There’s a reason that sports cars no longer sell in huge numbers the way they once did. It’s because sedans handle so much better than they once did, particularly sports sedans like 2022 Audi A3 and its sportier sibling, the S3.
Certainly, the practicality of a sports sedan — primarily the ability to transport more than one passenger — makes them a far more attractive proposition than a coupe. And their athleticism makes them much more alluring than the run-of-the-mill grocery getter.
This is why the Audi A3 and S3 boast a number of strong entry-luxury compact sedan competitors, such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA-Class, BMW 2 Series, Lexus IS, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4, plus the Acura ILX and forthcoming Integra among others.
Having skipped the 2021 model year, the A3 and S3 return as all-new models, wearing the styling of their larger A4 and A6 siblings while inheriting much of their newest technology as well. Both the A3 and S3 models come available in Premium, Premium Plus or Prestige trim. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard on the S3, and a $2,000 option on the A3.
Sold exclusively as a sedan, it’s offered as a hatchback in other markets. Interestingly, 85% of S3 buyers are men, compared to 44% of A3 buyers. S3 buyers are more likely to be married, however, according to Audi. During an event to introduce the new offerings to journalists, most of our time was spent in the S3.
For 2022, both models wear revised styling that lends the S3 a taut, sporty look, with aggressive hood sculpting, sharper side shapes, a large assertive grille and available matrix-design LED headlights. S3s get a different grille texture than A3s, as well as 14.1-inch cross-drilled front disc brakes.
In the rear, S3s get quad exhaust tips, a rear lip spoiler and can be finished with a Black Optics Package that darkens the roof and the exhaust tips. Both models are longer, lower and wider than the previous model, specifically 1.4 inches longer, 0.8 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller.
Overall, it’s quite fetching.
The same could be said of the high-tech interior, which feels properly upscale and modern, with sporty seats are finished with black, brown or beige contrast stitching. The center console has room for beverages and smartphones, and features a ultramodern toggle switch transmission shifter, which is aided by steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
A power panoramic sunroof, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, LED vanity mirrors, split-folding 40/20/40 rear seatbacks, and a rearview camera are standard. Wood inlays are available. Power seats with memory functionality are fitted for the first time, and are very comfortable. As you’d expect, front seat leg room is good, but rear seat leg room is dependent on the kindness of front seat occupants. While comfort and support are exemplary, the driver’s right leg rests against the hard center console, which would benefit from padding.
The S3 is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged aluminum-alloy DOHC 4-cylinder engine rated at 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque through a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission to all four wheels. That’s enough to reach 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, while returning an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
The A3 gets a milder version of the same engine mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. It generates 201 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque through the same 7-speed dual clutch tranny to the front wheels, although Quattro all-wheel drive is optional. While it takes longer to reach 60 mph — 6.6 seconds with front-wheel drive, 6.3 seconds with Quattro — fuel economy is better at 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, 32 mpg combined.
Safety and Technology
A 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen is standard. A larger 12.3-inch unit is optional. Thankfully, the screen doesn’t house the climate controls. That task is handled by a standalone set of buttons beneath it that are very easy to use. A major upgrade is the standard 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which can be reconfigured to display a large map or various bits of information.
Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the A3 or S3.
Standard driver-assistance safety systems include Audi pre sense, high-beam assist, lane-departure warning and a rearview camera. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, exit warning, lane guidance, and parking assist are optional.
2022 Audi S3 specifications:
|Dimension||L: 176.9 inches/W: 71.5 inches/H: 56.2 inches/Wheelbase: 103.5 inches|
|Powertrain||2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder, 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, |
and all-wheel drive
|Fuel Economy||23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||As tested: $45,945, including $1,045 destination and delivery charge|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
Being the sportier iteration of the A3, the S3 has the same McPherson strut front suspension and four-link independent rear suspension that’s enhanced by an adaptive suspension with dynamic chassis control.
Until the even wilder RS3 debuts, this is the hottest version of the A3, and the performance upgrades make a significant difference from the base A3. That said you will pay at least ten grand more for the privilege, but it’s worth it. Acceleration is whiplash inducing, with razor-sharp reflexes, precise steering and a manner sure to keep you grinning. There is some road feel, and the steering seems perfectly weighted. Body lean is well tamed.
Most of this goodness can also be found on the A3, but it seems a bit tamer. That’s not implying that it’s dull; far from it. Even the base A3 has much to recommend, with an entertaining demeanor that makes it a far better proposition than a fully loaded mainstream sedan, like a Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima or Honda Accord.
The disappearance of sports cars can be traced to vehicles like the 2022 Audi S3, a sports sedan that delivers the driving fun and enough space to bring friends and family along. The newest version is a notable improvement over the previous model, with contemporary looks, up-to-date technology, and a price tag that makes similarly-priced mainstream sedans seem pricey by comparison.
2022 Audi A3/S3 — Frequently Asked Questions
How much is the Audi A3?
The 2022 Audi A3 starts at $33,900 plus destination charge.
Are the Audi A3 and S3 the same?
With the exception of the engine, upgraded suspension and overall vehicle tuning, yes.
Is the new Audi A3 bigger?
Yes. The new Audi A3 and S3 are 1.4 inches longer, 0.8 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller than the previous model.