The New Audi A3 Cabriolet – Driven By EFTM – EFTM

The New Audi A3 Cabriolet – Driven By EFTM

Kangaroo Island, only Tasmania and Melville Island off the Northern Territory coast are bigger. This week the southern oasis was the scene for the national launch of the 2014...

Kangaroo Island, only Tasmania and Melville Island off the Northern Territory coast are bigger. This week the southern oasis was the scene for the national launch of the 2014 Audi A3 Cabriolet. With zero traffic and an abundance of open and sometimes demanding roads, it proved to be the ideal location for a decent go at the topless A3.

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First Drive

Being a terra-firma man the rather choppy charter flight from Adelaide over to the island’s capital Kingscote had me more than ready to settle into the first leg of a 130km run to the overnight stay. Having already driven the sedan expectations were already high. Three hoodless examples sat idle at the airfield so we soon set off, seat warmers and neck-level heating at the ready.

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Even with the windows down and strong cross winds the little convertible still managed to shield myself and an enthusiastic Audi appointed photographer particularly well from the mild conditions.

Given the typically country road conditions a surprisingly high-speed limit of 110km/h applied across most of the island. Despite the numerous dips, patchy and sometimes quite dicey road surfaces the A3 sans roof remained almost as clamped together as the sedan. A dead giveaway of what’s known as “Scuttle Shake” is usually the noticeable flapping around of the front A-pillars and windscreen frame. There’s been some terrible examples of this, a certain now extinct Saab comes to mind. But in this instance no blatant shake, rattle and roll was noticeable as the pristine environment flew by. To be honest it felt tighter than the larger A5 equivalent.

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Of course it’s really all about the roof or lack of and there’s a couple of interesting tidbits to share. Taking just 18 seconds to perform its synchronised party trick the top folds away at speeds up to 50km/h, ideal if you’re completely ignorant of the prevailing weather conditions or leave the room when Tim Bailey comes on. The entire system including the mechanical components weighs just 50kg’s. An acoustic roofliner can also be optioned to help replicate noise levels closer to that found in the sedan.

Aside from the obvious the cabrio is a replica of the already accomplished sedan. With a polished, clinically designed and precision constructed interior. The aviation style air vents are a standout, with the ability to diffuse airflow in a spot-targeted way. However Audi in my opinion may have slipped a little when it comes to interior splendor, BMW and in particular Mercedes are on par if not winning by a short half head at the moment.

Variants

During the test circuit three models were on hand. A 7-speed 1.4 TFSI COD Attraction S tronic, 6-speed 2.0 TDI diesel Ambition S tronic and the desirable 6-speed 1.8 TFSI petrol Ambition quattro S Tronic. I tested both the petrol models

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The smaller 1.4 TFSI puts out 103kW at 5000rpm with 250Nm available between 1500-5000rpm. An extra cog helps extract the most from the smaller unit. But taking 9.1 seconds to hit 100km/h will not tantalise those who like a bit of zing to their topless experience. The lower output requires a lengthy run up when contemplating a safe overtaking maneuver. But frugal it is, sipping a claimed 4.9-litres per 100km.

The pick of the crop is the 1.8-litre TFSI 6-speed quattro S tronic. With 132kW at 4500-6200 and a tidy 280Nm at 1350-4500rpm. 0-100km/h is dispatched in a respectable 7.6 seconds. With all four paws ready to receive power when called upon you can seriously haul some behind when your adventurous side comes alive. The claim is 6.6-litres per 100km at the pump, but a heavy right foot will easily produce figures over 10-litres.

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The 2.0 TDI 6-speed S tronic is no spectator either. 110kW at 3500-4000rpm and a punchy 320Nm at 1750-3000rpm produce an 8.8 second to 100km/h figure. It’s also the least thirsty at 4.7 litres per 100km.

The dual-clutch transmissions across the range be it six or seven speed perform slick and concise changes which bring into play the standard paddle shifters regularly.

Options / Pricing

This is where the Europeans start clawing back what on paper seems, well cheap. Trim levels, packages and various upgrades can prove to be a little more than concerning for your accountant. One package that is worth the extra $2000 is Technik. For the extra coin you score MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, colour Driver Information System, Audi parking system with rear view camera and park assist plus an Audi sound system.

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Here are the full pricing and equipment levels for the cars involved in the drive program.

Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI COD Attraction S Tronic – $47,300

  • Options fitted
  • Tecknik package – $2,000
  • Seat / neck heating – $1,250
  • Acoustic hood – $450
  • LED interior lighting package – $400

As tested – $51,400

Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDI Ambition S Tronic – $51,900

  • Options fitted
  • Technik package – $2,000
  • Style package – $1,350
  • Seat / neck heating – $1,250
  • Metallic paint – $1,150
  • Acoustic hood – $450
  • LED interior lighting package – $400

As tested $58,500

Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI Ambition quattro S Tronic – $54,000

  • Options fitted
  • S line edition launch package – $2,200
  • Technik package – $2,000
  • Seat / neck heating – $1,250
  • Metallic paint – $1,150
  • Acoustic hood – $450
  • LED interior lighting package – $400

As tested $62,350

A non-quattro 7-speed 1.8 TFSI Ambition S Tronic is available from – $51,900

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Handling

The A3 sedan is inherently well-balanced, so too the cabriolet. Ride quality is absorbent across all models with a big plus being the non-use of run flat tyres. The range topping 1.8 TFSI Ambition quattro S Tronic was fitted with sport suspension. Far from being overly stiff it did add an extra degree of stability to an already well sorted car. On Ambition models the Audi Drive Select modes of Auto, Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency rise to the occasion to suit your mood. Auto tries to read your mind, Comfort is for that lounge chair on wheels feel, Efficiency caters for the tree huggers and Dynamic will suit the more manic amongst us.

Final Say

Audi expect the A3 Cabriolet to account for 15 per cent of all A3 sales. Dare I suggest the audience may largely be that of the fairer sex? It’s certainly aimed at younger professionals who require a touch of class and quality. For mine I’d quite happily settle for the sedan model, it’s a brilliant and compact executive sedan which just looks the part. But for those who like more than their fair share of fresh air, the A3 Cabriolet delivers in spades.

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Oh and if you’ve never ventured to Kangaroo Island, do it. It’s a wondrous environment that’s bucket list worthy.

Chris Bowen travelled to Kangaroo Island as a guest of Audi Australia

Categories
Motoring

Chris works at Australia's leading radio station 2GB. He's worked on three radio Olympic games broadcasts, attending Beijing 2008 & London 2012. Deep down Chris harbours ambitions to one day sit behind the microphone himself. Aside from radio his other great passion is the motor car. Strangely he owns a Toyota Camry Hybrid, he defiantly rejects the knockers. Chris is married to Gillian and resides in Sydney's North West. They have Sam the English Springer Spaniel and Felix the Burmese cat to keep them company.
One Comment
  • Peter
    7 July 2014 at 8:21 am
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    Yet another Kangaroo Island “recommendation” just like the celebrity twitter endorsements & whisper campaigns of 2012 vintage.

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