Audi A3

4 May, 2007 1:00am Sam Hardy

The lid is being lifted on Audi's A3. Auto Express has learned the firm will launch a Cabriolet version of its popular compact executive star next year

Going up against small prestige drop-tops such as BMW's forthcoming 1-Series Convertible and the next-generation MINI Convertible, the A3 Cabriolet will provide style-conscious sun-seekers with a more affordable option than the A4 Cabriolet.

Talking exclusively to Auto Express at the launch of the A5 coupé (driven in Issue 958), Claus Haverkamp, Head of Body Structure Development at Audi, revealed: "The next open-roof model in our plans is the A3 Cabriolet, which will go on sale in 2008."

The four-seater will feature an electric folding canvas roof - not a metal hood as used by Peugeot's 207 CC and BMW's 3-Series Convertible - and is likely to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next March. UK sales are set to start before the end of that year.

Power will come from the same FSI petrol and TDI diesel engines used by the A3 hatchback range. Entry-level models are likely to get a 1.6 FSI unit, with the line-up topped by a 3.2-litre V6. There's good news for performance fans, too. A flagship 2.0-litre turbocharged S3 drop-top will appear towards 2009, boasting the same quattro four-wheel-drive system as its hard-top brother. While it will cost in excess of £28,000, entry-level versions will start from around £18,500.

Meanwhile, Haverkamp also revealed that Audi has no plans to offer any folding metal-roof CC models in future - choosing to stay with canvas hoods for new cars such as the next-generation A4 Cabriolet, due to arrive in 2009.

"There are too many compromises needed with folding metal roofs," said Haverkamp. "They impact on styling and packaging and we know that we can get excellent refinement anyway with multi-layered fabric roofs."
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