A soft-top for

Audi sticks to its guns with a cloth roof for the A3 cabri­o­let, writes KEVIN HEP­WORTH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

ASOFT spot for tra­di­tion is the ba­sis for Audi’s A3 cabri­o­let. At a time when most car­mak­ers are turn­ing to fold­ing metal roofs, Audi in­sists on pro­vid­ing a soft-top al­ter­na­tive.

‘‘I have al­ways be­lieved that a small seg­ment of cus­tomers are true be­liev­ers — those who want their soft-top car to be a soft-top,’’ Audi Aus­tralia’s gen­eral man­ager for mar­ket­ing, Immo Buschmann, says.

‘‘They are the peo­ple who be­lieve that part of the joy of open-top mo­tor­ing is the at­trac­tion of a cloth roof.’’

Buschmann was speak­ing at the launch of Audi’s baby soft-top last week. The A3 is the latest in Audi’s line-up of ‘‘orig­i­nal’’ soft-top con­vert­ibles.

‘‘The A3 cabri­o­let is a log­i­cal ex­ten­sion for the brand,’’ he says.

‘‘We are one of the old­est brands in the world and from the very start cabri­o­lets were at the heart of the brand. In 1910, when we first started, all Audi cars were cabri­o­lets, road­sters or phaetons.

‘‘Mass pro­duc­tion and wider mar­ket de­mand led to sedans be­com­ing the cars of choice, but we al­ways recog­nised that seg­ments of the pre­mium mar­ket still wanted cabri­o­lets.’’

To sat­isfy that ‘‘small’’ seg­ment of true be­liev­ers, Audi is launch­ing the A3 with two en­gines and a pair of gear­boxes. It ex­pects to move 300 ex­am­ples this year and 400 in a full sales year.

The 1.8- litre TFSI ( 118kW, 250Nm) will be avail­able at $49,900 with the sin­gle gear­box choice of the six-speed S tronic, Audi’s ver­sion of the dou­ble-clutch au­to­matic.

For the more pow­er­ful (147kW and 280Nm) 2.0-litre TFSI, shared with the VW Golf, the S tronic is $57,500 and the six-speed man­ual is $54,900. Audi has not shut the door on a pos­si­ble diesel vari­ant, but it is not in im­me­di­ate plans.

Stan­dard equip­ment lev­els are rea­son­ably high. The 1.8-litre has four airbags, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, anti-skid brakes, elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion, 16-inch al­loy wheels, speed-sen­si­tive power steer­ing, two-layer semi-au­to­matic cloth roof, en­gine im­mo­biliser, cruise con­trol, dual cli­mate-con­trol air­con­di­tion­ing, trip com­puter, eight-speaker sound sys­tem with sin­gle-disc CD, split-fold rear seats and a cloth trim in­te­rior.

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