Other car reviews by

Michael Woodhouse

Audi A3 Cabriolet

There’s something about a soft-top car that means no matter what the weather is like, you’re admitting defeat if you keep the lid on and the elements outside. But I’m not one to admit defeat.

You’d imagine that the best place to show the motoring media your latest convertible would be somewhere sunny. Not Audi. It decided that the best place to show off its 300PS/380 Nm performance cabriolet was Sweden at the tail end of the skiiing season.

It did tie in with the launch of the small and gritty all-wheel drive S1, but even so, Scandinavia is not where this car is going to spend most of its time.

But the location actually showed the ease and comfort that people will be able to enjoy what could potentially be £40,000 with all the options they are likely to tick.

Roof down even on a chilly morning in Sweden’s great outdoors and from the cockpit you’re warm and snug. Air-conditioning pumping out warmth, heated seats and vents in the back of the seat blowing more heat onto the back of your neck. Toasty.

And should the worst happen, which is highly likely in the UK at any rate, and the heavens open, the roof can be raised in 18 seconds - even when you’re moving, as long as you keep the speed below 31mph. There is one drawback. You’re unlikely to be doing that speed very often because the engine that hides beneath the bonnet is incredibly eager to continue any journey you make at some speed of knots.

The Audi S3 Cabriolet is powered by a 2.0 TFSI which delivers its 300PS between 5,500 rpm and 6,200 rpm and produces 380Nm of torque from 1,800 to 5,500 rpm. With the six-speed automatic gearbox the open top four seater accelerates to 62mph in 5.4 seconds. The top speed is limited electronically to 155mph.

On the ice of Sweden’s roads that could be lethal, but thankfully Audi has always opted to give its performance S models all-wheel drive. There might be a lot of debate among car lovers as to the benefits of a rear-wheel drive car, but when you’re delivering so much power, it gives you far greater assurance to know that all four wheels are sharing the strain.

That reassurance makes the cabin a far more relaxing place, both as a driver and as a passenger. Inside is draped completely in black, and has a clean, elegant appearance.

There is room for two adults in the rear - but if I’m honest I wouldn’t want to spend too much time there - and the front seats feature an easy entry feature for convenient access to the rear seats. The 285 litre luggage compartment can be expanded by folding the rear seat backs. As with every drop top its volume is less with the roof down, falling to 245 litres.

Many of the controls gleam in an aluminium look, which is great until the sun hits them. A three-dimensional S3 logo and a boos pressure indicator complete the tachometer held in the instrument cluster - a boost meter is fun, but doesn’t really add anything for the average owner.

The S sports seats support the body, and actually work. I’ve long suffered from back pain on long drives in nearly every vehicle I’ve driven, but this is one of the few where I remained comfortable.

A leather multi-function sport steering wheel is standard with a flat-bottomed rim and shift paddles. It feels chunky to the touch and gives you a strong connection with the vehicle, and once you’re used to shifting gears using the paddles you become less likely to leave the S3 in automatic mode. A performance car is made to be driven and increase engagement. And with the roof down and the blowers on the S3 is a car full of engagement. Whether you’re in Sweden or Sevenoaks.

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