Leaked images of the new Audi A3 Cabriolet have emerged ahead of the compact droptop's debut at next week's Frankfurt Motor Show. Audi has sold a convertible A3 in Europe since 2008, although that car has never made it to the US market. Still, with Audi already bringing an A3 and S3 sedan across the pond, there's hope for this small convertible to arrive here.
The looks of the A3 Cabrio aren't a huge departure from the A3 sedan, besides the obvious deletion of rear doors. We can't tell from the images shown, but considering Audi still hasn't brought a folding hardtop to market, we don't imagine it'll start with an entry level model like the A3. Expect a fast-folding canvas roof, much like the A5 Cabriolet.
From the leaked images, we can see TFSI and Quattro badges on this A3. It seems natural that the Cabrio will sport the same range of four-cylinder engines as the sedan - a 2.0-liter TDI, a 1.4-liter turbo and a 2.0-liter turbo. Of course, we'll have much more on the new A3 Cabrio when it makes its debut in Frankfurt.
ALL-NEW CABRIOLET TOPS OFF AUDI A3 RANGE IN FRANKFURT
Sleek new compact class soft-top adds easily accessible wind-in-hair driving pleasure to all-new A3's long list of attributes
- World debut at 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show (September 12-22), UK ordering from late October, first UK deliveries in March 2014
- Fourth model in all-new A3 range
- Automatic fabric roof opens and closes hydraulically in less than 18 seconds and is fully concealed from view when retracted
- Three engines at launch – 1.4 TFSI 140PS with cylinder-on-demand, 1.8 TFSI 180PS, 2.0 TDI 150PS
- First ever quattro-equipped Cabriolet models, and first ever S3 quattro Cabriolet, to follow
- High-end equipment and advanced options including Audi connect with 4G/LTE high-speed internet connectivity
Drawing inspiration from the new Audi A3 Saloon with its flowing lines and finely balanced proportions, the all-new A3 Cabriolet makes its world public debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The compact class open-top will become available for UK ordering in late October, and will reach its first customers here in March 2014.
To achieve its sleeker profile and provide the capacity for complete soft-top concealment when in open mode, the new compact class cabriolet has grown compared to the previous model: its length has increased from 4.24 to 4.42 metres, its wheelbase from 2.58 to 2.60 metres and its width from 1.77 to 1.79 metres. Only its height (1.41 metres) is down on its predecessor, by 15 millimetres. Luggage capacity has also grown by 60 litres (2.12 cubic ft), and access to that space has been improved.
The front of the Audi A3 Cabriolet is characterised by the single frame radiator grille, which is flanked by flat headlamps that can light the way using either halogen or xenon bulbs depending on version, or using optional LED headlamp technology.
The rear overhang plays a key role in the harmonious proportions of the two-door car. The windscreen frame is made of aluminium – and an aluminum-look trim strip runs around the roof aperture. On the flanks, the design features a taut tornado line and contoured surfaces that take full advantage of light and shadow.
The soft top
The new A3 Cabriolet has a soft fabric roof that is stretched over a lightweight kinematic mechanism made of magnesium-steel, and it complements the car's design perfectly. At the press of a button, the top opens or closes electro-hydraulically in less than 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. When retracted, the top – folded into three layers – rests in a tray that barely affects luggage capacity, which is 287 litres (10.14 cubic ft).
The acoustic soft top has a glass rear window and is available in black, grey and brown - its roof liner can be specified in black or lunar silver. The fully automatic acoustic hood has a thicker inner foam layer which further reduces the already low interior noise level of the A3 Cabriolet. A wind deflector and head-level heating for the front seats will be available from the options list. An active rollover protection system consisting of two spring-loaded plates that are recessed into the body protects the occupants in case of a rollover accident.
The new Audi A3 Cabriolet is around 50 kilograms lighter than the previous model despite its larger size and improved comfort – the kerb weight of the entry-level version is just 1,365 kilograms. Even taking into account its special reinforcements, which deliver high torsional rigidity, the body-in-white with its aluminium bonnet weighs 30 kilograms less than previously. Weight was also significantly reduced in the interior and in the engines, contributing to best-in-class figures which bear testament to the Vorsprung durch Technik brand's intensity of focus on lightweight construction principles.
