The decision: Redesigned for 2022, the Audi A3 and S3 sedans provide balanced dealing with and myriad commonplace options, however hesitant transmissions and inconsistent high quality allow them to down.
Versus the competitors: With customers overwhelmingly preferring SUVs as of late, any small luxurious sedan beginning round $35,000 higher be one hell of a automobile to justify its existence. The A3 and S3 have their moments, however drawbacks we skilled behind the wheel and elsewhere preserve each vehicles in need of the mark.
With front- or all-wheel drive, the A3 runs from the mid-$30,000s to round $50,000. The S3 packs significantly extra efficiency and commonplace AWD; it’ll set you again one other $11,000 or so at both finish of the trim lineup. Round Vehicles.com’s Chicago headquarters, we drove an A3 with AWD and Audi’s non-obligatory sport suspension; we additionally drove the A3 and S3 back-to-back at a drive occasion in October in southeast Michigan. See our preliminary take after that drive, stack up the brand new A3 and S3 facet by facet, or examine them with their prior-generation 2020 counterparts (each vehicles skipped the 2021 mannequin yr).
Associated: 2022 Audi A3, S3 Fast Spin: Transmission Travails
Audi has additionally redesigned the associated RS 3, which presents much more efficiency, however it had not but debuted as of this writing.
Misplaced in Transmission
Whether or not it’s the weak preliminary grunt of the BMW 2 Collection Gran Coupe or the modest general energy of the Mercedes-Benz A220, the bottom powertrains in lots of entry-luxury sedans have been underwhelming. So it goes for Audi: From a cease, the A3’s turbo four-cylinder (201 horsepower and 221 pounds-feet of torque) delivers swift accelerator response and sturdy, usable oomph early on. However when you attain cruising velocity, that oomph is tough to entry.
The offender appears to be the A3’s transmission, a dual-clutch seven-speed computerized, which upshifts early and infrequently. Once you attempt to speed up when already in movement, although, it wants a cigarette break earlier than obliging. By my stopwatch, the A3 persistently wanted a full two seconds to downshift right into a decrease gear and surge forward throughout a normal 50 mph kickdown maneuver — regardless of loads of engine windup that urged one thing was coming. That’s a 3rd longer than most vehicles I run by way of that take a look at require and twice so long as probably the most responsive examples.
Transmission kickdown at decrease speeds appeared equally delayed within the A3, although I didn’t time it. It wasn’t simply me, both; a number of Vehicles.com editors have criticized the A3’s transmission. The sedan’s Dynamic setting — which is the sportiest of a number of selectable drive modes — holds decrease gears longer than the default mode, which lessens the necessity to kick down as usually. However when the drivetrain finally does settle into the next gear, requesting a decrease one can take simply as lengthy.
The S3 (306 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque) betters kickdown lag to a extra common delay. The automobile is expectedly fast, particularly as rpm builds. Energy turns into explosive previous 5,000 rpm or so — sufficient to lend the automobile a peaky, rev-happy character with some novel turbo lag. It’s slightly completely different from the A3’s low-rpm around-town versatility. Somewhat extra displacement would possibly even out a number of the top-heavy strategy: Just like the A3, the S3’s turbo four-cylinder displaces 2.0 liters, although the A3’s engine has a increased compression ratio because of Audi’s novel B-cycle.
The S3 recommends premium gas, whereas the A3 runs tremendous on common — with higher EPA fuel mileage.
Experience and Dealing with
Each Audis we examined have been outfitted with their extra aggressive suspension and wheel choices: 18-inch wheels and an non-obligatory sport-tuned suspension on the A3, and 19s and an S sport suspension with adaptive shock absorbers on the S3. Experience high quality within the A3 is agency however livable, with some harsh impacts at freeway speeds however good general physique management. The S3 rides firmer nonetheless, notably at freeway speeds, the place frost heaves and different bumps can show disruptive even within the suspension’s comfort-oriented setting; at decrease speeds, it’s extra just like the A3’s sport suspension — on the workable facet of agency.
It’s value noting that tiny luxurious sedans aren’t precisely a comfortable-riding group, so Audi isn’t an outlier right here. The usual setup on both automobile (17-inch wheels on the A3, 18s with passive shocks on the S3) has the potential to melt issues up, however we didn’t take a look at an A3 or S3 thus geared up.
