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Audi S3 Cabriolet 2014 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Paul Gover road tests and reviews the 2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Audi aims the S3 soft-top at those who like driving - as well as fresh air. Spring days are best for open-air driving, before it gets too hot and burning, and Audi is casting its open-air net using a droptop with a difference.

It's the S3 Cabriolet, a good looker with a reasonable turn of pace and a price tag that won't break the bank, from $69,300. It's not a proper pocket rocket but it has enough go to satisfy people who like to drive but enjoy fresh air first.

It also helps that it steps up and away from a regular A3 Cabrio to provide the bragging rights that are so essential in upwardly mobile jobs and suburbs. Australia is still denied the full 221kW package of the European S3 turbo cars but the S3 Cabrio drives tidily and there is plenty of standard luxury.

The arrival of the S3 Cabrio has been timed for the start of the sunshine season and the changes to the car, from the regular A3 Cabrio and the S3 hatch, are enough to satisfy people who might be cross-shopping something like a Mini Roadster.

Being realistic, there is no proper, logical reason for Audi to rip the roof off the S3. But it could, so it did, and it works well. The roof itself has a glass rear window, acoustic lining and takes 18 seconds to fold or unfold at up to 50km/h.

Mechanically, the latest engine is 5kg lighter and comes with a bigger turbocharger, the outputs (210kW/380Nm) fed through an S-Tronic gearbox. There is an S-signature four-pipe exhaust, an multimode touchscreen, xenon lamps, dual-zone auto aircon and sports seats with Nappa leather.

Audi says there is extra strengthening including magnesium and aluminium supports, distinctive alloy wheels and other body bling. The S3 Cabrio is a genuine four-seater but you won't want to be carrying much in the boot. If you do, it could mean - as I found after the grocery shopping - that the roof won't fold away.

It's not cheap at $69,300, but the price is in step with other A3 models including the S3 sedan that landed in May. Against its rivals, it's a reasonable price. If you want to spend more, there are adaptive dampers at $2200, LED headlamps at $2300 and Bang & Olufsen audio (705W and 14 speakers) $1750.

Audi Australia is forecasting 10-15 sales a month, based on existing demand for the other two S3 models. Most buyers will be men, over 30, successful in their career and interested in technology.

But the marketing blah evaporates when I hit the start button and drop the top. The S3 Cabrio is a car to be enjoyed and it stays on the sensible side of the "tipping point" that affects all droptops. That's the line between a car that has enough power for fun without generating so much go that it turns the chassis into a floppy failure.

There is a little wobble in the S3, which I feel through the steering wheel, but it never gets to the point where the chassis becomes nastily flexible. The suspension is, sensibly, not set too firm and that means good grip with compliance over bumps on country roads.

The S3 gets along well enough and, with the top down, the exhaust note - complete with pops on full-power upshifts - brings a smile. It's a swift car but there is still room for the coming TT Roadster to take the high ground for Audi in the roadster ranks.

The top itself works well, there is reasonable cabin space for two adults and a couple of pre-teens, and the buffeting with the top down is minimal.

Verdict

Overall, the S3 Cabriolet is a sweet package and a sweet little car that should do well in Australia. It's not a standout but it is aimed at people who want open-air enjoyment with a sporty edge - it hits the bullseye.

Pricing guides

$34,789
Based on 50 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$27,999
Highest Price
$39,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $31,200 – 40,810 2014 Audi S3 2014 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $26,100 – 34,650 2014 Audi S3 2014 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI Quattro 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $27,200 – 36,080 2014 Audi S3 2014 2.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Pricing Guide

$27,999

Lowest price, based on 47 car listings in the last 6 months

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