2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet

David Gluckman
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2008 Audi A3 Cabriolet

In February of 2008, Audi will begin selling a convertible version of its A3 hatchback - in Germany. Don't expect to see an A3 Cabriolet in U.S. showrooms, at least not any time soon.

The new droptop is based on another A3 we don't get to enjoy here - the three-door hatch. Open-air A3s receive updated front- and rear-end treatments, including unique headlights and taillights. Expect these visual enhancements to make their way to the rest of the A3 lineup around the middle of 2008.

Unlike Volkswagen's small convertible offering - the Eos - Audi has chosen to go with a soft top to save weight and preserve space for four people inside, while maintaining a fastback coupe-like profile. The wider VW has a longer rear deck to accommodate its folding hard top.

In Europe, as always, engine choices are plentiful. A3 Cabriolet buyers will be able to choose from four different direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Gasoline options include a 1.8- or 2.0-liter TFSI, while 1.9- and 2.0-liter TDI engines will satisfy torque lovers. All engines get either a five- or six-speed manual as standard, with Audi's S tronic dual-clutch gearbox available on all but the smaller diesel.

The choices continue with the roof, which can be had as either semiautomatic or fully automatic with thermal and sound insulation. Both will fold and stow in nine seconds and feature a standard heated glass rear window.

We're disappointed that this new A3 model won't be coming here, because it looks like the VW Cabrio successor that the strangely proportioned Eos should have been.

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