Some things go together\: Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, and pleasant wintry mornings and cabriolets. We found ourselves at the wheel of one a couple of days ago. The roads were twisty, the light was mellow and life was good. The car we were driving was the Audi A3 Cabriolet, which broke cover at the Auto Expo in January and is now shipped to India as a completely-built unit. The Cabriolet looks very similar to the A3 Sedan, except for one major difference\: without that roof, it looks way cooler than everything around it. We especially loved the aluminium finish for the doors and the windscreen frame, and the S-Line trim, which comes standard, perks the whole package up. If youre familiar with the cabin of the A3, the Cabriolets interiors will offer no surprises. But, its classy, well thought-out and well laid out. The leather seats cosset you nicely, the centre console is angled towards the driver, the MMI thingy comes with a retractable 7-inch screen; the boot comes with decent space, and the optional Bang \& Olufsen system is quite the thing. Theres lots of space for two, but four will be a bit of a crowd.
Gallery\: Audi A3 CabrioletThe roof. Oh yes, the roof. The Cabriolets fabric roof can be retracted in around 18 seconds at the touch of a button. Its a smooth, fuss-free procedure, and while retractable soft-tops are not as novel in India as they once used to be, it still turns heads. The Cabriolet is powered by the same engine that is found under the hood of the A3\: the 1.8-litre TSFI petrol, which is a turbocharged motor. The 180bhp motor is a rev-happy customer and is delightfully smooth. It is also pretty –surprisingly – punchy, and finds an able ally in the 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. And, thanks to the romance of top-down motoring, everything feels faster, quicker and smoother in the Cabriolet than in the A3. The Cabriolet is certainly and naturally quicker to the ton than the A3 sedan. Audi claims a 0 to 100kph time of 7.8 seconds for the Cabrio as compared to the A3 Sedans 8.61 seconds, and the formers top speed is rated at 242kph.Audi has stayed true to the spirit of the cabriolet with its latest launch, and the suspension is softly sprung, but not to the extent that it dims the experience the car, which sports 17-inch alloys, offers. If there is a fly in the ointment – and you feel that especially around corners – its the vague steering. But, while it dims driver involvement to a certain extent, the A3 Cabriolets other significant strengths are able to mask that one deficiency. The A3 Cabriolet costs ?44.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), and, while it isnt the most practical car out there, it is a one-of-a-kind offering (it is tough to compare it with anything on sale here) and fits the bill if youre in the market for a second or third car, are not in any particular hurry to get anywhere and like to do things in style. The numbers4cyl, 1798cc, turbo-petrol, 180bhp, 250Nm, 7-speed automatic, 0 to 100kph\: 7.8 seconds (claimed), ?44.75 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)The verdictPricey and impractical, but looks good and makes you feel good