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Audi�s open-top S3 is all thrills


IT�S not very often that one gets an opportunity to drive four derivatives of the same car and have a totally new experience each time. This is how I felt driving the four different Audi S3 models throughout the past year. The three-door was a bit wild, aimed at the younger folk. Then, the Sportback added some practicality to the mix and the Sedan was, for me, the ultimate S3; it just had all the right ingredients.

I recently got my hands on the Cabriolet version of the S3 and again, it felt like a new experience. There’s the same 2.0-litre turbocharged motor with 206kW/380Nm powering the car. My upward view wasn’t some steel wrapped in material but rather, an infinite sky.

There is a price to pay for all that headroom though and that is weight. The Cabriolet version of the S3 is around 170kg heavier than its sedan sibling and that can certainly be felt in the acceleration stakes. Make no error, its 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds is certainly impressive however, you are aware of the weight holding it back as it reacts that fraction of a second later than you’d expect.

Its claimed consumption of 7.1 litres/100km was not achievable as I managed around 9.2 litres/100km during my tenure with the car. That means that with a 55-litre fuel tank you could very likely take an open-top trip to the coast.

The handling is also affected by the weight as the car is more prone to understeer than its hatch or sedan brethren. With the top down those signature burps from the S tronic gearbox changes are more audible and certainly more exciting though.

But to comment on its slightly blunted dynamics would be to totally miss the point of the car, which is to provide a fast, open-top driving experience with style and comfort aplenty. In this regard, the S3 Cabriolet delivers on its purpose.

You can’t approach this car without considering the price. My test unit was R700 000, which is a lot for a small Cabriolet. I did have niceties such as the MMI navigation plus with MMI touch, LED headlights, the gorgeous Alcantara/leather combination seats, the 18-inch Audi exclusive rotor cast aluminium alloy wheels from the old RS3, adaptive cruise control and sound by Bang & Olufsen.

So, all in all, if I were in the market for an S3 it would certainly not be the Cabriolet; the sedan is still the car for me however, that sensation of driving a fast open-top car will certainly have people lusting after this car.

The Audi S3 Cabriolet comes with a one-year unlimited mileage warranty as well as the freeway maintenance plan that runs for five years/
100 000km.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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