AUDI DELIVERS BANG FOR BUCK
NOTHING TO BLOW YOUR TOP OVER
THE soft-top of Audi's S3 cabrio can go up or down in 18 seconds, even at up to 50km/h.
So I was told when I first drove one at its launch in Monaco.
Having had experience with various sports cars through the years, including a few years with an MGA, the folding top of which took two men up to 10 minutes to erect, I just had to put Audi’s claim to the test.
It was raining in Monte Carlo but the city has quite a few tunnels, and that’s where I was able to give the S3’s system a whirl.
It was faultless and all it took was a finger on a button. No hooks, no hinges, no leaks, and it had a clear glass rear window, rather than the MG’s yellowed plastic one. Evolution can be wonderful. The S3 cabrio is an interesting car: a two-plus-two with a small boot and a mighty 2.0litre turbo four-cylinder motor that puts out 210kW/380Nm.
That’s 11kW down on the Euro spec but it doesn’t matter, because it still goes like stink and it’ll probably only just have shifted into third gear when the Multanova takes a picture of you.
Transmission is a smooth sixspeed dual-clutch system that feeds all four wheels.
It’s a high-tech drivetrain that can take the fairly heavy droptop to 100km/h in a blistering 5.5 seconds and on to 250km/h, should you be lucky enough to be in the Northern Territory.
It has several driving modes too and gets quite vocal in sport mode, with its quad exhausts giv- ing sharp barks on full throttle upshifts.
Other items that might get some people excited include a multimode touchscreen, xenon headlights, dual-zone auto aircon and Nappa leather on the nicely bolstered seats.
Of course, the Audi behaves impeccably at Perth urban speeds and has a lot of comfort for a car riding on biggish alloys with lo-pro tyres.
All-wheel drive gives it secure passage through the corners, eliminates wheelspin and makes for excellent stability.
The car is beautifully built.
Its efficient engine doesn’t use much fuel (about 7.1litres/100km) at cruising speeds and it’s a very pleasant thing to be in, irrespective of the weather.
It’s priced from $69,300, which is not bad given its pedigree, and there’s a list of optional gear, including a pricey 14-speaker stereo system, which I'd stay away from because it would drown out the rapid-fire bang, bang, bang from those magnificent musical exhausts.
Verdict: Comfort, class and performance in one quickly convertible package.
Audi's S3... a classy cabrio.