2022 Audi A3 / S3: First Drive Review

© Audi of America2022 Audi A3 Sedan
Audi’s sporty A3 compact sedan underwent a revision for the 2022 model year, rolling out with crisp new styling, a new driver-focused interior and the German automaker’s latest technology. Slightly larger than the outgoing model, the 2022 A3 also offers more interior room yet remains a sporty, fun-to-drive sedan. Recently we attended a press event to drive the 2022 A3 and S3 on some winding mountain roads outside Denver, Colorado.

© Audi of America2022 Audi A3
When the Audi A3 first arrived in the U.S. as a 2006 model, it was available exclusively as the A3 Sportback — a 5-door hatchback design. When Audi redesigned the A3 for 2015 it became a sedan for the U.S. market. Since the Audi A4 had increased in size, the 2015 A3 was nearly identical in dimensions to the original 1996 Audi A4. While the 2022 A3 is slightly larger than the previous model at 1.4 inches longer, 0.8 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller, it still remains a sporty, compact sedan.

© Audi of AmericaExterior Design
The new 2022 Audi A3 exterior design adds sharper, crisper lines including new hood sculpting. The bold Singleframe grille gets reshaped with a honeycomb design flanked by standard LED headlights or available matrix-design LED headlights with digital daytime running lights. One of the most notable changes to the new model is the addition of quattro blisters to the fenders, inspired by the design of the original Audi Ur quattro coupe from the 1980s — a race car that was extremely successful in rally competition. To accentuate the new shape, designers incorporated deeper sculpting in the lower doors, and the C-pilar is more sloped for a sportier roofline.

© Audi of America2022 Audi S3
The 2022 Audi S3 design takes a bold, more aggressive tack than the A3 including a rhombus pattern in the Singleframe grille, a more aggressive front fascia, a rear lip spoiler, larger quad exhaust outlets and standard 18-inch wheels. The available Black Optic package adds black exterior trim including the roof and exhaust tips, as well as 19-inch bi-color wheels with machined faces and black pockets, shod with summer tires.

© Audi of AmericaA3 Interior Design
While the new exterior design adds crisp lines and refined details, the new A3 interior takes a big step forward with a bold, sporty design that incorporates a standard 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and a standard 10.1-inch center MMI touchscreen powered by Audi’s MIB 3 system; it includes handwriting recognition. The design angles the center screen toward the driver and features a horizontal flow across the width of the cabin, including dual horizontal vents in front of the passenger and vents on either side of the instrument cluster. The center console offers improved storage, and the compact shifter creates more usable space.

© Audi of AmericaA3 Model Lineup
The 2022 Audi A3 40 TFSI is offered in three trim levels: the Premium starting at $33,900, Premium Plus at $37,200, and Prestige at $41,200. Front-wheel drive is standard and all three trims are available with quattro all-wheel drive for an additional $2,000. Prices do not include a destination charge of $1,045. Standard equipment for the 2022 Audi A3 includes 17-inch wheels with all-season tires, Audi connect CARE with telematics, Audi Pre-Sense front with pedestrian detection and lane departure warning, as well as LED headlights and taillights.

© Audi of AmericaA3 Premium Plus, Prestige
The 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus adds adaptive cruise control, a convenience package, full LED headlights with a DRL signature, lane guidance, leatherette-covered door armrests, a top view camera system and a wireless phone charging pad. The A3 Prestige adds Agate Gray fine grain birch wood inlays, animation for the headlights and taillights, headlight washers, a head-up display, LED interior lighting plus, Matrix-design LED headlights, and a technology package.

© Audi of AmericaOption Packages
The A3 Premium offers a convenience package for $1,900 that includes alarm system with motion sensor, Audi advanced key, side assist with rear cross traffic assist, park assist and SiriusXM with 360L. The A3 Premium Plus offers a technology package for $2,220 that includes Audi connect plus, Audi MMI Navigation Plus, a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Plus, a Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system and traffic sign recognition. The Black Sport Package is available for all three trim levels at $1,650; it includes Black Optic exterior trim, 18-inch wheels with all-season tires and sport suspension.

© Audi of AmericaS3 Model Lineup
Audi also offers the 2022 S3 in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige versions starting at $44,900, $47,700 and $51,500, respectively — not including the $1,045 destination charge. The standard sport suspension sits 0.6 inches lower than the A3, and the available S sport suspension with damper control is adjusted for Audi Drive Select modes. Standard equipment includes 18-inch wheels with run-flat summer tires, full LED headlights, front sport seats, aluminum interior trim and LED interior lighting plus. Premium Plus adds adaptive cruise control, phone box wireless charging, a convenience package and lane guidance. Prestige adds Agate Gray fine grain birch wood inlays, animation for headlights and taillights, headlight washers, a head-up display, LED interior lighting plus, Matrix-design LED headlights and a technology package.

© Audi of AmericaS3 Options
The S3 Premium offers a convenience package for $1,500 that includes an alarm system with motion sensor, Audi advanced key, side assist with rear cross-traffic assist and SiriusXM with 360L. Both S3 Premium Plus and Prestige offer the S Sport Package for $1,100; it includes suspension with damper control and red brake calipers, as well as a Fine Nappa leather package for $1,20 with Carbon Atlas interior trim and Nappa leather seats with diamond stitching. The Black Sport Package is available for all three trim levels at $1,950 and includes Black Optic exterior trim including the roof, exhaust tips, 19-inch bi-color wheels with machined faces and black pockets, shod with summer tires.

