By: IOL Motoring Staff
Johannesburg - Audi's design language seems to lend itself remarkably well to going topless; the TT roadster has always been a more elegant shape than the coupé version, the R8 Spider is sex on wheels - and now Audi SA has unleashed the Cabriolet version of the new, third-generation A3.
The new Audi A3 Cabriolet is bigger than the previous edition, being based on the A3 Sedan rather than the hatch; overall length has increased from 4240 to 4420 millimetres, wheelbase from 2580-2600mm and width from 1770 -1790mm. Only its height has been reduced 15 millimetres to 1410mm, while luggage capacity has increased by 60 litres to 320 litres.
With its flowing, almost sensual waistline, aluminium windshield frame and tapered aluminium 'barchetta' (little boat) trim around the cockpit, the compact four-seater looks just right with the top down, and almost as elegant with the soft fabric top up.
The top opens electro-hydraulically in 17 seconds (and closes in 18) while driving up to 50 km/h; when down, it rests in a tray inside the boot, folded into three compact layers. It has a glass rear window, a thicker inner foam layer to reduce the interior noise level, and is available in a choice of three colours - black, grey and brown - with either black or silver roof-lining.
A wind deflector is standard, as is an active rollover protection system consisting of two spring-loaded plates recessed into the body.
NUT AND BOLTS
The A3 Cabriolet is available at launch in South Africa with a choice of two proven engines - the 92kW 1.4-litre and 132kW 1.8-litre direct-injection TFSI turbopetrol fours - each with direct injection, and idle stop, and each available with either or S tronic transmission .
The 1.4 TFSI accelerates the new A3 Cabriolet from 0-100km/h in a claimed 10.2 seconds, at a cost of 5.3 litres per 100km and 124g/km of CO2, with the 1.8TFSI quoted at 7.8 seconds for the 0-100 sprint and a combined 5.8 litres per 100km. In either case, says Audi, that's about 12 percent better than the previous model.
The electronic stability programme incorporates an electronic limited slip differential, while the drive select vehicle dynamics system (standard on SE models, optional on the S) enables the driver to select engine management, power steering, S tronic and air conditioning settings over several modes.
A driver information system with efficiency programme and attention assist is standard; options include adaptive cruise control, park assist with selective display and various pre-sense safety system levels.
WHAT YOU GET
S models come with:
MMI Radio with full colour, slide-out liquid-crystal screen.
LED Interior lighting package
Exterior aluminium package
Front centre armrest
Leather covered multifunction four-spoked steering wheel
Light and rain sensors
Bluetooth with voice control and audio streaming
SE models add to that:
Five-spoked 17” cast aluminium alloy rims
Front fog lights
Drive select with efficiency programme
Leather covered multifunction three-spoked sports steering wheel
Automatic dual-zone air-conditioning
Driver Information display in colour
Upgraded sound system
WHAT YOU PAY
1.4 TFSI S - R419 500
1.4 TFSI S S tronic - R436 500
1.8 TFSI SE - R448 000
1.8 TFSI SE tronic - R465 000
Theese include a five-year or 100 000km maintenance plan, to extend to seven years or 200 000km.
STILL TO COME
Completing the range in the fourth quarter of 2014 will be the Audi S3 Cabriolet with the same two-litre TFSI turbopetrol as the S3 hatch and sedan; more detail is promised closer to arrival.