An all-new Audi A3 Cabriolet will become available in Europe from this coming April (and Australia in the third-quarter 2014), based on the A3 sedan and featuring a full electrically retractable roof with a frame made of  high strength magnesium-steel clothed in tough fabric, eschewing the trend towards folding hardtops.

The roof can be fully retracted in around 18 seconds at speeds of up to 55kph. When retracted the top – complete with heated glass rear window – rests in a tray that Audi says, “barely affects luggage capacity, which amounts to 275 litres”.

A second even more sound-absorbent acoustic soft top with a three-layer inner padding will be fitted as standard to Sport and S line versions and offered as an option on SE models. Available in black, grey and brown, the roof liner can be specified in black or lunar silver. In all versions, an active rollover protection system of two spring-loaded plates that are recessed into the body, protects driver and passengers in the event of a rollover accident.

Standard equipment at entry level includes the fully automatic hood finished in black, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, an MMI radio incorporating an 11 millimetre-thick powered folding screen, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth interface, preparation for SD card-based navigation, and a light and rain sensor package.

Sport and S line versions upgrade to the acoustic hood and sit 15mm lower on their respective 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels. Both can also be equipped at no extra cost with the SE version’s more comfort-oriented standard suspension, while S line models can be taken to the other extreme with S line sports suspension lowered by 25mm and also available at no cost.

Shared Sport and S line features also include sports seats, Audi’s drive select adaptive dynamics system with five operating modes to fine-tune driving characteristics, dual-zone climate control and a high-resolution colour driver’s information system.

Interior highlights of the S line specification include part-leather-upholstery embossed with the S line logo and an S line sports steering wheel with perforated leather grips and shift paddles where S tronic is fitted.  Outside, 18-inch alloy wheels, S line body styling and xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lamps set the top model In the UK and Europe, the entry level model is home to the 1.4-litre TFSI unit linked to a six-speed manual transmission.

Next model is the 1.8-litre TFSI, which features a 0-100kph time of 7.8 seconds and a 240kph top speed. State-of-the art technologies including dual injection into the combustion chambers and induction manifold help to maintain a high level of efficiency, according to Audi. This engine is initially linked exclusively to a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission, which can make further fuel savings by switching into free-wheeling mode during coasting, where the Audi drive select system is fitted and its efficiency mode is selected.

The economy champion in the range will be the manual transmission-equipped 2.0 TDI.

The initial engine line-up when the A3 Cabriolet arrives in Australia, says Audi, will be comprehensive, consisting of two petrol (1.4 TFSI and 1.8 TFSI) and one diesel (2.0 TDI) unit. All will come standard with the sporty S tronic dual-clutch transmission.

Even with the roof stowed the Audi A3 Cabriolet boot offers 275 litres of storage space

Specification and model variants will mirror the Attraction and Ambition trim lines that have recently been launched locally in the A3 Sportback. According to Audi Australia’s Managing Director, Andrew Doyle, “The new A3 Cabriolet will enter the market in a strong position, with competitive pricing, supported by the early success of the A3 Sportback model.

“Creating a dynamic shape in such a compact form, while allowing for the folding mechanisms of the soft-top and a generous boot capacity, is quite a challenge. But the Audi Design team has really nailed its brief.

“We know that current A3 Cabriolet drivers, and many new customers, will be excited by the sporty styling of the new model. We certainly expect it will draw quite a few new admirers in the market.”


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