Research into environmentally friendly technologies and what spurs development in this area has come up with a theory that at a certain level of affluence or wealth, people start demanding better, greener technologies. We’re seeing this more and more in the world of motoring. Once, the most desirable and most prestigious car was one with a massive engine and tons of cylinders that burned heaps of fuel and never mind the cost (it demonstrated that you had money to almost literally burn). Not any more: environmental sensitivity and sustainability are important and desirable (international legislation might also have something to do with this). Now, Germany is a country that prides itself on being a bit of a leader in the area of sustainability and renewable resources and all that sort of thing, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that recently developed luxury cars from this country (well, those that have their headquarters in that country, anyway) tend to have a focus on fuel economy. The Audi S3 Cabriolet is a case in point.
However, nobody really wants a return to cars that went off the smell of an oily rag but barely had enough oomph to get up a steep hill, or accelerate fast enough to get into that gap in the traffic and up to speed in a hurry. As a German backpacker we hosted overnight once said, it’s no fun being on the Autobahn in some small slow vehicle while everything else whizzes past you. Virtue – being environmentally responsible, in this case – should have its reward and driving a green car should be pleasurable. This has created a new challenge for vehicle designers and engineers: making cars that perform brilliantly on the road but don’t chew through the gas.
So has the Audi S3 Cabriolet managed to meet this challenge? Well, judge for yourself. Certainly, it’s a desirable-looking car. How could it not be, with a snappy three-door soft-top style matched with head-turning tailored details? However, even in the looks department, there are hints of the new “economy with performance” ethos. The front end of the Audi S3 Cabriolet looks all assertiveness and drive. However, at the rear end, the dual-branch chrome-trimmed exhausts are discreet and modest. No big bore exhausts here: that would be announcing to the world that you don’t give a stuff about emissions as well as being vulgar (kind of like farting loudly during a quiet bit in a wedding ceremony). Look even more closely and you’ll see other fuel-efficient touches. Those Xenon headlights may look aggressive and dynamic but they are partnered with fuel-saving LED daytime running lights. The low, lean body shape and deep grooves along the side enhance the aerodynamics and reduce the need for extra fuel. It’s also surprisingly lightweight (while not compromising on safety, thankfully), which also enhances efficiency.
Anyway, although the exterior design of the Audi S3 Cabriolet has something to do with meeting the twin challenges of fuel economy and top performance, it’s what’s behind the badge under the bonnet that counts. Inside the Audi S3 Cabriolet, you’ll find a four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with direct fuel injection and intercooling. This sounds like familiar territory. However, this very sporty engine is only a 2-litre and has a combined fuel economy figure of 7.1 L/100 km, which is very good going indeed for an automatic (6-speed S-tronic) with a full-time four-wheel drivetrain (Audi’s famous Quattro). In the performance department, the 210 kW of power on tap at 5600–6200 rpm and the 380 Nm of torque at 1800–5200 rpm means that the Audi S3 Cabriolet can reach a top speed of 250 km/h (which is probably limited) and can go from a standstill to the ton in 5.5 seconds. Just to recap, the Audi S3 Cabriolet is powered by petrol, even though most of us are used to seeing torque figures and curves like that in diesel units. This TFSI petrol engine incorporates Audi’s very precisely controlled Valvelift system, which is the secret behind the combination of power and lowered fuel consumption.
Naturally, the Audi S3 Cabriolet is fun to drive. The drive select function allows you to choose from three modes (comfort, auto and dynamic); these modes adjust a number of bits and pieces (e.g. the shock absorbers) to suit your driving preferences. The Quattro four-paw ability is nice and grippy (great for cornering), and this is enhanced by the active rollover protection system and the stability control package (includes ABS brakes, Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) and EDL). The brakes are, of course, fitted with an energy recovery system that turns the energy absorbed by the brakes during stopping into electrical charge. Stop-start technology also makes sure that (a) you get away quickly after stopping at the lights or when giving way and (b) you save fuel while you’re waiting. When the time comes to put the top up or down, this soft-top will put itself up and down in 18 seconds at speeds up to 50 km/h. Driving performance can be enhanced even further with the very sophisticated magnetic ride, which fine-tunes the firmness of the dampers to whatever’s going on at the moment using magnetic force fields.
Now, the Audi S3 Cabriolet is supposed to be a luxury vehicle, so it has to have some pretty good driver conveniences as well as the good looks, the performance and the fuel economy. Once again, the Audi S3 Cabriolet ticks all the boxes. Rear view camera and park assist? It’s there. Colour driver information system? Tick. Multifunction sports steering wheel trimmed with leather and with conveniently placed sports shift paddles? Tick. Heated sports seats trimmed in fine Nappa leather? Yet another tick. Automatic dual-zone climate control? Tick, although if you’ve got the top down, it might not be quite as noticeable in its effects. Light and rain sensors, convenience key and Bluetooth prep? Tick, tick and tick again.
The Audi S3 Cabriolet comes with a great navigation system as standard. This comes with a 7.0-inch colour touch-sensitive display screen, a single-disk DVD player, two memory card readers and 20 GB of space on the hard drive. This can also talk to the sound system, which has a total output of 180 W and 10 speakers, including one in the dashboard and a subwoofer lurking in the spare wheel well.
The design team at Audi can hold their heads high: the Audi S3 Cabriolet is indeed a luxury car that combined fuel economy and reduced emissions with tip-top performance, driving fun and comfort. It’s probably worth booking a test drive to experience it for yourself.
Current model series include:
For any more information on the Audi S3 Cabriolet, or for that matter any other new car, contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 303 181. If you’d like some fleet discount pricing (yes even for private buyers!), we can submit vehicle quotes requests out to our national network of Audi dealers and come back with pricing within 24 hours. Private Fleet – car buying made easy!