Last April, Audi introduced their spritely A3 sedan aimed squarely at the millennial generation and since then, sales have been off to a great start. That may have a lot to do with the A3’s $29,900 starting price tag and the fact that as an affordable entry into the Audi brand, the A3 never comes across as an inexpensive version of a premium product — it is a premium product. When we tested and reviewed the A3 back in March we were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked the car.
“A3 sales momentum has maintained a steady pace since its debut in April,” Audi communication manager Andrew Lipman tells us. “In September, 2,340 A3 vehicles were sold, making the model among the top three of the brand’s best sellers. We expect the S3 and A3 TDI variants to continue the trend.”
Never ones to rest on their laurels, Audi just release two new variations on the A3 theme; the swell looking A3 Cabriolet and the kick-ass and fun to drive S3 sedan.
The Gentleman Journalist just loves a ragtop and, really, there is nothing more luxurious than to drop the top on a cold day (well, cold by L.A. standards), crank up the heat to 80 and cruise down a palm tree lined Los Angeles street. It’s the stuff of movies, or dreams or somewhere between the two. The A3 Cabriolet is quite up to the task and comes chock-a-block full of some really nice touches like leather seats, an insulated soft top that opens and closes in 18 seconds while driving at speeds up to 31 m.p.h. (perfect for driving by the ocean just as the fog rolls in) and an active rollover system; you know, just in case. We drove the upmarket 220 horsepower 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder model and it was pretty great. It’s smaller and more fun to drive than the A5 Cabriolet and, truth be told, we put the littlest Gentlemen Journalist in the back in her babyseat and there was more than enough room.
While a ragtop may not appeal to everyone, the S3 sure would. Audi has a long tradition of putting out super-duper versions of their cars, calling them S or RS models, hence, the A3 transmogrifying into the S3. The S3 has speed to burn with a 292 horsepower, 2.0-liter TFSI engine under the hood, which Audi says is capable of 0-60 in of 4.7 seconds. The S3 also looks awfully mean, with a unique S-model exterior kit and a set of the optional 19- inch wheels.
The S3 drives great too and I had a chance to take the car on Mulholland one early morning, no traffic, just me and the car and a nice ribbon of road. Where the A3 is a nice daily driver and great commuter car, the S3 is tons of fun to drive. Could be all the extra power or the sport suspension or the Audi Drive Select feature that lets the driver choose from multiple driving modes — auto to dynamic to comfort or an individual mode so you can match the drive to your personal driving style — but the S3, with its $41,100 starting price is a whole lotta car.
For both models, Audi is really pushing the tech angle with optional 4G LTE connectivity and Google Earth and Maps integration on their MMI Navigation system. Tech seems to be the new buzzword in the automotive industry, which is seeing the under 30 age group more enticed by phones and tablets and apps than cars. Maybe the 292 horsepower in the S3 will change their minds.