2022 Audi A3 First Test: Is the Cheapest Audi "Audi" Enough? (2023)

Duncan BradyWriterWilliam WalkerPhotographer

audi a3 Full Overview

Pros

  • Planted driving dynamics
  • Refined and efficient powertrain
  • Elegant styling

Cons

  • Limited standard safety features
  • Less power than previous model
  • Slightly noisy cabin

Allow us to let you in on a little secret: For many buyers, the badge does matter. The way a car makes them feel when they see it in their driveway or a parking lot is in many ways just as valid a reason for them to own it as how well it drives, its features-per-dollar value, or its road isolation.

Take for example the case of the redesigned 2022 Audi A3. Considering our conservatively optioned $43,440 test vehicle, there are larger, more powerful cars with just as many or more features at a lower price point available from the likes of Genesis (GV70), Lexus (IS), Acura (Integra), and even a couple of non-luxury brands such as Mazda, Kia, and Honda.

But the four rings carry a ton of cachet, and plenty of German prestige. Buyers in the subcompact luxury segment are dipping their toes into the luxury market, with the A3 and each of its direct competitors representing their automakers' most accessible models. The question becomes, is the A3 enough of an Audi to satisfy those first-time luxury buyers?

A Next-Generation A3

Audi is billing the 2022 A3 as an all-new small sedan, a replacement for the previous-generation A3 which had been on sale since the 2015 model year. Its sharp, updated styling looks more mature and elegant in person than in photos, and it's 1.4-inches longer, half an inch taller, and 0.8-inch wider than the car it replaces—all of which help distinguish the new A3 visually from its predecessor.

(Video) 2022 Audi A3 // An All-New Audi for ONLY $34,000?? ... and it's NICE!

What underpins and powers the 2022 A3 has changed quite a bit as well. Audi's latest subcompact sedan utilizes the same MQB Evo platform as its distant cousin, the MkVIII Volkswagen GTI, and it's powered by a version of the E888-code 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found under the hood of multiple Volkswagen Group products ranging from the Volkswagen Passat to the Porsche Macan. But in the new A3 it's a little different—here the turbo-four is augmented by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that not only offers a notable improvement in fuel economy (28/36 mpg city/highway for the AWD model we tested over the outgoing car's 22/30 mpg), but also benefits the car's overall driving experience.

On the Road

The best thing we can say about the hybrid system is that we hardly noticed it. The setup allows the A3 to coast with the engine shut down in some driving situations, and, better yet, when the engine fired back up, we never noticed a shudder through the cabin.

Likewise, the A3's mild hybrid setup is responsible for such refined low-speed behavior that we initially could have sworn it was fitted with a conventional automatic as opposed to its dual-clutch auto, many of which have a tendency to exhibit jerky, unrefined tendencies while creeping along in traffic. Not so in the new A3. Its dual-clutcher also delivered quick, crisp shifts when we drove with enthusiasm, which proved to be a best-of-both-worlds scenario.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four is actually down on power compared to last year's AWD A3; instead of offering separate output levels for the standard front-drive A3 and the model equipped with Audi's Quattro AWD system, every 2022 A3's engine produces 201 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, significantly less than the outgoing model's 228 hp and 258 lb-ft. The A3 is now the least powerful German subcompact sedan, trailing the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.

When we tested a previous-gen A3 with AWD, it reached 60 mph in a scant 5.4 seconds. For this year's model that same sprint took 6.4 seconds. The 2015 A3 we tested was also a full second quicker in the quarter mile (14.0 vs. 15.0 seconds) and beat the 2022 A3's 26.3-second figure-eight time by 0.7 second. Our track testers described the engine as adequate but nothing special, and pointed out that the test vehicle was obviously not one of Audi's S models. That said, they appreciated the car's satisfying and stable launch control system.

Indeed, Audi's powerplant, while smooth and torquey, leaves something to be desired at full throttle during passing maneuvers. The kind of driver who regularly prods the go pedal to the carpet will wish they had gone for the 306-hp S3.

Although our test crew noted a slightly dull turn-in, a lack of initial bite from the brakes, and a fair amount of body roll out at the track, the A3 feels planted and direct on the road, possessing the kind of high-speed stability we expect from German sedans. The ride is a bit on the noisy and firm side—this is no A8—but it feels sophisticated and not at all punishing through sharp impacts. Those who order their A3s without the Black Optic Sport package's sport suspension and 18-inch wheels (17s are standard) may fare better.

The A3 Has the Tech

Inside, the A3 features a front-and-center, 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment setup that uses the same display as the systems in Audi's more expensive models. Seriously—this is literally the exact screen you'd find in a $120,000 Audi RS Q8. The infotainment suite is logically laid out and mostly easy to use, and we appreciate how Audi separates hard buttons and switches for the climate controls. On the other hand, the quarter-sized touchpad Audi provides to adjust volume or change songs? We'd rather have better physical controls.

Our test vehicle came equipped with the standard 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster display, as opposed to Audi's 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit setup that is included in the Technology package. The screen clearly displayed plenty of high-resolution information, including Google Maps navigation data, and we didn't find ourselves wanting for the larger screen. One note on the navigation system, though: When we were searching the name of a movie theater (with only one location in Los Angeles), the system suggested locations in San Francisco and Dallas first. We opted to use the standard wireless Apple CarPlay instead.

