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Audi announces A3 Cabriolet

Released in Europe during February, the Audi A3 Cabriolet will go on sale locally in July 2008.

Audi's move follows BMW's decision to make a cabrio version of its forthcoming 1 Series, news of which was published as a world-first in

The A3 Cabriolet will fill a gap between the aging A4 cabrio and the TT roadster. Audi's al fresco ambitions don't stop there with an open top version of the A5 coupe a certainty. And there's talk of a targa R8.

With a decision on Australian pricing some way off,  $70,000 to $80K plus would be our guesstimate for the likely two-model line-up.

The A3 Cabrio retains some of its hatchback utility, with the rear seat backs folding down to afford a potential 674 litres luggage space, roof up or down. Unlike most new cabrios, but in keeping with Audi's past practice, the A3's roof will be fabric, not a folding metal arrangement.

While ostensibly a rival for its fellow Bavarian, another potential competitor is already available here in the form of the well-received Volkswagen Eos. The Eos has arguably the best folding metal arrangement available but starts from less than $50K.

Indeed, the A3 shares the same Mark V Golf underpinnings and drivetrains. A version with the VW Group's new 1.8 turbo petrol four is the most likely starter. A diesel will at least be considered.