Audi S3 Cabriolet review

17 Mar, 2014 9:30am Tom Phillips

Why 296bhp 4WD Audi S3 Cabriolet is summer’s hottest soft-top

Verdict

4
The Audi S3 Cabriolet is a logical extension of the range. But as it’s heavier and auto-only, it has a laid-back character of its own. It’s pricey, but if you’re looking for comfort and speed, rather than sharp responses, this car’s style, equipment and performance will be enough to give the new BMW 4 Series drop-top plenty to think about.

The A3 three-door, Sportback and Saloon have all benefited from the Audi ‘S’ treatment, so it’ll come as no surprise that, from next month, you’ll be able to order an Audi S3 Cabriolet, too.

It’s the first time that Audi has offered an S3 drop-top, and it’s fair to say that despite the sporting pretensions, this car is intended as a quick cruiser with space for four, rather than one to really satisfy a keen driver on a solo blast. 

For a start, it’s only available with the six-speed twin-clutch auto. Once up and running, the box does a fairly good job of flicking between ratios as and when you want it to, but it’s just never all that smooth from a standstill. 

In the Cabriolet, the extra weight you carry over the hard-top S3s is more noticeable when you accelerate off the line, too, making the gearbox feel like it’s holding the car back even more. 

That added weight also gives the engine more to do. The cabrio feels much less responsive than the hardtop S3 and, when it’s worked hard, the engine starts to sound a bit too strained, especially if you have the Drive Select system set to Dynamic mode, which pipes more noise into the car. It’s still quick, although it’s better to use the power to take the stress out of cruising, rather than trying to hustle the cabrio up a winding road.


Audi S3 Cabriolet 2014 rear action

If you do the latter, you will also notice the extra wobble in the chassis, particularly as the rear view mirror shakes a lot over bumps – a sure sign of flex. Even so, with the top up, the S3 does feel pretty solid over bumps in the road, although the suspension is really a bit too soft to have much fun.

But stick the top down and this new Audi is much happier. Cruising along it’s not too breezy, and the ride is really comfortable. Plus, if you do get the chance to put your foot down, its engine’s growl and the chirrup from the exhaust when you change gear are enough to remind you that this is an S model – even if it’s not the sharpest S Audi has ever built.

Key specs

  • Price: £39,000 (est)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power: 296bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 39.8mpg/165g/km
  • On sale: April 2014
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