6 Nov 2014

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet Review

Colin Hubbard reviews the 2014 Audi S3 cabriolet

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet
2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

Speedmonkey has driven both the S3 saloon and A3 cabriolet but now Audi has combined the S3 engine and chassis with the S3 cabriolet body to create the S3 cabriolet.

Power comes from the same 296bhp 280lb/ft 2 litre turbocharged 4 as featured in the S3 and Golf R and doesn't fail to impress in this application.

Drive is via a 6 speed twin-clutch gearbox mainly to the front wheels with a Haldex rear diff feeding in power when required. An electronic pseudo limited slip diff brakes individual wheels as and when called for to keep the car in a straight line so forward motion is progressive, not pointlessly spun away.

The suspension has been uprated to cope with the additional power and features Audi's renowned magnetic dampers along with 25mm lower springs.

The chassis is finished off with 19 inch twin-spoke star design alloys finished in two tone anthracite and polished alloy with 235/35 Continental tyres.

Visually the A3 Cabriolet body is already a good looking car with a long, almost saloon style bootlid but it gets more presence in S3 guise. Changes include a deeper front bumper with larger air ducts with the depth continuing down the side with sharp side skirts and extended rear bumper. At the back end a rear diffuser adds some muscle aided by a pair of chrome oval tailpipes either side.

There's plenty of body bling with double chrome bars on the front grille, rather menacing LED headlights, signature S3 aluminium look mirrors and led rear lights.

The fog lights have been removed from the front bumper and replaced with air intake ducts.

Finished off in Sepang Blue pearl effect paint the S3 is one of the most attractive convertibles on the market.
2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

On the inside the cabin is trimmed in Nappa leather with silver stitching with little to give away sporting pretentions other than a pair of sports seats with S3 embossing and a fat rimmed, flat bottomed steering wheel.

The front seats are fine for adults, hood up or down, as you would expect but the rear seats are a little cramped for adults. Short journeys would be fine if the front seats are moved forward sufficiently but long journeys four up would be uncomfortable after a while.

In the driving seat and all feels very 'Audi', meaning very clean, tidy design in a well trimmed thought out package but not overtly sporty.

The engine ticks over quietly at idle. You'd be fooled into thinking this is a lowly 1.6.

On the go the ride is surprising compliant and, I suspect, aimed at families who want a kiddy chariot for the school run but with the ability to drive like their hair's on fire on the way home.

Given it's not such a harsh ride and combined with quattro drive it grips surprisingly well on country roads whilst bumps and undulations in the road simply do not phase it - it remains planted and stable. You can press on without fear of bouncing around so it only takes a few miles to get an enormous feeling of confidence in the car.

Just as in the Golf R the engine is a cracker, it needs a healthy dose of revs to really get going but when there it's fairly relentless, noticeably more so in dynamic mode when the twin clutch gearbox holds onto lower gears longer to keep you in the optimum rev range for instance acceleration.

The main central screen lets you select from the drive functions offering individual, efficient, comfort, auto and dynamic modes. I tried them all, efficient was extremely slow witted to react to the throttle and changed up at 2,000 rpm so I kept it in dynamic for the rest of my time with the car and found it spot on for my driving style.

At easy throttle settings there is just a deep cough from the back end but as you get more confident and use more revs the exhaust flaps open and it lets you know this is no feeble powered 4 pot.
2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet
2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

With the roof down your ears are treated to the full turbo range of 'voices', from the down-change throttle blips to the urgent full-throttle gear changes as the fuel supply is cut as the next gear is selected.

Turbo lag is present but controlled, from 1,000 to 2,000rpm there's not much punch but stick with it and get up past 3,500rpm and then it really goes with more than the kick of an early Escort Cosworth.

The brakes work well providing a nice firm pedal feel and good stopping power despite the extra weight over the standard hatch.

While it is a four wheel drive car I did note some front wheel squabble when exiting junctions while the rear takes a millisecond to catch up. Maybe in the next generation Haldex it will automatically feed power to all 4 wheels when the steering wheel isn't straight.

Talking of steering it is electrically assisted and feels a little remote at times through the lovely fat steering wheel. Yes it's accurate enough to judge the position of the car inch perfectly but they could take note from VW as the Golf R's steering is pretty much perfect.

The cabriolet roof is well engineered so it's nice and quiet when up and when down it makes for a great looking car with just a small loss to boot space. There is some chassis flex evidenced through the steering wheel and scuttle shake visible is evidenced in the rear view mirror but I haven't driven another cabriolet that hasn't suffered with flex. Considering it's a 4 seater it's really quite good as the distance the hood has to travel is much greater than in a 2 seater.

In the front and there's very little buffeting, no doubt aided by the wind deflector which is located over the rear seat, but take a seat in the back (with the wind deflector moved to the boot) for any period of time and you will exit the car with hair like Worzel Gummidge.

Overall it's a quality product with very lively performance, great handling and jaw dropping looks.

There is little in the way of competition for the S3 on the market at present. Vauxhall's Cascada and VW's Golf Cabriolet and EOS don't get close to the S3's performance leaving the closest real rival as the BMW 435i convertible which starts at £45k, some £7k more than the S3.

The S3 cabriolet is a unique, fast and enjoyable way to enjoy the sun with your friends.


Price - £38,085 (as tested £43,465)
Engine – 2.0 litre, inline-4, turbocharged, petrol
Transmission - 6-speed twin clutch auto
Drive – 4 wheel drive Quattro with electronic diff lock
0-62mph – 5.4 seconds
Top speed - 155 mph (limited)
Power – 296 bhp
Torque – 280 lb ft
Economy – 39.8mpg (combined)
CO2 - 206 g/km
Kerb weight – 1,666 kg
2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet

2014 Audi S3 Cabriolet