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Taps aff fun in fab A3 Cabrio 

IT’S not such a big deal when the sky is blue and the sun is shining brightly in Tenerife as that’s the norm for the island, especially in the south as I’ve discovered on visits.

But if you live in Scotland you make the most of these days.

And one big shout you tend to hear on these occasions is – TAPS AFF!

We can’t wait to go topless to let the hot rays hit our bodies and that’s the same when it comes to convertibles.

Despite the gloomy weather, UK motorists love cabriolets with much more sales here than in most other European countries that enjoy many more bright days.

So the arrival of my test car – an Audi A3 Cabriolet – was perfect timing as Scotland was treated to some wonderful sunshine and blue skies recently.

I tend to be writing about how models like this perform with the roof up only but not on this occasion.

The new A3 Cabriolet was launched in the UK in April and is a real beauty.

It shares the same platform as the A3 Saloon – voted 2014 World Car of the Year – so you can imagine just how good this model is.

Test car was a stunning glacier white-coloured 1.4 TFSI Sport that was fab inside and out.

Its sleek, sporty exterior looks are matched inside by a typically high-quality Audi cabin.

One of my first tasks was lowering the roof – an easy one as with the touch of a button it folds fully into the boot in 18 seconds.

The roof can also be opened or closed at speeds of up to 31mph so if the rain does come on you don’t even have to stop.

Audi says there is more room for back-seat passengers but even two large children would struggle to squeeze in with any sort of comfort.

That wasn’t a problem for me and I would imagine buyers of this model aren’t looking to use it as a full-size family car.

The boot space was still adequate to cope with the luggage we required for a couple of overnights.

So with the bags packed away and the wind deflector fitted behind the rear seats we hit the road.

I always enjoy open-air driving, even if there’s the need to wrap up with scarf and a tight-fitting bunnet, but my wife Jackie doesn’t appreciate the wind battering into her face too much.

So, not hearing any complaints from the passenger seat direction was an indication of how little wind comes into this cabrio even at motorway speeds and how comfortable the car is.

The 138bhp petrol engine is the least powerful in the model’s range but it was nippy enough with a standstill to 62mph time of 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 135mph.

The power comes through a super-slick six-speed manual gearbox and an extra urban fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg is possible – 46.3pmg urban and 56.5mpg combined.

These figures are achieved with the benefit of cylinder-on-demand technology which deactivates two of the engine’s cylinders when they are not necessary and the stop/start engine system.

It performed ever so quietly as we cruised along the motorway and wasn’t short of punch as I moved through the gears on country roads where handling and ride didn’t disappoint either.

We, sorry the car, got lots of admiring looks as we arrived at our hotel destination where I touched the roof button and the top, rather elegantly, appeared from the boot and closed tight.

The weather played its part in this test drive as the clouds gathered on the morning of our departure and brought heavy rain.

The A3 Cabriolet looks pretty cool with its top on as well and it also keeps road noise to a minimum.

There are three cabrio specs available and a soft, hard-wearing fabric roof is standard on SE models with Sport and S line getting a more sound-absorbent acoustic soft top with three-layer inner padding.

The return journey wasn’t such a fun drive but with the top up we were able to enjoy the excellent sound system much more.

With on-the-road prices starting at £25,790, I reckon you get a super cabriolet for your money.

Standard equipment at entry level includes16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, an MMI radio incorporating an 11mm-thick powered folding screen, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth interface, SD card-based navigation and a light and rain sensor package.

Sport and S line versions upgrade to the acoustic hood and sit 15mm lower on their respective 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels thanks to sports suspension.

Both can also be equipped at no extra cost with the SE version’s more comfortoriented standard suspension, while S line models can be taken to the other extreme with sports suspension lowered by 25mm.

Shared Sport and S line features also include sports seats, the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system with five operating modes, dual-zone climate control and a high-resolution colour driver’s information system.

With its stunning looks, performance and quality finish inside and out, the £27,015-priced A3 Cabriolet Sport test car will give you plenty to smile about – especially on those sunny days.