In terms of driver-assist features, Audi only includes automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and automatic high-beams as standard (not uncommon for German cars in the segment) but our example's $3,300 Premium Plus package added adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic assist, among other conveniences. The features all worked as they should, and we specifically appreciated the smooth, natural braking of the adaptive cruise system. One pain point: The backup camera's low-resolution and fisheye lens make the A3 harder to park than it should be.

(Video) 2022 Audi A3 Test Drive Video Review

Now to address the more serious issues we had. During our initial loan, the infotainment system crashed multiple times (sometimes unable to reboot for hours), the navigation stopped working for days at a time, and multiple driver-assist features were deactivated altogether. Audi was unable to replicate the problems, and upon a second loan in a different A3, so were we. We believe these issues are unlikely to be present in any A3 you buy off the lot, but they are worth mentioning.

Is It Audi Enough?

For the first time luxury car buyer, the buyer who's excited to see an upscale badge on the nose of their new chariot, does the new 2022 Audi A3 do enough to sell that experience? Why yes, yes it does. Of course there are aspects of Audi's smallest sedan that remind us of its entry pricing—primarily the noisy cabin, firm ride, and middling performance numbers—but nothing that would prevent our recommendation to a prospective owner. So if you're in the market for the first car from a premium automaker, while there are other compelling options out there, the A3 mostly does entry-level luxury right.

Looks good! More details?

2022 Audi A3 Quattro (40 TFSI) Specifications

BASE PRICE

$37,895

PRICE AS TESTED

$43,440

VEHICLE LAYOUT

Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan

ENGINE

(Video) 2022 Audi A3 40 TFSI FWD: Start Up, Walkaround, POV, Test Drive and Review

2.0L Turbo direct-injected DOHC 16-valve I-4

POWER (SAE NET)

201 hp @ 4,800 rpm

TORQUE (SAE NET)

221 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm

TRANSMISSION

7-speed twin-clutch auto

CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)

3,479 lb (59/41%)

WHEELBASE

103.5 in

LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT

176.9 x 71.5 x 56.2 in

0-60 MPH

(Video) 2022 Audi A3 First Impressions | Talking Cars #344

6.4 sec

QUARTER MILE

15.0 sec @ 91.3 mph

BRAKING, 60-0 MPH

119 ft

LATERAL ACCELERATION

0.89 g (avg)

MT FIGURE EIGHT

26.3 sec @ 0.66 g (avg)

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON

28/36/31 mpg

EPA RANGE, COMB

450 miles

ON SALE

(Video) 2022 Audi A3 | Needs More Flair

Now

FAQs

Is Audi A3 entry-level? ›

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.

Are Audi A3 2022 reliable? ›

We expect the 2022 A3 to have about average reliability when compared to other new cars. This prediction is based on Audi's brand history and the previous generation of the A3.

Is it worth to buy Audi A3? ›

Should I Buy the 2023 Audi A3? The A3 is an upscale small sedan worth purchasing. In addition to its aforementioned benefits, it has a below-average starting price and is a great value in a luxurious class.

Does the 2022 Audi A3 require premium gas? ›

Audi A3 manufactured from 2003 onwards takes regular, unleaded gasoline with a minimum octane rating of 87.

Is a Audi A3 a good first car? ›

The Audi A3 is a good choice for a first car with average fuel consumption and solid reliability, plus some models have an AWD drivetrain for better traction and car control.

Is Audi A3 expensive to maintain? ›

An Audi A3 will cost about $9,035 for maintenance and repairs during its first 10 years of service. This beats the industry average for luxury sedan models by $2,926. There is also a 26.81% chance that an A3 will require a major repair during that time. This is 12.75% better than similar vehicles in this segment.

Which engine is best for Audi A3? ›

Best Audi A3 Sportback engine

Despite the availability of fuel-sipping diesels and high-tech plug-in hybrids, the best engine in the Audi A3 range is the straightforward 1.5-litre petrol one found in the 35 TFSI models, as even this is pretty good at the fuel pumps, offering claimed fuel consumption of nearly 50mpg.

Is maintenance on Audi A3 expensive? ›

Cost. The average total annual cost for repairs and maintenance on a Audi A3 is $741, compared to an average of $801 for luxury compact cars and $652 for all vehicle models.

Is an Audi better than a VW? ›

Volkswagen and Audi are both impressive brands with beautiful luxury vehicles on offer, but when it comes to safety, reliability, and style, Volkswagen just can't be beat.

Which Audi A3 is most reliable? ›

2017 is the best year Audi A3 as it offers many luxury and modern tech features. The A3 powertrain was revised in 2017, making it more powerful than previous models. The 2017 model comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and makes many safety features, like emergency braking, standard.

Which Audi model is most reliable? ›

Audi A4

What age group does Audi target? ›

About the study

The target group was young adults between 17 and 29 years of age.

Is Audi A3 a good second hand car? ›

The Audi A3 is a car we recommend to buy new, so we can recommend it on the used market, too. It's one of our favourite premium hatchbacks and, while it costs more to buy than some of its rivals, it looks great, is practical, is cheap to run and should prove pretty reliable, while its premium image will appeal to many.

Is Audi A3 small or medium car? ›

Summary. The Audi A3 is a mid-size hatchback (called Sportback) and saloon model, that sits above the A1 hatchback and below the A4 saloon in the Audi range. The current model is the fourth-generation A3, with the Sportback models arriving in the UK in middle of 2020.

What is equivalent to an Audi A3? ›

The A3 faces competition from its closest German rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The A3 faces competition from its closest German rivals, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The BMW 2-Series offers strong engines, but it feels out of place as a downward stretch for the brand.

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