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Future models - Audi - A3 - Cabriolet

First look: Audi flips A3's wig

Dropped: Convertible A3 eschews the trend for folding metal hard-tops with a fabric roof.

Drop-top A3 finally emerges in Germany, eight months ahead of local sales

4 Dec 2007

AUDI has revealed full details and images of its first open-topped A3.

The A3 Cabriolet, Audi's smallest convertible, goes on sale in Europe in February and hits Australian showrooms around July 2008, when it will fill the gap between the new TT Roadster and the ageing A4 Cabriolet.

As the latest in a long line of Audi cabriolets, the open-air A3 will also be joined in the Audi stable by a topless version of the new A5/S5 coupe and perhaps even "Targa" version of its all-new R8 super-coupe.

For now, however, the front-drive 2+2 A3 soft-top will provide a direct rival for BMW's 1 Series convertible, which also goes on sale here next year, as well as Volkswagen's Eos, a folding hard-top convertible that starts from under $50,000 and, like Audi's own A3, shares the fifth-generation Golf's platform and engines.

7 center imageExpect the A3 cabrio to be priced upstream of the Eos from around $70,000, powered by the VW Group's new 1.8 turbo petrol four. A total of four direct-injection turbocharged engines will be offered in Europe, each available with the Audi S-tronic version of VW's dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

All models feature electromechanical power steering and can be specified with 15mm-lower sports suspension. The latter comes standard on Europe's "Ambition" variant, which also brings 17-inch alloys and sports seats. There will also be an "S-Line" sports exterior package on offer.

The biggest surprise is the retention of a folding fabric roof, which is in line with other chop-top Audis but eschews the trend towards folding metal arrangements. A heated rear window is a given, and Audi says the hood shape gives its newest model the profile of a coupe.

More practically, the Z-pattern design affords an impressive 674 litres of luggage space with the 50/50-split rear seat stowed – with the roof up or down –and can be operated at speeds of up to 30km/h, or from outside via the key.

With the twin rear seats in place there is 260 litres available and Audi says the option of both semi-automatic and fully automatic roof systems will be available, the latter featuring a specially soundproofed acoustic hood, which can be had in black, blue and red colours overseas.

The A3 Cabriolet measures 4238mm long, 1765mm wide and 1424mm high, and features daytime running lights in the form of an integral light strip comprising seven white light-emitting diodes. The car's tail-lights employ fibre optic rods arranged into two radiant rings.

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