Affordability and luxury are not mutually exclusive, particularly with an entry-level sedan such as the Audi A3. This model offers one of the best values for the segment, but also comes with a pair of performance variants.
Though smaller than the average midsize mainstream sedan, its low starting price makes it an enticing proposition for consumers aspiring for a premium nameplate.
2022 Audi A3 Review
Audi offers the 2023 A3 in two grades – Premium ($34,900) and Premium Plus ($38,500). Front-wheel drive comes standard; all-wheel drive is a $2,000 upgrade. Add $1,095 for the destination charge.
Audi offers two more variants based on this model.
- The S3 is the middle of the trio and comes with three grades – Premium ($45,900), Premium Plus ($48,800), and Prestige ($52,800).
- At the top of the pack is the RS 3, a performance model offered in one well-equipped grade for $58,900.
Our review covers the A3, with the S3 and RS 3 powertrains mentioned. Audi dropped off an A3 Premium Plus model with all-wheel drive for our driving pleasure.
After sitting out the 2021 model year, the Audi A3 is back. It is also new. As before, it represents a balanced compact luxury sedan with tidy and clean proportions. The front fascia features a quadrilateral grille with signature headlights and handsome LED lighting accents.
The natty body is elegant, with tastefully placed sculpting to suggest motion. The rear is marked by a trunk lip spoiler and diffuser trim. The taillamp supplies a fitting connection point between the upper and lower trunk. Audi’s design engineers avoided excess, while still delivering an upscale model.
The A3 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires. LED lighting, heated side mirrors, and hidden exhaust tips are included.
You’ll count five seatbelt positions in the Audi A3. But only the front two are worthy of holding adults. The rear seating area is small, compressed, and not especially comfortable for anyone beyond their growing years.
For the driver and front passenger, there is ample room even for tall adults. The seats are comfortably padded and feature only slight bolstering.
Audis typically are well-appointed with leather and high-end materials throughout the cabin. The A3’s mission, though, is to garner luxury buyers at a reasonable price point.
Leather surfaces are available, but soft-touch materials are used liberally as well. Audi’s conservative approach combined with a quality fit and finish mesh well here.
The A3 comes with standard leather-trimmed seats, heated and power-adjustable front seats, and lumbar support. The Premium Plus model moves up to Nappa leather seats. A panoramic sunroof and three-zone automatic climate control are also standard.
Storage space is at a premium with small cubbies and just a few of them in the cabin. Along with 10.9 cubic feet of trunk space, finding places to store gear may be a challenge, especially on long trips. Upgrading to the A4 sedan or moving over to any one of the brand’s utility vehicles will offer some relief.
Audi continues with the surprises by including a 10.3-inch digital instrument panel display along with a 10.1-inch touchscreen display. The display screen represents a pleasing upgrade of Audio’s previous interface. It loads quickly and moves smoothly through the panels.
The standard audio package includes satellite radio and is bundled with USB ports, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth.
Among the upgrades are an exquisite 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. Peerless sound quality and strategically placed speakers are this audio brand’s calling card. Navigation, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, wireless device charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot are also available.
Automatic high beams, forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning are standard driver-assist features. These features are part of a “Pre Sense” system that rolls up windows and tightens seatbelts when sensors detect a crash.
The list of available driver-assist features incorporates lane centering assist, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control, a head-up display, and traffic sign recognition are also available. Moreover, consumers will find parallel and perpendicular park assist.
Audi supplies the A3 with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission. This engine develops 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, strong numbers for a sedan of this size.
Choose the S3 model and Audi tunes this same engine to develop 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Along with its available adaptive dampers, it supplies capable performance for the track.
Speaking of the track, the RS 3 is worth mentioning. Powered by a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine, this model makes 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. It is marketed separately and is truly a niche player in the segment.
What’s the difference-maker for Audi when it takes on BMW and Mercedes-Benz, its top competitors? That would be the company’s all-wheel-drive system, trademarked as “quattro” and the go-to drivetrain for this brand.
Yes, some models such as the A3 offer standard front-wheel drive. That’s fine for some people, but quattro raises the driving experience appreciably.
Where Mercedes-Benz and BMW largely rely on rear-wheel-drive platforms with available all-wheel drive, Audi bases much of its fleet on front-wheel drive.
We’ll say this: if performance matters, then start your search with a quattro system and don’t look back. In our estimation, it is the great equalizer to anything its competitors throw its way.
Our test Premium Plus model featured the quattro system. In most current Audi cars, including the A3, the quattro incorporates front and rear differentials as well as a center Torsen differential. The Torsen arrangement works with software to shift additional power to the rear wheels, automatically.
The standard powertrain should please most shoppers. It is hard to believe that just 201 horsepower is on tap, but the A3 is relatively light on its feet. Precision steering, weighted handling, and firm brakes are among the hallmarks of this model.
Beyond the standard engine, a mild-hybrid system adds up to 12 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque. The system adds kick from the start and an additional boost when needed. The 7-speed automatic transmission keeps pace and shifts gears without drama.
For vigorous driving, we’d operate the sedan in sport mode even though that’s no substitute for an absent manual.
Never fear, but the A3 quattro is very much a driver’s car. This car stays planted on twisty roads and holds its own through corners. However, without quattro, the car would likely lose its poise.
With quattro, the front-wheel-drive bias is still felt, but it is largely mitigated as power shifts to the rear wheels. Still, for spirited driving, the S3 is more agile and better suited for twisty roads with larger brakes to bring it to a sure stop.
Audi A3 Considerations
With value being the operative word for the Audi A3, it is easy to consider the Premium model and stop there. We believe, though, that the Premium Plus is the ideal choice and for the right price.
Add in all-wheel drive and you’ll enjoy all the benefits of legendary quattro for about $40,000. That remains a reasonable price to pay for this entry-level luxury sedan.
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