Elegant lines, clean surfaces and typically uncompromising quality also mark out the interior design of the new Audi A3 Cabriolet. The instrument panel is lean and low, with a gently curved frontal section and a centre console angled slightly towards the driver. The large, round air vents with their 'jet design', the electrically retractable 5.8-inch colour monitor complemented by the Driver's Information System with efficiency and rest recommendation assistants, the control panel for the air conditioning system and the three-dimensional trim strips help to maximise the air of premium class sophistication. So, too, do features such as the optional lighting package which for the first time includes a touch-sensitive switch for the reading lights.
The cabin offers enough space for four adults, and the seatbacks of the two rear seats can be folded down to create a wide through-load area. The steering wheel and seats are new designs, and the new electro-mechanical parking brake is operated by a button on the centre console. Depending on which of the three trim levels – SE, Sport and S line – is chosen by UK customers, the seats are finished in either cloth or a combination of cloth and leather, with full leather and an Alcantara/leather mix available on the options list.
Highly developed optional assistance systems can also be specified to make day-to-day life in the A3 Cabriolet even more relaxed. They include adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, camera-based traffic sign/speed limit recognition, park assist with selective display and various feature levels of the Audi pre sense safety system.
Also extremely attractive is the line-up of infotainment components, which is headed by the Bang & Olufsen sound system and MMI Navigation plus. The latter combines an ultra-slim seven-inch monitor with a user terminal incorporating a rotary/push button control that is designed as a touchwheel to accommodate the MMI touch function – the touchwheel's top surface is a touch-sensitive pad for inputting alpha and numeric characters.
To build on this, customers can also specify the Audi connect option, which allows occupants to more fully exploit the A3's highly advanced computing potential by connecting it to the Internet, whenever possible via the fast 4G/LTE transmission standard (available from November). The integrated WLAN hotspot enables passengers to use their mobile devices to surf and e-mail freely, and by going online the car can also offer everything from navigation with Google Earth images and Google Street View to online traffic information and tailored social media access. The most recent addition to the lengthy list of valuable Audi connect features is a parking information function, which shows available parking spaces in public car parks.
Three newly developed engines will be offered in the Audi A3 Cabriolet at its launch, all placing the emphasis as much on performance as on efficiency. The two TFSI engines produce 140PS and 180PS from 1.4 and 1.8 litres of engine displacement, respectively, while the 2.0 TDI develops 150PS; other engines will follow – ranging from the 1.6 TDI with 110PS to the 2.0 TFSI, which will power the Audi S3 Cabriolet with 300PS. All engines in the new Audi A3 Cabriolet employ direct injection and turbocharging and are backed up by a start-stop-system.
On average, the three launch engines bring a fuel economy improvement of around 12 per cent compared with their closest equivalents in the previous A3 Cabriolet range, despite also making performance gains. The 1.4 TFSI with six-speed manual transmission, for example, powers the new car from 0 to 62mph in 9.1 seconds, yet also achieves a very healthy 56.5 mpg with CO2 emissions of 114 g/km. Also contributing to this efficiency is Audi cylinder on demand (COD) technology, which deactivates two of the engine's cylinders in low load conditions.
The 1.8-litre TFSI is also a state-of-the art unit with an extensive package of high-end technologies, including dual injection into the combustion chambers and induction manifold. It is initially linked exclusively to a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission, and where the Audi drive select vehicle dynamics system is fitted, it offers a free-wheeling function that further improves fuel economy. According to the combined cycle test it is capable of returning up to 48.7 mpg with CO2 emissions of 133g/km.
Not surprisingly the manual transmission-equipped 2.0 TDI with 150PS remains the economy champion in the first phase of engines, offering combined fuel consumption of 67.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km.
The chassis of the new Audi A3 Cabriolet takes the much praised set-up employed by the rest of the A3 range as its technical basis. The MacPherson strut front and four-link rear setup includes lightweight aluminium elements, and the multi-link rear configuration is able to handle longitudinal and transverse forces separately. As with all other A3 models, Cabriolet models will offer a no-cost choice between comfort-oriented standard suspension and tauter sports suspension lowered by 15mm. S line versions will offer three choices – standard suspension, sports suspension and even more focused S line sports suspension lowered by a further 10mm over the sports set-up.
