Audi has introduced some stunning vehicles as of late that combine striking looks, luxurious appointments, and remarkable performance. Such a mix of characteristics all done well seem to be a forte of Audi with vehicles like the new S3, which slots in between the A3 and RS3 sedan to complete the subcompact sedan offering from the brand.
The new 2022 Audi S3 is part of a new generation of the subcompact sedan that elevates the performance a bit from the standard A3 but somehow pulls off a magical stunt of still offering comfortable seating and an inviting premium cabin laced with advanced tech. Such a magical stunt also permits the new S3 to have decent interior room for a subcompact sedan.
Powering the new 2022 Audi S3 is a reworked 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that produces a healthy 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent through a 7-speed automated manual (dual-clutch) transmission that fires off shifts quickly and limits slipping of its automated clutch in most circumstances. The latest quattro all-wheel-drive system keeps the S3 surefooted and coupled with the resonant turbocharged engine the S3 will dart to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. In fact, I was able to best Audi’s figure hitting 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds through the use of the clever launch mode.
The new Audi S3 finds a sweet spot between the S3 and RS3 where it offers much more of a compliant luxury-sports package over the A3 and its well-to-do 201 horsepower having over 100 more ponies, adaptive dampers, sporty and supportive heated seats up front, a dual-clutch transmission, and a bevy of distinctive sport and luxury traits that make the S3 stand out in a good way. For the subcompact size of the S3, the major compromise comes into play in the rear seats with limited room but just enough for a couple of your friends to join in on a luxury-laced thrill ride, or 3 small kids.
Fuel consumption is respectable for the amount of power the S3 has and you’ll easily match the EPA estimates of 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined in the real world. Of course, when you start to push the S3 hard those figures start to decline quickly but it’s well worth the extra visit to the pump as the S3 feels light on its feet and is so easy to carve up back roads and fit into tight spaces. It almost feels like it’s on rails.
In today’s automotive landscape, creating an entry-level luxury sedan is no easy feat as it must compete with sales leading crossover utility vehicles, even ones that promote sporty editions with gobs of horsepower. For those who still respect the sedan, the Audi S3 makes a convincing case for enthusiasts and even lighthearted enthusiasts who don’t need the extra space. With a sharp design that looks better than most out there, the S3 is a compiling package that performs excellent from its somewhat heavy steering rack to the assured feeling of its rigid chassis and all-wheel-drive.
The turbocharged engine in the S3 is a wonderful expression of sport but somewhat retained for putting its luxury side out there to shine without overdoing anything. There’s nothing that feels cheap about the S3 even as an entry-level luxury sports sedan. There’s a lot in the smallish package in an upgraded 12.3-inch virtual cockpit configurable digital gauge cluster as part of the optional Prestige Package, and a 10.1-inch MMI (Multi Media Interface) touchscreen infotainment system both acting as the main focal points of the interior. Inside you’ll find a nice fit and finish of the dashboard with soft-touch surfaces in just the right places for a premium luxury-like theme. The S3’s interior nicely integrates physical controls for the automatic dual-zone climate control but has most of its other menus and vehicle settings buried in menu sets through the central touchscreen. Burying some of those features requires a slight learning curve on mastering the MMI system. The screen is nicely integrated into the dash and has large enough icons and touch areas for icons and features to avoid distraction from the road.
Also, part of the Prestige Package on my S3 test vehicle are the highlights of a remarkable-sounding Bang & Olufsen sound system, color heads-up display, traffic sign recognition, wireless phone charging pad, memory driver’s seat, navigation plus, active lane assist, adaptive cruise assist, and the bright matrix-design LED headlights. Also equipped on my test vehicle is a black optic package adding the 19-inch wheels wrapped with summer tires that possibly made the ride quality a bit rougher mostly in the Dynamic drive mode that tighten the adaptive dampers, and black accents throughout the exterior that made the S3 look more menacing to complete its sporty attitude.
There’s a bevy of active safety features available on the new S3 with most of them being part of option packages. My loaded-up 2022 Audi S3 test vehicle includes just about every available package, which bundles up all the expected driver-assistance features and the highlights of lane departure warning with lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and blind-spot monitors.
In its loaded form, my 2022 Audi S3 Prestige Package test vehicle comes to a price of $57,440 including a $1,045 destination charge. The base price of the new Audi S3 Premium is $45,800.