2022 Audi A3 Review:Driving Impressions

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Feb 16, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Audi deals!

The Audi A3 has earned praise from consumers and vehicle testers for well over a decade. Introduced to the U.S. market as a hatchback in 2006, the A3 switched to a 4-door sedan body style in 2015 to reflect American consumer preferences. And the move simply strengthened its hand. A new generation of the car arrived for the 2022 model year, complete with new mild-hybrid technology that adds to its appeal.

Though American luxury car buyers continue their exodus from sedans to crossovers as the conveyance of choice, it seems there will always be a place for a top-notch small luxury sedan. And that describes the A3 to a "t." In addition to the revised powertrain, the 5-passenger Audi rides on a new platform with a wider stance and a bolder look reminiscent of larger Audi sedans. Inside, the car features the latest version of Audi's MIB 3 infotainment system and its standard 10.1-inch touchscreen. It is accompanied by the choice of two digital instrument clusters. As usual, the A3's interior is spotless in execution and a study in helpful ergonomics.

2022 Audi A3 Price and Release Date - Find the best Audi deals!

For 2022, the Audi A3 sedan is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. The A3 Premium, with a starting price of $34,945 (including $1,045 freight), isn't entry-level in the traditional sense because of its high equipment level. It has 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way power front seats with 4-way power lumbar support, and a panoramic sunroof. Lane-departure warning is among the standard safety technologies.

The top-of-the-line Audi A3 Prestige ($42,245) has functional upgrades like the Audi Digital Cockpit Plus with its 12.3-inch instrument screen, head-up display, Audi's MMI Navigation Plus with real-time traffic, and Bang & Olufsen audio.

The subject of this driving impression is the mid-range A3 Premium Plus Quattro with a base price of $39,200 plus a $1,045 destination charge for a total base of $40,245. In addition to the standard Premium Plus equipment—adaptive cruise controllane-keeping assistance, wireless device charging, and other niceties—the test car had metallic white paint ($595), the Black Optic Sport package ($850), and an 18-inch wheel package ($800). The total sticker price was $42,490.

All three trims of the 2022 Audi A3 are available in front-drive or Quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) form, with the Quattros commanding a $2,000 premium on all trims. The Black Optic Sport package includes black exterior trim and an altered suspension that lowers ride height by 15 mm. It requires the purchase of the optional 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires.

Independent Expert Opinion: Design, Comfort, and Utility - Find the best Audi deals!

2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus Quattro White Front Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

The new Audi A3 has a driver-oriented cockpit but doesn't skimp on amenities for the passengers. Of course, those in the front seats get the better deal with heated, 8-way power-adjustable seats that have 4-way power lumbar support. A memory function for the driver's seat and mirrors is part of the Premium Plus trim. Standard 3-zone climate control keeps everyone comfortable, and a standard panoramic sunroof lets in plenty of light.

The dash combines a driver-oriented instrument nacelle with a broad horizontal expanse that includes the MMI infotainment system and, below it, well-marked climate controls. Control placement is logical, with the most essential information sources angled toward the driver. That might hamper a right-seat passenger-navigator, but the overall effect feels right.

The test vehicle came with the smaller of the two digital instrumentation readouts (10.25-inch versus 12.3-inch), but it was completely legible, clear, and pleasant to use. A head-up display and top-view camera system are available but were not on the test car.

The center console is divided into three zones. Closest to the dash is a metal-enclosed rectangle that includes an engine stop/start button and the sliding gear-selector, possibly the least appealing part of the interior. Behind that area is another zone with an electric parking brake control button, a 12-volt outlet, and a pair of cupholders. The third area is a reasonably roomy storage console.

Though the A3 is the brand's smallest sedan, it has several luxury touches. For example, leather seating surfaces with contrast stitching are standard, and buyers have their choice of interior color motifs. The thick-section steering wheel has expanded areas at the 10 and 2 o'clock positions, and the spokes contain a variety of easy-to-use controls. The rear seat area is surprisingly ample. The only potential gripe is about trunk space; there's just 10.9 cubic feet of cargo area.

Independent Expert Opinion: Infotainment, Technology, and Safety - Find the best Audi deals!