The power steering system features an efficient electromechanical drive, and to ensure that handling remains assured and safe but also adjustable right to the cornering limits the ESC stabilisation control system integrates an electronic limited slip differential. In support of this, powerful and durable brakes sit behind wheels ranging in size from 16 to 19 inches.
To tailor the A3 Cabriolet driving experience more completely to the preferences of the driver, the Audi drive select vehicle dynamics system will also be offered. It features a choice of modes governing the operating characteristics of the engine management, power steering, S tronic transmission and air conditioning. This control also extends to optional systems such as the adaptive suspension control system Audi magnetic ride, adaptive cruise control, adaptive light and progressive steering whose steering gear ratio becomes increasingly more direct when turning.
The Audi S3 Cabriolet (preliminary data)
The first ever S3 Cabriolet will follow shortly after the initial launch. Its 2.0 TFSI engine will deliver 300PS and transfer 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque to the crankshaft. Equipped as standard with the six-speed S tronic transmission, it will be capable of completing the sprint from 0 to 62mph in 5.4 seconds, yet will also offer the potential to cover up to 39.8mpg.
The strikingly styled body with its trademark S quattro styling elements will sit 25mm lower than the standard car on S specific sports suspension, which will be complemented by quattro all-wheel-drive via an electronically-controlled hydraulic multi-plate coupling, and by the new progressive steering system with its more direct and progressive response.
- With 300 hp and 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft), more powerful than ever before
- The first S Cabriolet in the compact class
- quattro for a fascinating driving experience
Dynamism in the open air – Audi presents the S3 Cabriolet. The open-top four-seater is unrivaled in its segment. Its 2.0 TFSI engine develops 221 kW (300 hp) and delivers 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque but, with S tronic, consumes just 7.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (33.13 US mpg) on average (165 grams of CO2 per kilometer [265.54 g/mile]). Of course, the S3 Cabriolet also makes use of quattro permanent all-wheel drive – the perfect foundation for optimal traction and driving dynamics in all road conditions. Absolute lightweight construction and a high-performance chassis complete the profile of the Audi S3 Cabriolet, which is set to arrive in dealerships in Germany this summer.
From a visual standpoint alone, the Audi S3 Cabriolet cuts a sporty figure. It is 4.43 meters (14.53 ft) long, has a wheelbase of 2.60 meters (8.53 ft), and is 1.79 meters (5.87 ft) wide and 1.39 meters (4.56 ft) tall. The proportions are extended and balanced elegantly; precise lines and muscularly arched surfaces define the flanks.
The open-top four-seater has a soft top with an electrohydraulic drive. Magnesium, aluminum and high-strength steel keep its weight low. A highly insulating foam layer in the roof reduces the noise level in the interior. The top is available in three colors. It opens or closes in 18 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.07 mph). An active rollover system protects passengers in the event of an accident.
Many design details hint at the dynamic driving potential of the open-top four-seater. The Singleframe grille, surrounded by a chrome frame, features a platinum-gray insert and double cross-struts with an aluminum look. The air intakes are framed by powerful edges and filled with double ribs and honeycomb inserts. S3 badges adorn the front and rear. The 12 paint colors include the exclusive Panther Black, crystal effect and Sepang Blue, pearl effect.
Aluminum strips on the windshield frame and beltline, aluminum-look exterior mirror housings and edged sill trims define the sides. The taillights are equipped with LEDs as standard. The luggage compartment lid has a spoiler edge, and the bumper has been redesigned. An aluminum-look bar and four vertical ribs give shape to the platinum-gray diffuser, which frames the four tailpipes typical of Audi S models.
Star athlete: The 2.0 TFSI
The Audi S3 Cabriolet is powered by a top-of-the-line 2.0 TFSI, which delivers 221 kW (300 hp) between 5,500 rpm and 6,200 rpm and produces 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm. With S tronic the open-top four-seater accelerates to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 5.4 seconds. The top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph) is limited electronically. When empty (without the driver), the Audi S3 Cabriolet weighs just 1,620 kilograms (3,571.49 lb). The passenger compartment consists primarily of ultra-high-strength steel, and the hood is made of aluminum.
