Chris Nixon rounds up the latest motoring news.

Size matters

Good things come in a small package with the latest Audi A3 Cabriolet: Premium German design and quality, a convertible roof, and even quattro all-wheel drive.

The new model is longer, lower and wider than its predecessor, its ground-up design a clear departure from the previous model.

The A3 Cabriolet 1.4 TFSI Attraction with cylinder-on-demand fuel-saving technology is the entry-level model in the range, at $47,300 before on-roads. The engine produces 103 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque, yet consumes just 4.9 litres per 100km.

Three ‘Ambition’ models complete the range, a diesel 2.0 TDI with 110 kW/320 Nm and petrol 1.8 TFSI with either front-drive or quattro all-wheel drive.

This is the first time the A3 Cabriolet has been offered with quattro. S tronic dual-clutch transmission is standard on all variants.

Although much bigger, the new Cab is around 75 kilograms lighter, thanks to the use of high-strength steel and aluminium in the bodywork and engine.

The convertible soft-top opens or closes in 18 seconds at speeds up to 50 kmh. An acoustic top is available as an alternative; featuring a thicker inner foam layer to further reduce interior noise.

A wind deflector and neck-level heating for the front seats are optional. An active rollover bars protects occupants if the car capsizes.

TESTING: Subaru WRX, WRX STi

$38,990-$54990 plus on-roads
4-door sedan
2.0 litre and 2.5 litre turbo petrol
132kW/250Nm WRX, 221kW/407Nm STi

No question, the WRX and racier WRX STi are stupendous bargains: the “Rex” costs less than it did 20 years ago, while the new STi comes with up to $11,000 off the old price.

And what is there to match the minimum 197 kW power, symmetrical all-wheel drive and rock-solid quality?

Both are easy to drive, especially with the WRX’s well-matched, optional Lineartronic CVT transmission – the first auto WRX in 10 years.

Comprehensive electronic driving aids abound, with SI-Drive multi-mode engine-transmission control and vehicle dynamics control in the WRX. The $49,990, manual-only STi adds sophisticated centre-differential control, torque-sharing during cornering and bigger Brembo brakes.

Standard and Premium variants are available in both WRX and STi and generally the specification level has been increased most generously.

FOR: Value, serious performance, enduring quality.
AGAINST: Typical Subaru styling.

VERDICT: WRX Premium auto for all-round, base STi for ultimate fun.