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New Audi A3 Cabriolet
A compact touch of luxurious plein air

Audi A3 Cabriolet: front, static view.

Daytime running lights in integral light strip of 7 white LEDs.

3 December 2007.

In French, they call it plein air. It can refer to painting, playing, driving or whatever you wish to do or imagine yourself doing as long as you do it in... open air.

With a successful convertible cousin known as the Volkswagen Eos, why shouldn't Audi's A3 get its full rights to the plein air experience, especially that both are derived from the VW Golf platform?

Hence, here comes Audi's view of the compact, lower medium or C-segment convertible, on the premium side of the fence, where the most direct competitor is the... BMW 1 Series convertible.

Nevertheless, having a common Golf platform shouldn't necessarily mean that the Eos and A3 Cabriolet need to be too familiar with one another.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: back, driving shot.

All 4 engines are direct injection units with turbocharging.

So, while the Eos cousin comes with a five-section sliding hard top, the new Audi A3 Cabriolet opted for a soft roof, the classical way... just like the BMW 1 Series convertible.

The Audi A3 Cabriolet will be launched this spring (from February in Germany), with two petrol and two turbo diesel (TDI) engines. All of them are direct injection units with turbocharging and performance (engine details follow below) ranging from 77 kW (105 bhp) to 147 kW (200 bhp).

The soft top (more details) is available with three hood colours: black, blue and red, in semi-automatic or fully automatic versions which can be opened hydraulically in nine seconds.

Built at Audi Hungaria

The new Audi A3 Cabriolet is built at Audi Hungaria, a wholly owned subsidiary of Audi AG based in Győr. It already produces the Audi TT Coupé and TT Roadster - also based on the VW Golf platform - and supplies aluminium body parts for the Audi R8 supercar 

This year, over 50,000 vehicles should leave the production line in Győr, where maximum capacity is 300 vehicles per day (TT Coupé, Roadster and A3 Cabriolet combined).

Vehicle assembly started at Audi Hungaria in 1998 with the production of the Audi TT. Since then, more than 300,000 vehicles have been produced in Győr. The new generation of the Audi TT Coupé and TT Roadster has been assembled at Audi Hungaria since 2006.

Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. is one of the principal engine suppliers to the Audi and Volkswagen Groups. In 2006, the company built 1,893,600 engines and 23,675 vehicles.

Audi says that the body structure contains a high proportion of high-strength, ultra-high-strength and hot-formed steels, as well as a large number of reinforcing measures to provide maximum rigidity and crash safety.

Other features of the 4-passenger A3 Cabriolet include the electromechanical power steering, the four-link rear suspension, as well as an optional sports suspension.

Exterior - Measuring 4,238 millimetres in length, 1,765 mm in width and 1,424 mm in height (see the A3 Cabriolet dimensions), the Audi A3 Cabriolet looks compact and light. The face is dominated by the large single-frame grille, and the headlights can be supplied optionally with xenon plus lights, which can operate in tandem with the dynamic adaptive light technology. The "wing" – a chrome vapour-coated wing-shaped contour – has become a characteristic Audi element; its form varies depending on the type of headlight.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: dimensions.

The daytime running lights in the form of an integral light strip consist of seven white light-emitting diodes in conjunction with the xenon plus units. Similarly, the rear lights are of a flat, broad design. Their technology is based on fibre optic rods, but the visual effect is of two radiant rings.

From the side, the wheel arches accommodate large wheels: in the case of the Attraction equipment line, 16 inches in diameter. The Ambition version has 17-inch wheels made from cast aluminium. 18-inch wheels from quattro GmbH are available as an option.

Hood - To keep its shape, close fit and tightness, the hood gets a mechanically moved metal linkage, and a large, heated glass rear window.

The fabric top is available in two versions – the semi-automatic soft top and the fully automatic acoustic hood. In both cases the hood is moved by a high-pressure pump with two hydraulic cylinders. They open the soft top in nine seconds.

When lowered, the hood is folded up in a Z-pattern so that it takes up a minimum amount of space. The header comes to rest flush with the body. The folded hood is set down in a compact sheet steel compartment within the luggage compartment.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: top-down view.

The hood opens in 9 seconds, by a high-pressure pump.

The high-performance kinematics allow the acoustic hood to be opened and closed at speeds of up to 30 km/h, by a switch on the centre console, or from outside the car, via the ignition key in the door lock.

The acoustic hood of the fully automatic soft top comes with a synthetic fibre mat between the outer skin and the inner lining to further improve thermal insulation and soundproofing. Audi claims that a speed of 140 km/h, it is only 1 dB (A) louder inside the Audi A3 Cabriolet than in the A3. If only the front seats are occupied, a wind deflector can be positioned above the rear bench seat in a few steps from one side of the vehicle.

Inside, the rear seat backs are split 50:50 and can be released from the luggage compartment, increasing the luggage capacity to 674 litres and the load area length to 150 centimetres. In the standard arrangement, the luggage compartment has a capacity of 260 litres, whether the hood is open or closed.

The windscreen is as upright as on the A3 with permanent roof. Because the folded hood occupies little space, it has not been necessary to move the rear bench seat further forward, leaving more legroom at the rear, thanks in part to the 2,578-millimetre wheelbase.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: side view, open roof.

The header comes to rest flush with the body.

Engines - The A3 Cabriolet is launched with four engine versions, two petrol (TFSI) and two diesel (TDI) ones. All of them have four cylinders, turbocharging and direct injection.

- 1.9 TDI: From 1,896 cm3, the 1.9 TDI generates an output of 77 kW (105 bhp) and 250 Nm of torque at just 1,900 rpm. It takes 12.3 seconds to pass the 100 km/h mark, and the top speed is 185 km/h. It burns just 5.1 litres of fuel per 100 km, and is available with a five-speed manual gearbox.