The turbocharged 2.0 TFSI, which displaces 1,984 cc (bore x stroke 82.5 x 92.8 millimeters), is a true sports engine. Heavy-duty aluminum pistons and higher-strength connecting rods transmit the forces to the crankshaft. The aluminum-silicon alloy used for the cylinder head combines high thermal stability and strength with minimal weight. Two balance shafts ensure supremely smooth running performance.
With its dynamic character, the four-cylinder offers up a fascinating driving experience. When the standard Audi drive select dynamic driving system is operating in dynamic mode, it has a heightened throttle response, and the engine revs up briefly when the S tronic shifts gears. The sound flaps in the exhaust system open as the load and rpms increase.
The turbocharger provides charging pressures of up to 1.2 bars, and a powerful intercooler greatly reduces the temperature of the compressed air. The so-called drumble (swirl and tumble) flaps direct incoming air in a targeted manner. The camshaft can be offset by 60 degrees relative to the crankshaft on the intake side and by 30 degrees on the exhaust side. In addition, the Audi valvelift system (AVS) regulates the valve lift in two stages.
In the NEDC cycle, the Audi S3 Cabriolet with S tronic requires just 7.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (33.13 US mpg) (165 grams of CO2 per kilometer [265.54 g/mile]). The technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform contribute to this impressive figure. Of particular interest here is the additional indirect injection into the intake manifold, which replaces the gasoline direct injection FSI in the part-load range, where it lowers fuel consumption and particulate emissions.
And the 2.0 TFSI is also at the leading edge in terms of thermal management. Two rotary valves combined in one module regulate the flow and temperature of the coolant. The exhaust manifold is integrated in the cylinder head where coolant is circulating; this solution reduces the temperature of the exhaust gases, which improves fuel economy at full load. An additional advantage is faster warming of the engine during cold starting. And the friction-lowering coating of the piston skirts, the rolling bearings in the balance shafts, the on-demand oil pump and the start-stop system all do their part to improve efficiency.
Lightning-fast: The drivetrain
In the standard six-speed S tronic transmission, the bottom gears are close-stepped for a sporty effect, whereas the long gear ratio of the top gear lowers rpms and therefore fuel consumption. The driver can operate the lightning-fast dual-clutch transmission in the automatic D and S modes or take control using the gearshift lever in the touch control gate or the optional paddles on the steering wheel.
An attractive efficiency function of the six-speed S tronic is the one-way clutch. It becomes active when Audi drive select is in efficiency mode and the driver steps off the accelerator. During a starting maneuver at full throttle from a standstill, Launch Control, another feature of the dual-clutch transmission, ensures that the power of the engine is transmitted to the road with a defined tire slip.
quattro – traction and dynamics
Typical of the S model line: Of course, the S3 Cabriolet also makes use of quattro permanent all-wheel drive – the perfect foundation for optimal traction and driving dynamics in all road conditions. Only Audi offers permanent all-wheel drive in a compact-class convertible car.
Its characteristic strength lies in the enhanced slip-free acceleration, driving dynamics, driving safety and directional stability that it delivers. The powerful compact car is dynamic and stable at any speed, even in difficult winter conditions. When exiting a corner, it securely transmits its power to the road, while its two-wheel-drive competitors have to struggle for grip.
The centerpiece of the quattro drive for the Audi models with transversely mounted engines is the redesigned electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch. The compact, robust clutch is located at the end of the prop shaft, in front of the rear axle differential, where it contributes to the balanced axle distribution despite its relatively low weight. Inside is a package of plates that rotate in an oil bath. The metal friction rings are arranged behind one another in pairs – one ring of each pair is rigidly meshed with the housing, which rotates with the prop shaft. The other ring is meshed with the output shaft to the rear axle differential.
In normal conditions, the clutch sends most of the engine's power to the front wheels. If traction decreases there, the clutch can transfer torque continuously to the rear axle by forcing the packages of plates together via controlled action.
Dynamics made by Audi: The chassis
The chassis with its eager, precise response and high stability brings the dynamic quality of the Audi S3 Cabriolet to perfection. The axle load distribution is superbly balanced at 56:44; the rear-inclined installation position of the engine contributes to this, as does the front axle situated far to the front. Both solutions are from the Group's modular transverse platform. The subframe and pivot bearing on the front suspension are made of aluminum, and a four-link structure is used for the rear axle.
