A soft-top for
Audi sticks to its guns with a cloth roof for the A3 cabriolet, writes KEVIN HEPWORTH
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.