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Geneva show: Audi reveals S3 cabriolet

Around the corner: The heavier S3 cabriolet brings open-air fun to Audi’s heated-up small-car family, and arrives in Australia by year’s end

Drop-top cabriolet version of Audi’s hot S3 completes performance trio

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Audi logo20 Feb 2014

By DANIEL GARDNER

AUDI has revealed the S3 cabriolet ahead of its world premiere at the Geneva motor show next month and Australian debut around November.

Sporting the same mechanicals as its S3 hatch and sedan siblings – a 221kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-four detuned to 206kW for Australia, with quattro all-wheel-drive – the S3 soft-top will arrive in local showrooms about five months after the regular A3 cabrio.

Considering the regular A3 convertibles will carry a premium of about $10,000 over the equivalent A3 Sportback hatch, expect the topless S3 to hit the market at somewhere around $70,000 - $75,000.

The hot drop-top variant will complete the trio of heated-up S3 body-styles, joining the S3 Sportback that arrived here last December and the imminent boot-boosted S3 sedan due in April.

Quattro four-wheel-drive traction, the familiar EA888 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine and S-tronic six-speed double-clutch transmission (and probably six-speed manual gearbox) are all carried over unchanged from the metal-roofed Sportback.

Audi de-tunes the Sportback’s engine from 221kW/380Nm to 206kW/380Nm to reduce stress in hot climates such as ours. Expect the cabriolet to follow suit.

Audi claims the topless S3 can dash from zero to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds in hotter European guise – three-tenths slower than the Sportback. Fuel consumption is up 0.2 litres to 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle.

The S3 Cabriolet shares the same weight-reduced magnesium/aluminium/steel roof mechanism of the A3 version, but still weighs in at 195kg more than the Sportback.

The extra weight of the roof over the rear axle is not all bad news though, as the front to rear weight distribution creeps closer to the holy-grail of 50:50.

The Sportback has a more nose-heavy 59:41 ratio, while the cabriolet manages 56:44.

Those extra kilos have also been countered by slightly beefed-up spring-rates which maintain the same ride-height as the Sportback – 25mm lower than the A3 – but the cabriolet has an overall 14mm shorter profile thanks to its rag-top.

As with standard versions, the fabric roof takes 18 seconds to operate, at speeds up to 50km/h, and can be custom-matched in a choice of three colours to the 12 body colours on offer.

Interiors share the same choice of black nappa or velvet leather as the Sportback cousin but open-top versions have a special heat-reducing seat pigmentation to prevent the seats becoming uncomfortably hot if left exposed to the sun.

Unchanged from the hard-top S3 Sportback are the 18-inch five-spoke wheels with the option to upgrade to 19-inch rims in various designs, Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system and 340mm front brake discs.

Other S3 shared features include special exhaust valves to alter the engine note depending on driving conditions, slinky S-badged interior highlights including a leather sport steering-wheel connected to variable electric power-steering and top-spec Bang & Olufsen stereo.

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