- 2.0 TDI: The new 2.0 TDI with its displacement of 1968 cm3, is equipped with four-valve per cylinder (2-valves/cylinder in the 1.9 TDI), two balancing shafts and a newly developed common rail system. Its turbocharger has variable geometry for greater responsiveness. It develops 103 kW (140 bhp) and generates 320 Nm of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, accelerating the A3 Cabriolet from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 204 km/h. It makes the 100 kilometres on an average of 5.3 litres of fuel and its emissions undercut the limits of the future Euro 5 standard. It is optionally available with the S tronic transmission instead of the manual six-speed gearbox.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: inside, dashboard and seats view.

Head/thorax side airbags are integrated into the backs of the front seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the integrated head restraint system cushions the head and upper body.

- 1.8 TFSI: The newly developed 1.8 TFSI (a very close relation of the 2.0 TFSI) produces 118 kW (160 bhp) and 250 Nm, the latter across an engine-speed range of 1,500 to 4,200 rpm. An adjustable intake camshaft optimises filling of its combustion chambers, with two balancing shafts to enhance its refinement. With its six-speed manual gearbox, the A3 Cabriolet 1.8 TFSI accelerates to 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds and on to 218 km/h; it accomplishes the EU driving cycle on an average of 7.3 litres per 100 km. It is also optionally available with the S tronic transmission.

- 2.0 TFSI: the two-litre version generates 280 Nm of torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm, and between 5,100 and 6,000 rpm it develops 147 kW (200 bhp). The 2.0 TFSI likewise operates with an adjustable intake camshaft and two balancing shafts, and its compression ratio of 10.5:1 guarantees high thermodynamic efficiency. With the S tronic dual-clutch gearbox that is available alongside the six-speed manual gearbox, the A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TFSI sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds; its top speed is 231 km/h. It uses on average 7.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: dashboard and front seats view.

The windscreen is as upright as on the A3 with permanent roof.

S tronic - All Audi A3 Cabriolet versions are launched with front wheel drive. The engine versions from the 103 kW (140 bhp) upwards are fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard. The S tronic combines the advantages of both automatic and manual transmission. At high loads and engine speeds, it shifts between its six gears in just 0.2 seconds without palpably interrupting the power flow.

The driver can operate the S tronic by means of the one-touch lever or using the shift paddles on the steering wheel. There are furthermore two fully automatic modes available, D for Drive (standard) and S for Sport. Audi says that the S tronic operates highly efficiently and its electronic management in the automatic mode ensures that the engine runs as economically as possible at low engine speeds.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: back view with closed top.

The soft top is available with 3 colours, semi or fully automatic.

Suspension and steering - A classic layout was adopted for the front suspension – a McPherson design with triangulated lower wishbones. The subframe on which the structure is mounted is made from aluminium, and is bolted to the body to improve rigidity.

The four-link rear suspension also gets a subframe connected to the body, with compact coil springs and dampers for vertical support.

The rack-and-pinion steering is electromechanically power assisted with speed-dependent control. The system does not use energy when the car is driving in a straight line, saving according to Audi figures 0.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on average.

For the Ambition equipment line, the A3 Cabriolet is available optionally with sports suspension that lowers the body by 15 mm. The Attraction line comes with 16-inch wheels with size 205/55 tyres. On the Ambition, 17-inch aluminium wheels with size 225/45 tyres are standard. Audi can also supply four other wheel versions as options, as well as a tyre pressure monitoring system.

The brake system gets ventilated front discs (solid discs at the rear), with ABS (anti-lock braking system), hydraulic brake assist (BA), EBD (electronic brake-force distribution) and ESP (electronic stability program).

Body - 45 percent of the bodyshell is made from high-strength steels, while nine percent consists of ultra-high-strength steels, combining low weight with rigidity. The roof frame and roll-over bar incorporate hot-formed steels for safety.

Reinforcing profiles are integrated into the side sills and vehicle floor. V-pattern steel profiles additionally reinforce the forward structure and rear end, and there is a capsule with another reinforcing frame beneath the engine compartment. There are high-strength panels in the B-posts.

Audi A3 Cabriolet: detailed view of the tail light.

Rear lights are of a flat, broad design, with fibre optic rods.

A box-shaped structure made from high-strength sheet steel separates the passenger compartment from the luggage compartment. Head/thorax side airbags are integrated into the backs of the front seats. In the event of a rear-end collision, the integrated head restraint system (opposite photo) cushions the head and upper body.

Equipment - The Attraction line of the A3 Cabriolet comes standard with a semi-automatic hood, four electric windows and the daytime running lights.

The sporty Ambition line gets 17-inch aluminium wheels, front fog lights and sports suspension. Inside, its equipment includes sports seats, a driver information system, a leather sports steering wheel, a wind deflector and special inlays, upholstery and door sill trims.

Options include multifunction steering wheels, automatic air conditioning, leather upholstery, heated seats, a parking aid, xenon plus headlights, adaptive light for cornering, storage package for the interior and luggage compartment, a ski and snowboard bag and a tyre pressure monitoring system.

The multimedia options extend from the chorus CD radio, with four speakers, to the Bose sound system. All audio systems from the concert radio upwards include an interface on the centre tunnel for connecting up an iPod or MP3 player. Two navigation systems are available, with monochrome or large colour monitor. For mobile telephony, Audi offers a mobile phone preparation in combination with the audio systems.

The A3 Cabriolet will be available in 15 paint colours. An S line exterior package and S line sports package will also be available from quattro GmbH.

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