Compared with the Audi A3 Cabriolet (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6 – 4,2 [39,2 – 56 US mpg]; combined CO2 emission in g/km: 140 – 110 [225,3 – 177 g/mile]), the body is 25 millimeters (0.98 in) lower due to the S sport suspension. With the standard progressive steering, the rack-and-pinion is designed such that the steering ratio becomes more direct with steering-wheel motion – thus sportiness and comfort complement each other perfectly. The electromechanical progressive steering, which adapts its assistance to the speed, enables various optional assistance systems.
As part of the standard specification, the Audi S3 Cabriolet is fitted with 225/40 R18 tires, on 8Jx18 aluminum wheels in five-parallel-spoke design with a machine-polished silver finish. To reduce weight, the wheels are made using an aluminum flow forming process. Audi also offers optional 18- or 19-inch wheels in various designs.
Measuring 340 millimeters (13.39 in) in diameter, the front brake discs are very large, with black – or optionally red – calipers emblazoned with S3 logos. The electromechanical parking brake is integrated into the rear brake system. The ESC electronic stabilization control manifests itself in a new stage of evolution. Before reaching the handling limits, a finely metered braking torque is applied unnoticeably to the inside front wheels. This improves the car's agility, thus complementing the work of the quattro drive.
The standard Audi drive select dynamic driving system controls the engine/transmission characteristics and steering assistance, as well as the S tronic. The driver can select comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency or individual mode. Audi drive select also incorporates the optional Audi magnetic ride damper control system.
Cool black: The interior
Draped completely in black, the interior of the S3 Cabriolet has a clean, elegant appearance. As with every Audi, its operation is easy and the finish is of superior quality. There is room for two adults in the rear, and the easy entry feature makes getting in easier. The 285 liter (10.06 cubic ft) luggage compartment can be expanded by folding down the rear seat backs; its volume is 245 liters (8.65 cubic ft) when the top is down.
Fine details emphasize the dynamic character of the open-top four-seater. The standard inlays are made of matt brushed aluminum, and many of the controls gleam in an aluminum look. The instrument dials are in S-specific dark gray metallic and the digits and needles are white. A three-dimensional S3 logo and a boost pressure indicator complete the tachometer. The color driver information system is standard; the power-retractable on-board monitor (standard with the MMI radio and above) powers up to display a special S3 screen.
The sport seats guide and support the body. The seat surfaces can be pulled out, and the backrests have embossed S3 logos. The upholstery is a mix of Pearl Nappa leather and fabric. Combinations of Alcantara and Pearl Nappa leather or Fine Nappa leather and Velvet leather are available as options. Contrasting stitching adds visual touches. Other alternatives include the S sport seats with integrated head restraints and shoulder panels with diamond stitching and the Audi design selection in parade red. A special color pigment on all leather trim prevents seats from heating up too much in the sun.
The standard package for the Audi S3 Cabriolet also includes a sport leather steering wheel with the S3 emblem. A leather multifunction sport steering wheel with a flat-bottomed rim is available on request, also with optional shift paddles. Other standard features are the pedals and footrests made from brushed stainless-steel. In combination with the optional convenience key, a red ring adorns the start-stop button. The aluminum door sills bear S3 logos. Other standard features include the anti-theft alarm, deluxe automatic air conditioning, Xenon plus headlights and the storage and luggage compartment package.
On a par with the full-size class: The options
The range of available options is also highly attractive and includes head-level heating in the front seats, LED headlights and the convenience key, to name just a few. MMI navigation plus with MMI touch and a high-resolution seven-inch monitor top the infotainment range. The supplementary Audi connect module delivers the brand's customized Internet services to the car using the fast LTE standard. The Bang & Olufsen Sound System ups the ante with 13 speakers.
The driver assistance systems include the standard rest recommendation as well as adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, park assist with selective display and the Audi pre sense safety system. Delivery of the S3 Cabriolet in Germany will commence in summer – for a base price of 48,500 euros.
