Ah, this week's test drive fills me with nostalgia. You see, it takes me behind the wheel of the 2022 Audi A3, a car I used to lease in its last generation. A beloved vehicle that was hard to give up the keys to. But my lease ended during the first year of the pandemic and I've waited quite awhile to see and drive the all-new model. And I have to say it was worth the wait. Audi's entry-level sedan feels anything but entry-level. You get Audi luxury plus the brand's latest available flagship technologies in a compact package.
My A3 Premium Plus test model is equipped with Audi's standard MMI touch display with a standard 10.1-inch screen and thanks to an optional Tech package, an incredible, practically life changing 12.3-Audi Virtual Cockpit. Probably my favorite tech feature of any vehicle on the road right now. The lineup also offers a new available head-up display and top-view camera system.
The new, wider, A3 delivers great curb appeal. Its new front-end styling and wider honeycomb grille looks terrific. The redesigned, slim, side mirrors, a design element benefiting improved aerodynamics, are also a favorite design feature. My test model's Glacier White Metallic hue is somewhat unusual with a blue/gray hinge to it.
Thankfully my test model replaces standard 17-inch wheels (which I really don't like the looks of) with optional 18-inch wheels. Like my last gen A3, they're fitted with low profile tires. I mention this because if I ever lease a vehicle with low profiles again, based on my previous experience, I'll spring for the Tire and Wheel Protection when financing.
The A3 lineup is equipped with LED headlights and taillights. Audi's next-gen Matrix-design LEDS are available.
The A3 is powered by a 2.0 TFSI 4-cylinder that's paired with a great 7-speed S-Tronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The 201-horsepower and 221-pound feet of torque it delivers actually feels better than the numbers might indicate, though I'm a numbers girl and yes, I'd love more ponies. That's where the S3 comes in with its 306-hp and 295 pound-feet of torque. The RS gets you to 401-hp.
New for 2022, the A3's powertrain is augmented by a standard 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) system, an A3-first. This increases fuel economy impressively. Audi says the A3 Quattro's combined MPG is up 24% from the previous Quattro model. I will say that the auto stop/start system is more noticeable than most. It wasn't so annoying however as for me to disable it.
The redesigned, modern and driver-centric cabin gives you an appropriate mix of soft-touch and plastic materials for its mid-40's price point. My model's Santos Brown leather interior with detailed stitching is well-designed, executed and creates a great space for the driver to feel at home in.
Hands-down my favorite A3 available feature is its the incredible Audi Virtual Cockpit system with the best integrated graphics and navigation (a satellite view) I think I've ever seen. Such a great design. All the information is so well-integrated. You've also got really cool traffic signal lights along with speed limit signs. Audi really thought of everything.
The A3's power and heated front leather seats are uniquely designed and comfortable. This isn't a high-performance sports car you'll go cornering in, so don't expect heavy side bolstering though the cushions and seat backs do seem to provide more support than I recall from the previous generation.
Audi really adds some modern elements to the slim center console framed by glossy black and silver trim. The short gear shift controller is one of them. It works and looks great. The other is the volume control. There's no volume knob, instead you use a small quarter-size easy to use touchpad (or the controls on the steering wheel.) I liked this update too.
The only thing I didn't really find intuitive in the cabin is the location of the Drive Mode select, as it wasn't located on the center console itself but among a row of switches above it.
The Premium Plus package includes leatherette covered door armrests and a wireless charger.
As far as lighting, the A3 has you covered day or night. Overhead, you find a panoramic sunroof with a sunscreen. At night, the cabin lights up in your choice of a rainbow of colors thanks to the ambient lighting provided in an Interior Style package.
Standard features include 3-way climate and 4 USB-C ports. And yay! Unlike with its sibling VW Jetta, the A3 doors unlock upon approach with the key fob.
When it comes to overall roominess, things get tricky for me. Whereas the size used to be just right, now the new A3 may be too small for my current needs. These days, I drive my parents to their appointments and I'm not sure if this best-fitting vehicle for them size and height-wise as they're used to a larger vehicle. I also seem to carry more around with me than I used to.
Leg-room in the back is so-so and if you're really tall, headroom could be an issue. Rear seat passengers are treated to a drop down armrest, a/c vents and USB-C ports.
Trunk space is pretty limited, partially thanks to a spare tire underneath the cargo floor. But the A3 has a neat trick up its sleeve - check out the photo above to see its super wide pass-through area which would really help for longer, bulkier items.
We've already gone over the incredible Audi Virtual Cockpit, so here let's talk about the A3's new standard 10.1” MMI touch screen featuring the new MIB 3 system. The touchscreen is responsive with quality graphics and the system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Audi MMI Navigation Plus system (available in a Tech package) is absolutely incredible with spot on directions and fantastic map quality. The voice command system also impressive and much more intuitive than VW's. You simply ask for a destination in a few seconds, up come your choices. You can also ask the system to do things like change the temperature.
Audi's optional premium Bang & Olufsen sound system is also tremendous and it's a really fantastic system for an entry-level luxury car.
A $550 Interior Style Package adds Agate gray fine grain birch wood inlays and an LED interior lighting package (those will come standard on the Premium Plus for 2023.)
The must-have-for-me $2,250 Technology package adds Audi Connect PLUS, MMI Navigation plus, Audi Virtual Cockpit plus 12.3-inch screen (w/traffic recognition) and a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The optional 18-inch wheels are a worth-it $800 and the Interior Style package adds another $550 to the price tag.
Ride and Drive
The A3 delivers an excellent German-engineered ride and drive, which is why I love Audis. They're simply fun to drive. The A3 offers Dynamic, Comfort, Auto, and Individual drive modes. The ride manages to be firm yet smooth even in Dynamic mode, when it deftly handles potholes while still amping up the fun factor. It's a very well-engineered execution. Steering feel and response is perfect and precise.
You get an excellent view of the road- I feel like it tends to be a higher seat view than a cockpit view of the road. But as with the old A3, this one tends to have more road noise than I'd like, easily covered up with the Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The A3 benefits from some of Audi's pre sense available driver assistance features. They include standard lane departure warning and high beam assist. My model is also equipped with available Audi adaptive cruise assist with lane guidance, rear cross traffic assist, and parking system plus with Park assist. I really like the blind spot monitoring warning lights on the side mirrors. They're large, easy to see and I much prefer them to lights on side mirrors themselves. The one thing it's missing for me is a semi-autonomous driving system like the ones you'll find in a Volvo or Hyundai.
Audi really takes the new 2022 A3 in the right direction. As equipped, my test model delivers the whole compact luxury package -- great German engineering, great looks, fantastic driving dynamics, excellent quality, safety and fabulous technology for under $45K.
- What I liked most: Audi Digital Cockpit Pro w/ Navigation, Bang & Olufsen sound, ride and driving dynamics.
- What I would change: Add more sound proofing and more power.
- MSRP: Base price $35,900. As equipped: $44,440.
- Fuel Economy: 28 city/36 highway/31 combined.
- Odometer reading when tested: 5,856 miles.
- Weight: 3,494 curb weight.
- Spare Tire: "Space-Saving" spare.
- Length-Width-Height: 176.9 long/ 78.1 with mirrors/ 56.2" high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gallons with fuel tank on the passenger side.
- Official Color: Glacier White Metallic. ($595)
- Towing Capacity: N/A
- 2022 Audi A3 in a few words: A well-executed gateway to the Audi brand.
- Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles New Vehicle Warranty/12-year Limited Warranty against Corrosion Perforation/ 4-year Roadside Assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Ingolstadt, Germany,
- Manufacturer's website: Audi