From a visual standpoint alone, the Audi S3 Cabriolet cuts a sporty figure. It is 4.43 meters (14.53 ft) long, has a wheelbase of 2.60 meters (8.53 ft), and is 1.79 meters (5.87 ft) wide and 1.39 meters (4.56 ft) tall. The proportions are extended and balanced elegantly; precise lines and muscularly arched surfaces define the flanks.
The open-top four-seater has a soft top with an electrohydraulic drive. Magnesium, aluminum and high-strength steel keep its weight low. A highly insulating foam layer in the roof reduces the noise level in the interior. The top is available in three colors. It opens or closes in 18 seconds, even while driving at speeds up to 50 km/h (31.07 mph). An active rollover system protects passengers in the event of an accident.
Many design details hint at the dynamic driving potential of the open-top four-seater. The Singleframe grille, surrounded by a chrome frame, features a platinum-gray insert and double cross-struts with an aluminum look. The air intakes are framed by powerful edges and filled with double ribs and honeycomb inserts. S3 badges adorn the front and rear. The 12 paint colors include the exclusive Panther Black, crystal effect and Sepang Blue, pearl effect.
Aluminum strips on the windshield frame and beltline, aluminum-look exterior mirror housings and edged sill trims define the sides. The taillights are equipped with LEDs as standard. The luggage compartment lid has a spoiler edge, and the bumper has been redesigned. An aluminum-look bar and four vertical ribs give shape to the platinum-gray diffuser, which frames the four tailpipes typical of Audi S models.
Star athlete: The 2.0 TFSI
The Audi S3 Cabriolet is powered by a top-of-the-line 2.0 TFSI, which delivers 221 kW (300 hp) between 5,500 rpm and 6,200 rpm and produces 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) of torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm. With S tronic the open-top four-seater accelerates to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 5.4 seconds. The top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph) is limited electronically. When empty (without the driver), the Audi S3 Cabriolet weighs just 1,620 kilograms (3,571.49 lb). The passenger compartment consists primarily of ultra-high-strength steel, and the hood is made of aluminum.
The turbocharged 2.0 TFSI, which displaces 1,984 cc (bore x stroke 82.5 x 92.8 millimeters), is a true sports engine. Heavy-duty aluminum pistons and higher-strength connecting rods transmit the forces to the crankshaft. The aluminum-silicon alloy used for the cylinder head combines high thermal stability and strength with minimal weight. Two balance shafts ensure supremely smooth running performance.
With its dynamic character, the four-cylinder offers up a fascinating driving experience. When the standard Audi drive select dynamic driving system is operating in dynamic mode, it has a heightened throttle response, and the engine revs up briefly when the S tronic shifts gears. The sound flaps in the exhaust system open as the load and rpms increase.
The turbocharger provides charging pressures of up to 1.2 bars, and a powerful intercooler greatly reduces the temperature of the compressed air. The so-called drumble (swirl and tumble) flaps direct incoming air in a targeted manner. The camshaft can be offset by 60 degrees relative to the crankshaft on the intake side and by 30 degrees on the exhaust side. In addition, the Audi valvelift system (AVS) regulates the valve lift in two stages.
In the NEDC cycle, the Audi S3 Cabriolet with S tronic requires just 7.1 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (33.13 US mpg) (165 grams of CO2 per kilometer [265.54 g/mile]). The technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform contribute to this impressive figure. Of particular interest here is the additional indirect injection into the intake manifold, which replaces the gasoline direct injection FSI in the part-load range, where it lowers fuel consumption and particulate emissions.
And the 2.0 TFSI is also at the leading edge in terms of thermal management. Two rotary valves combined in one module regulate the flow and temperature of the coolant. The exhaust manifold is integrated in the cylinder head where coolant is circulating; this solution reduces the temperature of the exhaust gases, which improves fuel economy at full load. An additional advantage is faster warming of the engine during cold starting. And the friction-lowering coating of the piston skirts, the rolling bearings in the balance shafts, the on-demand oil pump and the start-stop system all do their part to improve efficiency.
Lightning-fast: The drivetrain
In the standard six-speed S tronic transmission, the bottom gears are close-stepped for a sporty effect, whereas the long gear ratio of the top gear lowers rpms and therefore fuel consumption. The driver can operate the lightning-fast dual-clutch transmission in the automatic D and S modes or take control using the gearshift lever in the touch control gate or the optional paddles on the steering wheel.
An attractive efficiency function of the six-speed S tronic is the one-way clutch. It becomes active when Audi drive select is in efficiency mode and the driver steps off the accelerator. During a starting maneuver at full throttle from a standstill, Launch Control, another feature of the dual-clutch transmission, ensures that the power of the engine is transmitted to the road with a defined tire slip.
quattro – traction and dynamics
Typical of the S model line: Of course, the S3 Cabriolet also makes use of quattro permanent all-wheel drive – the perfect foundation for optimal traction and driving dynamics in all road conditions. Only Audi offers permanent all-wheel drive in a compact-class convertible car.
Its characteristic strength lies in the enhanced slip-free acceleration, driving dynamics, driving safety and directional stability that it delivers. The powerful compact car is dynamic and stable at any speed, even in difficult winter conditions. When exiting a corner, it securely transmits its power to the road, while its two-wheel-drive competitors have to struggle for grip.