The 2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro is rated to return 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Audi A3 2.0T packs 220 hp and a six-speed, dual-clutch transmission. While the fuel economy figures aren’t excellent, they are respectable in the category for an all-wheel drive model. The A3 is more fuel efficient than the A4 2.0T Quattro by four mpg, but is short of the Mercedes-Benz’s CLA 250 rating of 26 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The CLA 250 only powers the front wheels and will suffer a slight fuel mileage penalty when equipped with all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy figures for the other Audi A3 models have not yet been announced, but the 2.0T Quattro is the top powertrain being offered until the S3 hits the market. The Audi A3 can also be had with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 170 hp.
Engine: Turbo 2.0L I4
Power: 296 BHP / 280 LB-FT
Transmission: 6-Speed DCT
0-60 Time: 5.4 (0-62)
Top Speed: 155 MPH (limited)
Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight: 3,800 LBS (est.)
Cargo: 9.5-11.3 CU FT
MPG: 22 City / 36 HWY
Base Price: $44,000 (est.)
As-Tested Price: $50,000 (est.)
Drivers are either droptop people or they're not. As most usually aren't – at least as far as the willingness to buy one is concerned – all convertibles tend to remain strictly niche cars. Thus, automakers must ask a noticeably higher price for them.
The Audi S3 Cabriolet is about as niche as you can get in the open daylight of mainstream automaking. Of course, the S3 cab doesn't really need to sell in big volumes; it exists because it's an easy and not too costly bit of flair for the company. In the US, this model would probably base out at around $44,000 if it were to join our fleet, which is problematic, as I'll soon explore.
In what may be a sign that Audi is essentially okay with all this, it had me up to central Sweden to twist around on the snow and ice in the open S3. The grounds ended up offering precious little ice and snow, so I drove the two-door ragtop on dusty, thawing Scandinavian roads. This was a blessing really, since ice driving in a cabrio – even a Quattro one – doesn't really reveal much of anything about such a car in its typical day-to-day life.
Seeing the bandwidth the Volkswagen Group continues to get out of its 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine is impressive. (Witness the 420-horsepower TT Quattro Sport showcar from the recent Geneva Motor Show.) Here, we're at 296 brake horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
My white test car's optional interior color scheme employs hot red accents that are not only surprisingly cool looking, but also beautifully put together.
Appropriately, for the folks who typically buy a white four-passenger convertible with pretty silvery mirror housings, the only transmission available is a six-speed dual-clutch S-tronic. The slick-shifting gearbox has been made all the better by including Audi Drive Select (ADS) as a standard feature, with Efficiency, Comfort, Auto or Dynamic modes accessed via the MMI infotainment system.
The S sports exhaust offers good sound, and with ADS in Dynamic mode, its flaps are left open to increase the thrum of the four tailpipes.
Audi's default S sport suspension is also a standard feature, so the S3 Cabriolet looks the part, sitting a full inch lower than a standard A3. The stance over its standard 18-inch wheels and tires – Dunlop SP Winter Sport for late winter in Scandinavia – puts on a good show, though optional 19s would look nice on Sunset Boulevard.
Overall proportions are markedly better than those of its predecessor, yet to my eyes, this new model is still a little off due to its quite truncated front overhang and long rear overhang.
The S3's all-important cloth roof has a theatrical opening and closing action that takes 18 seconds by my watch. You can have it do the dance while rolling along at 31 miles per hour or less, but I enjoyed watching the convertible's action while stationary.
Versus other A3/S3 models, the cabrio adds some 450+ pounds in an effort to keep the wide-open configuration from flexing too much. That's quite a penalty, and the extra weight is felt in the car's half-second slower acceleration to 62 mph, which, at 5.4 seconds is still plenty quick for this stylish crowd.
Cranking the climate, activating the optional heat on the sport seats and wearing cozy clothes while going top down in cold weather is one of my favorite exercises, and the S3 is good fun in this mode, particularly after getting the driver-configurable ADS settings adjusted to Dynamic mode.
S3 Cabriolet deliveries start in Western Europe at the beginning of June. The possibility of Audi offering a no-cost switch to a six-speed manual is not out of the question according to my sources, but it would be no surprise if the company stuck to the S-tronic.
Regardless of how good this car is, asking over $40k for this car in the US would make it a tough sell, especially with the larger and more stylish (if less powerful) A5 Cabriolet starting at $44,500 and the smaller, more fashionable TT Roadster at $42,900. Of course, Audi seems newly committed to offering a full range of A3 models here – with diesel and plug-in electrics among them – so it's still possible it will add this S3 as its fourth convertible model in North America. However, we wouldn't bet on it.
