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Audi Reveals S3, RS5 Cabriolet – But Only One is America-Bound

Audi reveals a hot hatch and a cool convertible.

by on Sep.28, 2012

The new Audi S3: no plans for the States.

There was plenty of action on the Audi stand during the first Paris Motor Show press day, the maker balancing the futuristic Crosslane Cabriolet Concept with two more down-to-Earth production models.  But that doesn’t mean that either the new S3 compact sport hatch or the new RS5 Cabriolet would fall into the mundane category.

They’re two degrees of hot, the latest performance models in the expanding Audi assault on rivals BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG.  The good news for U.S. drivers is that the coupe cabrio will land in U.S. showrooms sometime during the first quarter of next year.  For now, however, there are no plans for the hot hatch to make the trans-Atlantic leap.

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That’s doesn’t mean we won’t see an S3 option sometime in the future, however.  Audi is working up a new sedan version of the A3, not confident it can generate enough sales of a hatchback.  The sportier “S” designation may be in the works following the launch of the 4-door model.

US-bound: the Audi RS5 Cabriolet.

For now, Americans will just have to watch from the distance.  What they’ll see is a 300-horsepower three-door that is about 132 pounds lighter than the previous-generation S3 despite having almost identical dimensions.  That underscores efforts by Audi – and parent Volkswagen – to slash weight in order to both improve performance and reduce fuel consumption.

Horsepower is up by 39, incidentally, with the new S3. The 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4, meanwhile, churns out 280 lb-ft of torque. The S3’s latest Stronic transmission further reduces consumption by letting the hatchback coast – much like a manual – when the driver’s foot lifts off the throttle.

Incidentally, the new LED headlamps are the fastest giveaway that you’re looking at the new S3 and not the A3 Sportback.

While the S3 might be quick, expect a real fire-breather, as one of our media colleagues suggests, when the RS5 Cabriolet hits the road.  For those not familiar with Audi nomenclature, the RS line is the most direct competitor to the BMW M and Mercedes AMG models.

(Get a first look at the new Audi Crosslane Coupe Concept. Click Here.)

In the case of the RS5 Cabriolet, Audi has equipped it with a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8, a high-revving powerplant that will blast out 444 horsepower – enough to launch the convertible from 0 to 100 kmh (62.5 mph) in 4.9 seconds – with a restricted speed of 155 mph.  (And you can hit 174 by having the electronic limiter removed, notes Autoblog.com.)

Audi has steered clear of the hardtop alternatives many competitors have been adopting. But the German maker has also taken great pains to match some of the advantages a hardtop might offer, notably working to minimize wind and engine noise.  That includes a new “acoustic hood” on the RS5 Cabriolet, the top opening in just 15 seconds and closing in 17.

According to Audi, exterior updates on the RS5 Cabriolet include, “a slight revision to the single frame grille design, sharper and more pronounced bonnet contours, new ‘solid band’ wraparound LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights, new look front and rear bumpers and 19-inch wheels in a new ’10-spoke’ design. In the Cabriolet, a subtle matt carbon fixed spoiler lip on the boot lid boosts downforce – this can be body-coloured if required.”

Inside, look for a new flat-bottomed, 3-spoke steering wheel, while the Convertible also gets a number of upgrades to its infotainment system, such as the Audi Music Interface iPod connection.

Europeans will see a base price of 88,500 Euros. While the U.S. price tag hasn’t been set that would work out to something near $120,000.

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