Audi S3 Cabriolet is the Hot Convertible We Need Now
Audi A3 Cabriolet pictured
For whatever reason, I’ve never really liked the Audi A4 (now A5) Cabriolet. It has always been a little too expensive, a little too heavy, a little too boring. From a styling standpoint, the lesser Audis suffer from the level of anonymity normally reserved for Toyota’s sedans. In all honesty, the A4/5 Cab has always seemed like the second coming of the now-defunct Solara, the coupe and convertible variant of the Camry. Putting it through a copier and hitting 85% for the A3 version seems like more of the same, a shallow attempt at bolstering the coffers at the behest of Audi’s sales managers. But for Audi, the redesigned A3 has to be a sales success for Volkswagen’s premium brand as it actively courts new buyers on the low end of its model range. For that reason, Audi has sunk a lot of money into redesigning the Golf-based A3, which has historically been a relatively light seller here in the States. In other markets, the A3 is already on sale in 3- and 5-door hatchback configurations, as well as a 4-door sedan. The sedan is confirmed for a US release in the nebulous “near future,” but it is actually the convertible that has me the most excited. Why would my ears perk up at the announcement of a four-ringed midlife crisismobile?
Because a performance version is coming as well. How do specs of a 300hp Quattro convertible weighing less than 3,000lbs sound? I thought so.
Audi is officially unveiling the A3 Cabriolet in Frankfurt this week, but a wee little blurb on that car’s press release gives the preliminary specs for a planned S3 Cab. The curb weight given is a nice, even 3,000lbs, although that is guaranteed to change a bit before the final S3 numbers are revealed. Volkswagen’s bulletproof 2.0L turbo makes another appearance here, but this one seems to be shared with the 2015 Golf R. Both cars produce about the same horsepower, while expected torque output is the same 280 lb-ft as well. Equipped with the six-speed DSG transmission, the S3 Cabriolet bolts from 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds, a full half-second more than the hot Golf. Convertibles in general weigh more than their hardtop brethren, and the S3 Cab is no exception. The 3-door A3 weighs roughly 2,700lbs, so the S3 Cab, with all its extra mechanicals and likely heavier engine brings the weight gain to 300. Still, that makes the leather-encrusted, AWD cruiser only 500lbs more than a Mazda Miata, and a full half ton less than the A6 Cab.
Now for the bad news: the S3 Cab is not yet confirmed for the States. Considering Audi’s full fledged-attack for younger buyers, however, it seems unwise not to bring the S3 over in some fashion to allow the public to buy a more grown-up Golf R. Young professionals caught between wanting something sporty but needing to keep up a mature appearance have options, but most are expensive and outfitted with spoilers and intakes galore. West Coasters yearning for that drive up the California coastline could certainly do a whole lot worse than the S3 Cabriolet.
Photos courtesy of Audi