By Matthew Mills
  • Put it on the wishlist

    Put it on the wishlist


Matthew Mills has set his heart on the Audi S3 Cabriolet. Now all he needs to do is write the Great Australian Novel to earn the right to own one.

Rewards are important.  For me, having a light at the end a tunnel is the key to getting things done.

It works on a small scale. When it’s my turn to do the chores and I’m faced with a mountain of dirty washing and four kids’ rooms that look like the morning after a particularly raucous house party, I tell myself that when it’s all spick and span again I’m allowed to treat myself to a BLT – knickers to the carb count.

And my prize culture expands to bigger tasks – and bigger rewards. When things are looking tough, say, a week and a bit before deadline and the workload is beginning to verge on crushing, me and my wife – she’s the editor of this illustrious organ – have been known to promise ourselves a night on the town and a plush hotel room if we can actually get the thing off stone.

It works, too. As long as there’s a hedonistic speck on the horizon, I’m pretty confident I can get most any task done.

What worries me, however, is how I would go about rewarding a truly blue chip achievement. What, for instance, could I promise myself if, say, I finally wrote and saw published The Great Australian Novel?

Not knowing what glittering bauble I could offer up for such a momentous achievement has always been a problem for me. Always, that is, until this week when the good people at the Audi Centre Perth invited me to have a good look at their S3 Cabriolet.

And now, I think I’ve found my ultimate prize.

This will be what’s sitting outside the conference centre with a big red bow on its bonnet when I climb down from the podium after picking up my Booker Prize.

The Audi S3 Cabriolet is just a lovely car. It’s stylish and turns heads, but has none of the brash shouty glare of some top end motors. It is sophistacted, calm – a trait that Audi has long traded on as, over the years, it has quietly produced a long list of iconic cars. Who didn’t grow up yearning for a Quattro?

But before we launch into why this is a mechanically beautiful car I have to admit the real reason why I am so smitten – shallow as it may be, it’s simply because it’s a soft-top.

I love cars, and I love the diversity of the industry, but cabriolets, for me, just make everything better. A removable roof transfers a car into the prize that I’m looking for – it makes it a machine built for pleasure, not for practicality. It’s not about getting from A to B, it’s about loving driving, and loving life.

It’s like having two cars. When you feel like celebrating, waving your hands in the air and announcing to the world how much you love life, you put the top down. But when you want to step away, hide even, the top goes up.

Yes, I love cabriolets – and few people do them as well as the clever coves at Audi.

The mechanics of the S3’s roof-removal are a joy to behold – so much so that you may find yourself childlike in your drive watching it go up and down over and over again.

The S3 achieves the mesmorising transformation in just 18 seconds – and what’s more it can do it on the go. Stick below 50kmh and you can go topless without having to engage park.

And driving is what the S3 is all about. The sporty cousin of the A series, any Audi S will offer you a great on-the-road experience. The S3 Cabriolet boasts a 2.0 TFS four cylinder engine that develops an impressive 210kW and 380Nm. That kind of power means that it’s quick off the mark, going from a standing start to 100km/h in just five and a half seconds. All that grunt, but somehow the Audi eggheads have managed to put together a car that will take you 100km on just 7.1 litres of gas.

The sporty six-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission is standard on the S3 Cabriolet, so it's fun and exciting to drive, gripping the road with confidence – the car’s perfect design meaning that it’s as comfortable to drive with the top down as it is fully encased.

And all this wonderful driving is experienced in a luxurious and stylish cabin, the kind of space that whispers opulence and excess. The seats are covered in fine Nappa leather, with heating for the two in the front, and the multi-function flat-bottom steering wheel is also wrapped in cow hide.

Gadgets aplenty come as standard – MMI navigation, Audi park assist with front and rear sensors and a camera to show what’s behind you, Bluetooth for music streaming and dual-zone climate control with digital display and rear air vents.

From the outside too, the S3 Cabriolet is stunning. Powerful, sleek and compact, it turns heads with Xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running and tail lights, S-specific body kit, quad tail pipes and 18-inch alloy wheels in 5-parallel spoke design.

All this and the S3 is safe as houses too – a new active rollover protection system shields the occupants in a worst case scenario situation just one of the things contributing to its 5-star ANCAP rating.

It looks, then, as though I have finally found the prize I’m looking for. Time to get going on the novel, I think.  PL

Audi S3 Cabriolet, from $81,500 Drive Away. Audi Centre Perth, 337 Harborne Street, Osborne Park WA 6017. Tel: (08) 9231 5888. 


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