AUDI DE­LIV­ERS BANG FOR BUCK

NOTH­ING TO BLOW YOUR TOP OVER

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Driveway - Bill Buys

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.

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