A plea­sure from top down

Take in the good life at a price that does not hurt the hip pocket too much, CHRIS RI­LEY writes

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

THERE’S noth­ing like a drive in the coun­try on a sunny Sun­day af­ter­noon, es­pe­cially in a sportscar with the top down.

The des­ti­na­tion is unim­por­tant, it is the jour­ney that lifts the spir­its and helps you for­get your prob­lems for awhile.

Audi’s A3 Cabrio is ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence in a car that feels larger and more re­fined than be­fore — it’s bet­ter look­ing, too.

Prices for the Cabrio start from $47,300 for the en­try level 1.4-litre model. Our test ve­hi­cle with all-wheel drive and all the fruit will set you back $54,900 plus.

That’s plus $4200 for the de­sir­able S-Line pack, which brings 18-inch wheels and a sportier ap­pear­ance. Metal­lic or pearl paint adds $1150, and if you want nav­i­ga­tion that is part of the Tech­nik pack, that is $2650.

It adds up and our test ve­hi­cle with a long string of ac­ces­sories topped out at $62,350.

The Cabrio is larger and more com­fort­able than be­fore, weighs 75kg less and has a 17mm longer wheel­base with a new elec­tri­cally con­trolled fab­ric roof that re­tracts in 18 sec­onds — a feat that can be achieved at up to 50km/h.

De­spite the in­crease in size, there is still not much room in the back.

Leather and cli­mate air are stan­dard, along with au­to­matic lights and wipers, front and rear park­ing sen­sors, Blue­tooth with au­dio stream­ing, and MMI ra­dio sys­tem with an elec­tri­cally re­tractable, slim­line 5.8-inch colour dis­play mon­i­tor with eight pas­sive speak­ers.

It is the first time the A3 Cabrio has been of­fered with quat­tro.

It adds an­other level of safety and also de­liv­ers high lev­els of trac­tion in cor­ners.

The 1.8-litre tur­bocharged four -cylin­der petrol en­gine de­liv­ers 132kW of power and 280Nm of torque from a low 1350 revs.

Drive is de­liv­ered to all four wheels via a twin clutch-style, S-tronic au­to­matic, with pad­dle shifts. In con­trast to the twowheel-drive ver­sion, it puts out an­other 30Nm of torque and fea­tures a wet clutch with six speeds in­stead of seven — to cater for the higher out­put.

With seven airbags and a full com­ple­ment for driver as­sis­tance sys­tems, in­clud­ing elec­tronic trac­tion and sta­bil­ity con­trol, the A3 scores a full five stars for safety from ANCAP. A new ac­tive rollover pro­tec­tion sys­tem pro­tects oc­cu­pants in the event of a rollover.

The Cabrio is as sporty as it is green, scor­ing 4.5 out of a pos­si­ble five stars from the Govern­ment’s Green Ve­hi­cle Guide.

Cruis­ing out on the open road it all feels pretty good but we found the trans­mis­sion a lit­tle harsh and jerky in other sit­u­a­tions. Putting the car in sport mode smooths out the changes, but the de­layed changes are a bit manic.

In terms of per­for­mance the dash to 100km/h takes 7.6 sec­onds and Audi drive se­lect is stan­dard on this model which means you can dial in the way you want the car to be­have.

Fuel con­sump­tion is rated at a low 6.6 litres/100km us­ing pre­mium un­leaded fuel. We were get­ting 8.5 litres/100km af­ter a tick more than 500km.

Liked this car a lot, apart from the trans­mis­sion. It de­liv­ers the good life at a frac­tion of the price you might ex­pect. Four stars out of five.

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