Welcome to the new Audi S3 Cabriolet, the latest addition to the Audi performance model family. Sleek, good looking and sporty, the S3 Cabrio more than holds its own in a stable of stylish vehicle’s known for their on-road performance and luxurious driving experience.
On a bright and sunny day, the S3 Cabriolet comes into its own. This is the weather that these vehicles were built for and the S3 Cabrio is no different. There’s nothing quite like that feel of the sun on your face and the wind in your hair to bring back memories of youthful days when driving was something you did just for the pure pleasure of the journey, not just as a method of getting from A to B.
Should the balmy weather turn stormy and you find it necessary to close the roof to the elements, rest assured that you’ll be comfortable in the S3 Cabrio. It’s has a glass rear window, acoustic lining and takes 18 seconds to unfold/fold at a speed of 50kph. The acoustic lining, which comes standard, does a good job of cutting down on the level of road noise audible when the roof is in position.
Mechanically, the latest engine is 5kg lighter than previous S3 versions and comes with a bigger turbocharger with the outputs (210kW/380Nm) fed through an S-Tronic gearbox. If you crave a manual gearbox however, be warned, the S3 Cabrio comes with only one option, that of a six speed dual-clutch S-tronic automatic as Audi believes this option is the one that will most satisfy its target purchasers.
The S3 Cabrio is fitted with the standard S sports suspension, which means it sits 25mm lower than the regular A3 Cabriolet. This suspension, coupled with the standard Audi Drive Select system (which allows you to alter the responsiveness of the engine and steering), gives the S3 a unique feel on the road.
There is an S-signature four-pipe exhaust, a multimode touchscreen, xenon lamps, dual-zone climate control and sports seats in Nappa leather. In addition to front seat heating, the front seats are supportive and include a “neck scarf” feature which blows warm air down the necks of the occupants should you choose to drive with the top down on a fine winter’s day and listening to the 10 speaker stereo.
At 4.43 metres, the S3 Cabrio is about the same length as the S3 sedan, with both vehicles sharing neat proportions. The S3Cabrio, however, is heavier than the sedan by about 175kg, weighing in at 1650kg. Although the 285-litre cargo capacity of the S3 Cabriolet falls 160L short of the sedan (as you might expect), the volume doesn’t fall dramatically with the roof down, still totalling 245L (comparable with the size of a Toyota Corolla’s boot).
If you are looking to carry passengers in the rear, there is more space for the two rear occupants than is usually found from a compact convertible, but less than the average hatchback so think pre-teens rather than anyone over the age of 12.
Ultimately, the S3 Cabrio more than adequately fills a niche that has been missing in the Audi stable. The big question, however, is this a niche that truly needed filling when the S3 Cabriolet has a starting price of $69,300 plus on-road and dealer costs?