In each vehicles, Audi’s AWD earns its preserve in the case of dynamics, not simply all-weather traction. It sends sufficient energy rearward throughout mid-corner acceleration to fend off understeer, making for gratifying, impartial stability. Roadholding was good in each vehicles (the tires have been Pirelli PZero all-seasons on the A3, Bridgestone Potenza high-performance summers on the S3), with minimal physique roll throughout turn-in. Steering suggestions is nice throughout the board, with the S3’s faster ratio delivering a welcome dose of additional sharpness.
The A3’s inside has bodily buttons in most areas, save a pod of touch-sensitive stereo controls — together with the dreaded quantity slider — on the middle console. Nonetheless, I’ll take this over the multiple-touchscreen overkill scenario you’ll discover in many pricier Audis. A single dashboard touchscreen within the A3 and S3 measures a diagonal 10.1 inches, although its widescreen ratio makes the displayed space smaller than that spec suggests. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are commonplace, as is a ten.25-inch digital gauge show. A bigger (12.3-inch) unit is non-obligatory.
Passenger area is briefly provide. The entrance seats afford good sliding vary however slim berths, clapping their occupants’ knees towards the doorways and console. Backseat legroom is appropriate for what these vehicles are, however the low bench means grownup passengers’ knees shall be uncomfortably elevated — and there’s no payoff in headroom. In our analysis of car-seat lodging, the A3 had easy-access Latch anchors, however becoming our rear-facing toddler and convertible seats required shifting the entrance passenger seat to this point ahead, most adults couldn’t comfortably sit there.
Our unbiased accounting of cargo quantity turned up simply 12.82 cubic ft of area within the A3. That’s lower than the Cadillac CT4 (13.68 cubic ft), to not point out most non-luxury compact sedans (examine Vehicles.com cargo specs for the A3 towards different vehicles of varied sizes and physique kinds). Any approach you slice it, the A3 is comfortable.
After all, that’s to be anticipated of an entry-level luxurious sedan, however Audi’s inconsistent inside high quality is much less excusable. Uncharacteristic of a model recognized for good-looking inside finishes, the A3 and S3 sport large ribbons of low-rent, grainy plastic close to the door handles and equipment selector, and when you get to the rear doorways, you’ll discover a diploma of cost-cutting that smacks of a $20,000 compact automobile. Even the supposed soft-touch areas up entrance are simply barely that; it’s a check-the-box mindset that smacks of bean counters. Granted, worth constraints for entry-level luxurious vehicles have all the time compelled powerful choices about what areas to put money into, however the skimping is clear within the A3 and S3.
Ought to You Purchase the A3 or S3?
The A3 begins at $34,945 (all costs embody vacation spot) with FWD, which is within the ballpark with different entry-luxury fashions. It’s effectively geared up at that, with commonplace heated leather-based seats and eight-way energy changes, tri-zone local weather management, a moonroof, lane departure warning with steering help, and ahead collision warning with computerized emergency braking. AWD is commonplace on the S3 ($45,945) and one other $2,000 on the A3. Choices embody adaptive cruise management, hands-on lane centering, a Nappa leather-based improve, customized paint and the upsized digital gauges. Loaded with manufacturing facility choices, the A3 tops out close to $50,000, whereas the S3 can attain over $60,000.
Nicer interiors, more room and higher drivetrains exist for related cash because the A3 — although not essentially all in the identical automobile, no less than amongst luxurious manufacturers. (You’ll find that by stepping right down to mass-market manufacturers, which is a longstanding actuality for lower-end luxurious vehicles, however that’s a dialog for one more day.) Someplace in all that is an equation that works for a sure A3 shopper, and if you happen to’ve learn this complete evaluate thus far, there’s a very good likelihood you need in on that. Nonetheless, it’s doubtful justification at finest for a automobile with apparent flaws.
The S3 is a distinct beast. It’s simply as cramped and penny-pinched because the A3, however it combines buckets of additional energy with a much less objectionable transmission, addressing what may very well be a deal-breaking flaw of the A3. If there’s a palatable automobile within the A3/S3, it’s on the bottom of the alphabet.
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