The centerpiece of the quattro drive for the Audi models with transversely mounted engines is the redesigned electronically controlled hydraulic multi-plate clutch. The compact, robust clutch is located at the end of the prop shaft, in front of the rear axle differential, where it contributes to the balanced axle distribution despite its relatively low weight. Inside is a package of plates that rotate in an oil bath. The metal friction rings are arranged behind one another in pairs – one ring of each pair is rigidly meshed with the housing, which rotates with the prop shaft. The other ring is meshed with the output shaft to the rear axle differential.
In normal conditions, the clutch sends most of the engine’s power to the front wheels. If traction decreases there, the clutch can transfer torque continuously to the rear axle by forcing the packages of plates together via controlled action.
Dynamics made by Audi: The chassis
The chassis with its eager, precise response and high stability brings the dynamic quality of the Audi S3 Cabriolet to perfection. The axle load distribution is superbly balanced at 56:44; the rear-inclined installation position of the engine contributes to this, as does the front axle situated far to the front. Both solutions are from the Group’s modular transverse platform. The subframe and pivot bearing on the front suspension are made of aluminum, and a four-link structure is used for the rear axle.
Compared with the Audi A3 Cabriolet (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6 – 4,2 [39,2 – 56 US mpg]; combined CO2 emission in g/km: 140 – 110 [225,3 – 177 g/mile]), the body is 25 millimeters (0.98 in) lower due to the S sport suspension. With the standard progressive steering, the rack-and-pinion is designed such that the steering ratio becomes more direct with steering-wheel motion – thus sportiness and comfort complement each other perfectly. The electromechanical progressive steering, which adapts its assistance to the speed, enables various optional assistance systems.
As part of the standard specification, the Audi S3 Cabriolet is fitted with 225/40 R18 tires, on 8Jx18 aluminum wheels in five-parallel-spoke design with a machine-polished silver finish. To reduce weight, the wheels are made using an aluminum flow forming process. Audi also offers optional 18- or 19-inch wheels in various designs.
Measuring 340 millimeters (13.39 in) in diameter, the front brake discs are very large, with black – or optionally red – calipers emblazoned with S3 logos. The electromechanical parking brake is integrated into the rear brake system. The ESC electronic stabilization control manifests itself in a new stage of evolution. Before reaching the handling limits, a finely metered braking torque is applied unnoticeably to the inside front wheels. This improves the car’s agility, thus complementing the work of the quattro drive.
The standard Audi drive select dynamic driving system controls the engine/transmission characteristics and steering assistance, as well as the S tronic. The driver can select comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency or individual mode. Audi drive select also incorporates the optional Audi magnetic ride damper control system.
Cool black: The interior
Draped completely in black, the interior of the S3 Cabriolet has a clean, elegant appearance. As with every Audi, its operation is easy and the finish is of superior quality. There is room for two adults in the rear, and the easy entry feature makes getting in easier. The 285 liter (10.06 cubic ft) luggage compartment can be expanded by folding down the rear seat backs; its volume is 245 liters (8.65 cubic ft) when the top is down. Fine details emphasize the dynamic character of the open-top four-seater. The standard inlays are made of matt brushed aluminum, and many of the controls gleam in an aluminum look. The instrument dials are in S-specific dark gray metallic and the digits and needles are white. A three-dimensional S3 logo and a boost pressure indicator complete the tachometer. The color driver information system is standard; the power-retractable on-board monitor (standard with the MMI radio and above) powers up to display a special S3 screen.
The sport seats guide and support the body. The seat surfaces can be pulled out, and the backrests have embossed S3 logos. The upholstery is a mix of Pearl Nappa leather and fabric. Combinations of Alcantara and Pearl Nappa leather or Fine Nappa leather and Velvet leather are available as options. Contrasting stitching adds visual touches. Other alternatives include the S sport seats with integrated head restraints and shoulder panels with diamond stitching and the Audi design selection in parade red. A special color pigment on all leather trim prevents seats from heating up too much in the sun.
The standard package for the Audi S3 Cabriolet also includes a sport leather steering wheel with the S3 emblem. A leather multifunction sport steering wheel with a flat-bottomed rim is available on request, also with optional shift paddles. Other standard features are the pedals and footrests made from brushed stainless-steel. In combination with the optional convenience key, a red ring adorns the start-stop button. The aluminum door sills bear S3 logos. Other standard features include the anti-theft alarm, deluxe automatic air conditioning, Xenon plus headlights and the storage and luggage compartment package.
On a par with the full-size class: The options
The range of available options is also highly attractive and includes head-level heating in the front seats, LED headlights and the convenience key, to name just a few. MMI navigation plus with MMI touch and a high-resolution seven-inch monitor top the infotainment range. The supplementary Audi connect module delivers the brand’s customized Internet services to the car using the fast LTE standard. The Bang & Olufsen Sound System ups the ante with 13 speakers.
The driver assistance systems include the standard rest recommendation as well as adaptive cruise control, Audi side assist, Audi active lane assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, park assist with selective display and the Audi pre sense safety system. Delivery of the S3 Cabriolet in Germany will commence in summer – for a base price of 48,500 euros.