You’re looking at the first photos of a prototype for the new generation of the Audi RS 3. The previous generation never made it to these shores but we suspect this one will because of Audi’s decision to launch more of its high-performance RS models in the U.S. market. Another reason is that Audi will need a rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG and upcoming BMW M2.
The prototype is for an RS 3 Sportback, based on the five-door A3 Sportback, but we suspect the car’s mechanical package will eventually be fitted in the A3 sedan. That mechanical package will likely consist of a turbocharged five-cylinder engine, quattro all-wheel drive and sports suspension.
We know this prototype is for an RS 3 because of the aggressive front bumper, uprated wheels and brakes, lowered suspension, and signature RS oval exhaust tips. According to the photographer, the car is also slightly wider than the stock A3 Sportback.
Power in the new RS 3 is expected to come from an uprated version of the turbocharged and direct-injected 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine found in the previous RS 3 as well as the TT RS. In its most potent form the engine delivers 360 horsepower and 343 pound-feet, but the boss of Audi’s quattro performance division, Stephan Reil, recently revealed that the engine has more potential.
At the same time, Audi has revealed a version of its 2.0-liter TFSI found in the 2015 S3 and 2016 TT that develops upwards of 420 horsepower, so it’s possible we may see the smaller engine fitted to the new RS 3 in order to boost its efficiency. The likely transmission will be a seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission.
Look for a debut of the new RS 3 Sportback later this year or early next. If built, an RS 3 sedan will most likely debut a year after the hatchback's arrival.
If you thought there was no room in the Audi range for an intermediate model slotting between the S3 and RS3, well may (or may not…) have been wrong.
Reportedly, the German automaker is pondering the introduction of an S3 Plus model that would purportedly bump the power figure up to 380PS (375 PS), so as not to affect the RS3, which under the same assumption, would make it safe to say is going to have over 400 hp.
This sounds like a personal mission on Audi’s part, thought up in order to beat Mercedes’ two-liter turbo in the horsepower per liter category. The news comes from Motoring, which does not name its source (that said, take the numbers mentioned with a few grains of salt), but claims that the same unit would also make its debut under the bonnet of the hottest of the next-gen Sciroccos and also the new TT (possibly in the TTS).
Whatever the case, a car with a two-liter engine and almost 400 hp will definitely be appreciated, especially in those countries where cars are taxed for cubic capacity and anything over that value is simply too expensive to make sense – the RS3’s larger five-cylinder unit voids the argument, so this is welcome.
If they surpass the A45 AMG, then perhaps this will prompt Mercedes to take it one step further too, and possibly make a Black Series version of their hot hatch.
The same engine mentioned here could also make its way under the bonnet of the speculated more extreme VW Golf R variant. Imagine how fast that could be given how quickly it accelerates with under 300 hp… See the video below for reference on that – acceleration run starts 30 seconds in.
If you're not a family guy, you really shouldn't want a lot more car than the all-new Audi S3 can offer. It has nearly 300 hp, all-wheel drive, a great interior and understated looks.
By understated, I mean somebody who isn’t really into cars will not see it as anything special. Even so, it’s by no means an unattractive package, but it’s not really for everyone, or at least not for those who want to stand out a bit through their choice of car.
Nevertheless, as XCAR found out on their review of the car, it still has a lot going for it, including great performance, though, Audi has an even more powerful RS model planned for the near future.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has ran the new 2015 Audi A3 sedan through its crash tests, and the small German car fared quite well.
In fact, it is the first Audi model to earn the 2014 Top Safety Pick Plus moniker, as it scored the highest possible rating in every single test. Even in the new small overlap test, where a car is crashed into a barrier at 40 mph with 25 percent of the front end, the A3 earned the best possible rating.
The only place where the Audi faltered was in the side impact test, where it scored two ‘acceptable’ ratings (the second highest rating) for torso and pelvis/leg injuries. The report says that during the side impact test, the dummy shows that “rib fractures plus a fracture of the pelvis would be possible in a crash of this severity.”
The optional front crash prevention system was also taken into account, and received an ‘advanced’ rating after successfully avoiding a crash in the Institute’s 12 mph test.