© Audi of AmericaUnder the Hood
The 2022 Audi A3 draws power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI engine producing 201 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque that gets combined with a 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission. For the first time, the A3 also is equipped with a standard 48-volt mild hybrid system that improves both performance and efficiency by providing a boost of up to 12 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque during drive-off; it will also allow the A3 to coast with the engine off in certain driving conditions. Both the A3 FWD and quattro are now equipped with the same engine, including the mild-hybrid system. According to Audi, the A3 quattro will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds and is rated at 28 mpg city / 36 mpg highway / 31 mpg combined; the A3 FWD is rated at 29 mpg city / 38 mpg highway / 32 mpg combined.

© Audi of AmericaUnder the S3 Hood
The new 2022 Audi S3 is motivated by a 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI engine producing 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque — an increase of 18 horsepower and 15 lb-ft of torque over the previous model. The S3 is equipped with a 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission and standard quattro all-wheel drive, although it does not receive the mild-hybrid system. Audi specs show the A3 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 second and still achieves impressive full economy ratings of 23 mpg city / 32 mpg highway / 27 mpg combined.

© Audi of AmericaInner Space
Audi has a deserved reputation for refined vehicle interiors, and the next-generation A3 moves things up a notch with standard leather for the sport seats, offered in three colors with contrast stitching: Black with Rock Gray stitching, Santos Brown with Steel Gray stitching and Parchment Beige with Steel Gray stitching. Platinum Gray trim is standard, with Agate Gray fine grain birch wood standard on the Prestige and optional on the Premium Plus.

2022 Audi S3S3 Interior
The 2022 Audi S3 interior features new heated 8-way power-adjustable S Sport seats with 4-way adjustable lumbar support. Color choices are Black with Rock Gray stitching, Black with Express Red stitching, and Steel Gray with Anthracite stitching. Fine Nappa leather with diamond stitching is available. Aluminum Spectrum interior trim is standard, with Carbon Atlas trim optional for the S3 Premium Plus and Prestige.

© Audi of AmericaOn the Road
The new exterior design fits the new car to a T — even the entry A3 Premium looks crisp, sporty and perfectly proportioned for its size, and the car drives as well as it looks. The 2022 Audi A3 sedan feels like a European sport sedan should: nimble, responsive and fun. The 2.0-liter mild-hybrid engine delivers plenty of power, and the 7-speed DCT S tronic has been one of the best transmissions in the industry for a while now. While the A3 quattro is down slightly on power compared to the outgoing model (which had ratings of 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque), the extra boost from the mild-hybrid system fills the gap while also providing seamless start-stop functionality.

© Audi of AmericaOn the Road
While driving the twisty mountain roads northwest of Denver we discovered a new A3 that is comfortable and confidence inspiring, with responsive steering and balanced handling. With the Audi Drive Select in Auto, the transmission stays in the gear for most efficiency, but a quick change to Dynamic results in more direct throttle response and a transmission that holds lower gears longer — even through corners. Of course the driver can also use steering wheel paddles to shift manually. The A3 feels stable and balanced when pushed hard through the corners. It’s a practical, efficient car that’s always ready for fun.

© Audi of AmericaInner Space
The interior design of the 2022 Audi A3 possesses a sporty feeling, and its standard leather seats are supportive and comfortable. The new console design provides a useful space increased by the compact shifter. And although it’s a 4-door sedan, the A3’s small stature makes it feel more like a 2+2. The car has plenty of room for two or even three adults from time to time; however, if owners anticipate using the rear seat often, a bit more room would probably be preferred. That said, the diminutive size of the A3 also is one of the things that makes it both efficient and fun — a compromise that works, although owners should be mindful of this tradeoff.

© Audi of AmericaS3 On the Road
Add more than 100 additional horsepower, sport suspension, larger brakes and larger tires, and the S3 is even more fun on twisty mountain roads. With quattro all-wheel drive and loads of low-end torque, the S3 is one of those rare cars that subtly goads drivers to push it a little harder. The ride is firm although that’s to be expected. The sport suspension with damper control feels great through the corners, remaining balanced and stable even over rough sections of pavement. The S sport seats are fantastic — both supportive and comfortable — and look great with the diamond stitching and Nappa leather. The Carbon Atlas trim also adds dimension to the already sporty, refined interior of the S3. The 2022 Audi S3 is a great sport sedan that would make an excellent everyday driver — lots of fun on challenging mountain roads or even at a racetrack.

© Audi of AmericaRight for You?
Audi dialed in the 2022 A3 with exterior design upgrades and a bold new interior that is both sporty and refined. Interior details such as standard leather, contrast stitching, a standard digital cockpit and MMI touchscreen take the A3 more upscale than its position in the lineup. The A3 is a great car to drive, and it feels exactly as a sport sedan should. It has plenty of power for quick, spirited driving, but it also remains comfortable and efficient. For those who want to take things up a notch, the S3 is more powerful and capable, but that should in no way detract from how great a sport sedan the A3 has become. For anyone in market for an entry-luxury sedan, the 2022 Audi A3 should be on the consideration list, and at $2,000 more quattro AWD is a must-have option.

© Audi of AmericaRating: 8.5
Pros: Crisp exterior design; sporty; fun driving yet practical and efficient.
Cons: Back seat is a little tight for everyday use.
Bottom Line: The 2022 Audi A3 is sporty and a joy to drive. It feels like a classic European sedan with modern technology.

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