Putting a high-velocity spin on the compact 2015 Audi A3 droptop that arrives here later this year, the Audi S3 Cabriolet makes its first public appearance at the Geneva Auto Show. Like other members of the automaker's "S" squad, the new S3 Cabrio complements unique cosmetic touches with a serous bump in horsepower and enhanced dynamics. While stating there are no current plans to bring this al fresco road rocket to America, Audi has confirmed the U.S.-bound 2015 S3 Sedan will use the same potent powertrain.
Centerpiece of the new S3 Cabriolet is the hottest version of Audi's 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder that makes 296 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque up from the 220/258 output figures of the standard 2.0T engine. It's backed by a 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission that includes Launch Control functionality to optimize off-the-line charges. Rounding out the driveline mix is the automaker's Quattro system that can instantly transfer torque between the front and rear wheels as traction conditions dictate. That combination allows the 3,572-pound S3 Cabriolet to sprint from 0-62 mph in 5.4 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph while returning 33.1 mpg on the admittedly less-demanding European combined fuel economy cycle.
Whether fitted with the standard conventional suspension or optional magnetic-ride-damper setup, the S3 Cabriolet's underpinnings benefit from a comprehensive makeover that enhances control and responsiveness while dropping the ride height nearly a full inch. The electronic stability control also gets revised as does the Audi drive select system that lets the driver modify throttle/transmission mapping and power-steering assist -- as well as the shock settings where applicable - into preset comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency or individual modes. Keeping it securely linked to the pavement, the S3 Cabriolet rides on 225/40 performance tires wrapped around unique 18-inch alloy wheels and offers a 19-inch upgrade option. Stopping power also gets upgraded courtesy of larger front brakes.
In addition to more aggressive lower front/rear fascia designs, the new Audi S3 convertible boasts a unique grille treatment, redrawn air intakes and chrome/aluminum trim accents set off with Xenon-plus headlamps - full LED units are optional -- and LED taillamps. Like the A3 Cabrio, the S3's fully-lined power activated soft top is wrapped around a lightweight magnesium frame and features an electro-hydraulic mechanism that raises or lowers in 18 seconds while the car is traveling at speeds up to 31 mph.
A study in basic black, the S3 Cabriolet's 4-passenger cabin features a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and S3-emblazoned aluminum door sills. Lucky Europeans seeking to add a bit more personality can opt for premium Nappa leather/Alcantara upholstery, deeply bolstered S sport buckets, a flat-bottom racing-style steering wheel, paddle shifters and supplemental head-level heating for the front seats as well as Audi's MMI Navigation Plus, a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system and Audi Connect in-car Internet.
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