SUMMER is finally upon us and what better way to enjoy it than with some stylish top-down motoring.

Audi’s new A3 Cabriolet is slightly bigger than its predecessor, but it’s lighter and faster.

There’s a good choice of engines too, including a 1.4-litre petrol, a powerful 1.8-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre diesel. A 2.0-litre diesel is available in two versions - one with 150PS and a 184PS.

The 2.0 diesel 150PS that I drove provided a really smooth and enjoyable drive that’s quieter than you might imagine even when driving reasonably fast with the roof down.

A soft but hard-wearing fabric roof opens the Cabriolet to the elements automatically in around 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31mph. Gone are the days of quickly trying to put the roof down while you’re stationary at traffic lights, only for them to turn to green before you’re finished.

When retracted at the touch of a button, the top - complete with heated glass rear window - rests in a tray that barely affects luggage capacity, which amounts to 275 litres and 320 litres with the roof up. The hood on Sport and S line trim levels is of triple-layer, as opposed to two-layer, which reduces noise inside the cabin when raised.

Like the A3 hatchback models, the Cabriolet is available with a choice of SE, Sport or S line specification. Standard equipment at entry level includes the fully automatic hood finished in black, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, Audi Music Interface iPod connection, DAB digital radio, a Bluetooth interface, preparation for SD card-based navigation and a light and rain sensor package.

Information is displayed on a 5.8-inch screen that neatly slides up from the dash on start-up, then disappears when you switch the engine off.

The engine, gearbox and steering are variable and can be tuned according to comfort, auto, efficiency and dynamic programmes, although I tended just to keep it on auto.

The all-important Bang & Olufsen sound system is an optional extra, though arguably worth the £750, along with £260 for heated front seats.

Inside is typically Audi and oozes quality. There’s also plenty of space in the front – I struggled a bit with child seats in the back, but we still managed. However, this isn’t a family car nor does it pretend to be. So leave the kids at home, go out, have fun and enjoy the ride!

Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0 TDi
Price: £27,820
Top speed: 139mph
0-62mph: 8.9 seconds
Fuel: 67.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 110g/km