottomed steering wheel, grey dials with white needles and heated front seats complete with an embossed S. As we've said, the only direct rival to the S3 Cabriolet is the Golf R Cab, but that will soon change when BMW's new 2-Series convertible is launched.

I suspect that car will give the Audi a strong challenge as it's likely to be a lot more fun to drive.

Meanwhile, if you want an extremely well-made compact four-seat convertible with a lot of performance, Audi has just what you're seeking.


BMW 428i Luxury

Not really a true rival because it's bigger (new 2-Series cabriolet is on its way) but not a lot more money and a lovely car.


Mini Cooper Convertible JCW Chili Media

Again, not really a rival as it can't match Audi on space or pace.


Volkswagen Golf R Cabriolet

It's a lot less money, a similar level of quality but "only" 261bhp. This is an alternative well worth considering.



Audi S3 Cabriolet Four-seat convertible

Price: PS38,085

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder, 296bhp

0-62mph: 5.4sec

Fuel consumption: 39.7mpg

a Launch control is standard and with it you'll hit 62 in 5.4sec


SIZE With MQB chassis the A3's longer and wider
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 8, 2014

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters