Edge your bets
Audi aims the S3 soft-top at those who like driving — as well as fresh air
SPRING days are best for openair driving, before it gets too hot and burning, and Audi is casting its open-air net using a droptop with a difference.
It’s the S3 Cabriolet, a good looker with a reasonable turn of pace and a price tag that won’t break the bank, from $69,300.
It’s not a proper pocket rocket but it has enough go to satisfy people who like to drive but enjoy fresh air first.
It also helps that it steps up and away from a regular A3 Cabrio to provide the bragging rights that are so essential in upwardly mobile jobs and suburbs.
Australia is still denied the full 221kW package of the European S3 turbo cars but the S3 Cabrio drives tidily and there is plenty of standard luxury.
The arrival of the S3 Cabrio has been timed for the start of the sunshine season and the changes to the car, from the regular A3 Cabrio and the S3 hatch, are enough to satisfy people who might be crossshopping something like a Mini Roadster.
Being realistic, there is no proper, logical reason for Audi to rip the roof off the S3. But it could, so it did, and it works well. The roof itself has a glass rear window, acoustic lining and takes 18 seconds to fold or unfold at up to 50km/h.
Mechanically, the latest engine is 5kg lighter and comes with a bigger turbocharger, the outputs (210kW/380Nm) fed through an S-Tronic gearbox.
There is an S-signature fourpipe exhaust, an multimode touchscreen, xenon lamps, dual-zone auto aircon and sports seats with Nappa leather.
Audi says there is extra strengthening including magnesium and aluminium supports, distinctive alloy wheels and other body bling. The S3 Cabrio is a genuine fourseater but you won’t want to be carrying much in the boot. If you do, it could mean — as I found after the grocery shopping — that the roof won’t fold away.
It’s not cheap at $69,300, but the price is in step with other A3 models including the S3 sedan that landed in May. Against its rivals, it’s a reasonable price.