Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Audi Leaves Its Power Behind to Go Green

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Audi Leaves Its Power Behind to Go Green

Article excerpt

Byline: John Scantlebury

IT was, perhaps, not the best of days to check out a cabriolet. Opportunities for getting the roof down were dictated by the very infrequent and fleeting dry intervals, and even then the stormy winds didn't exactly encourage open-top motoring.

However, it was enough for the A3 to make a good impression. The electronic roof operation in the S-line is, in fact, one of the niftiest around, taking a mere nine seconds from button-press to stowage completion, the return requiring just two seconds more, and all possible at speeds of up to 19mph.

This is not one of the new-fangled shifting hard-tops but a canvas roof, which reduces the technical challenges of folding it away, and here it Z-patterns neatly into its own compartment, thus avoiding the somewhat ugly, bulging backsides of coupe-cabrios and also leaving boot space unscathed at a useful 235 litres (with 674 available if you fold down the two rear seats). Neither has the system eaten into the passenger area, and rear-seat passengers have plenty of leg room.

Have the roof in place and there are more plus points. Extensive insulation in the canvas means very impressive sound-proofing, the equal of most orthodox quality cars, while the compact togetherness of the A3 Cabriolet is testament to its rigid build. The specialised reinforcements mean there is no trace of scuttle here.

The only problem is a familiar one in this style of car, and that is poor corner visibility over the shoulder and a rear mirror view that is obstructed by the roll-over hoops. So reversing requires special attention and rear sensors should really be standard, not the pay-for option that they are.

The S-line trim delivers its own lowered suspension set-up and one expects to be bumped around a bit, but in fact the A3 Cabriolet rides with more suppleness than you normally expect from a sporty Audi. What you get is comfort allied to loads of control, the rainbow's end of every car designer.

The two-door A3 looks good, too. Not only is the backside athletic, as I have already mentioned, but S-line trim delivers its own exterior special features and the car poses with some promise of action. …

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