The all-new 2008 A3 Cabriolet is now available to antipodean motorists, with prices for the stylish drop-top starting at $49,900.
Two engines are available in the A3 Cabriolet, with a 118kW, 250Nm 1.8-litre TFSI (Audi-speak for 'turbocharged and direct-injected') inline four being the base engine and a 147kw, 280Nm 2-litre TFSI four powering upper-spec models.
Both engines use a respectably thrifty 7.6 litres per 100km thanks to their small capacity and direct fuel injection, while their turbochargers provide a handy boost (ha ha) in performance. The 1.8 is capable of running from nought to 100kph in 8 seconds while the 2-litre will do the same in 7.3 seconds - not blisteringly quick, but certainly not slow either.
The 2.0 TFSI also gets sports suspension and the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, however if you can spare the coin we'd recommend speccing up to the six-speed, paddle-shifted S tronic dual-clutch gearbox, which delivers lightning-fast shifts and superior fuel economy to the manual. The 1.8 TFSI gets the S tronic as standard fitment.
However, we sincerely doubt that the majority of A3 Cabriolet buyers really give a hoot about engine specs or 0-100 times - what's most important to them is that collapsible soft-top. Peculiarly for a premium brand like Audi, the retraction mechanism on the standard roof is semi-automatic and requires a central clasp to be undone before the motors whirr into life. There is, however, a fully automatic roof available as an option that takes care of this little task for you that also packs an extra layer of sound insulation into the roof fabric.
Whether up or down, the A3 Cabriolet's roof doesn't eat into luggage space, which at 260 litres with the seats up and 674 litres with the rear seats down happens to be the largest in its class. The deletion of the A3's steel roof hasn't compromised body rigidity either, as Audi conducted a ground-up redesign of the A3's chassis specifically for the Cabriolet version to ensure scuttle shake wouldn't rear its ugly head.
Both models also feature a number of electronic safety aids as standard, with an electronic stability program, electronic diff lock, ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist working to keep drivers out of trouble while a full complement of front and side airbags help minimise any damage should drivers somehow find themselves in a tight spot. The reinforced body also adds an extra layer of protection for passengers, and the rear seats also feature a pair of roll bars should the Cabriolet go belly-up.
The 2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet is now available from Audi dealers nationwide, with the 1.8 TFSI Attraction starting at $49,900 and the manual-equipped 2.0 TFSI Ambition retailing for $54,900. Ticking the box for the S tronic cog-swapper will add an extra $2600 to the 2.0 TFSI's cost, bringing it to a grand total of $57,500.