2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus Quattro White Interior Dashboard 2

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Through the years, Audi has won plaudits for its infotainment system. The new 2022 Audi A3 leverages the brand's most advanced system—the new MIB 3 with a 10.1-inch touchscreen. It includes Audi MMI navigation and handwriting recognition. The standard Audi smartphone interface provides access to wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto for compatible devices. Wireless smartphone charging is also available. The standard audio system is more than adequate, but audiophiles will prefer the optional 680-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with 15 speakers and a 16-channel amplifier.

As mentioned, the new A3 gives drivers the choice of two digital instrument clusters. The standard 10.25-inch instrument array in the test vehicle was excellent, giving the driver three separate viewing modes: Dynamic, Sport, and Classic. The larger Audi Digital Cockpit Plus with a 12.3-inch screen, head-up display, and Audi's MMI Navigation Plus with real-time traffic are standard in the top-level Prestige trim.

All 2022 Audi A3 models have several advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) as standard. Even more ADAS technologies are available on upper trim levels. Audi Pre Sense Basic is standard across the lineup. It takes steps like rolling up the windows and tightening the safety belts to protect the driver and passengers if a potential collision is detected. Also standard across the line, Audi Pre Sense Front scans the road and gives the driver a series of warnings when a possible accident looms. Should the driver fail to respond appropriately, the vehicle can brake automatically to avoid a collision or reduce its severity. Lane-departure warning is also standard across the A3 lineup.

The A3 Premium Plus and Prestige trims provide lane-centering assistance that helps the driver keep the sedan centered in its lane. These trims also have adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic warning. The A3's available automatic parking assist can automatically steer the A3 into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces.

All of the testable ADAS features on the subject car—adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance—were easy to apply and worked seamlessly. Happily, we were unable to test collision-avoidance features during the stint on public roads.

Independent Expert Opinion: Driving the 2022 Audi A3 - Find the best Audi deals!

2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus Quattro White Rear Quarter View

Photo: Jack R. Nerad

Driving the 2022 Audi A3 is a delight. The sedan's compact footprint combines with its willing suspension to deliver complete control while maintaining a comfortable ride. With Quattro AWD, traction and feel for the road are excellent. Inclement weather would be no test for the A3 Quattro in most instances.

The only powertrain choice is a 201-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged engine equipped with mild-hybrid technology, and it proved more than up to the task. Power delivery comes via a 7-speed automatic transmission. Not only does the engine provide a robust 221 pound-feet of peak torque, but the 48-volt electric motor system also augments it. This gives the A3 an exceptionally lively feel in most day-to-day driving situations.

Another interesting aspect of driving the A3 is the car's ability to coast with the engine shut down in certain situations in which it is advantageous for fuel economy. The A3's Audi Drive Select system offers drivers the choice of four modes: Dynamic, Comfort, Auto, and Individual. The modes enable drivers to adjust steering effort, transmission shift characteristics, and throttle response, among other parameters, and the Individual setting lets drivers fashion their own custom driving mode.

While not as performance-oriented as the closely related Audi S3 with its 306-hp engine, the A3 can certainly be regarded as a "driver's car." Handling is predictable, acceleration is sure without turbo lag, and ride quality is comfortably firm with little disconcerting body roll.

Independent Expert Opinion of the 2022 Audi A3 - Find the best Audi deals!

In the all-new 2022 Audi A3, the brand's engineers and designers have made a good thing better. For over a decade, critics have regarded the A3 as one of the best models in its segment… and one of the best bargains among luxury sedans overall. This latest iteration combines more sophisticated big-car looks within a handy size.

The A3's ride, handling, creature comforts, fuel economy, and safety array all combine to deliver excellent value. The infotainment system isn't quite as intuitive as some of the others, especially from mass-market brands, but it has impressive capabilities that one can easily learn. The A3's small trunk is another minor issue, but it is larger than that of the competitive Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

In total, the all-new 2022 Audi A3 maintains the model's well-earned reputation as one of the most appealing small luxury sedans available. With a base price well under $35,000, it remains an exceptional luxury-car value.

Jack R. Nerad has been reviewing cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for more than three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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