DENVER — If there’s a automotive that finest embodies a scrappy, tenacious, little pet, it’d be the brand new 2022 Audi A3 and S3. And sure, the A3 is generally simply bark on account of its snarly (in a great way) appears to be like, however the S3 brings a correct chunk with its performance-minded dealing with and acceleration.
It’s excessive time Audi handled us to a brand new A3/S3 pair, too, because the outgoing vehicles have been totally swallowed up by a brand new discipline of tiny luxurious sedans which might be additionally each nice to have a look at and nice to drive. We’re positive you’re aching to listen to concerning the soon-to-come RS 3, too, however be affected person. That five-cylinder firecracker is coming subsequent summer season.
Within the meantime, let’s begin with the fundamental A3 that’s already at sellers and ready for you at a $34,945 base worth. Audi largely stored the identical, fundamental components as we’ve seen for the previous seven years. The 2022 automotive is on the market as a sedan solely within the U.S. — Europe carries on with the Sportback (hatchback) — and you may get both front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive. The seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission carries over for each variations. One notable distinction this time round is that the FWD and AWD fashions are created equal with the identical energy output from Audi’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Earlier than, the all-wheel-drive mannequin had a major, 44-horsepower distinction. As an alternative of simply upping the facility to the 228 horses of the previous A3 all-wheel-drive, Audi cut up the distinction between the AWD and FWD fashions with an engine placing out 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque for 2022.
There’s a technique to the insanity past an apparent stoop in energy, as Audi says it centered on gas economic system for the brand new A3’s powertrain. That’s why it’s additionally that includes a brand new 48-volt mild-hybrid system. Mix the extra environment friendly powertrain with tremendously improved aerodynamics (it went from a 0.33 Cd to a 0.26), and also you’re left with a automotive that gives about 23% higher gas economic system throughout the board than earlier than. The brand new Quattro automotive achieves 31 mpg mixed, whereas the outgoing automotive might solely muster 25 mpg mixed. Audi says the mild-hybrid system may even present a brief energy increase of 12 horsepower and 37 pound-feet of torque on the preliminary shove off the road. We’re tremendous impressed with the beginning/cease system that comes alongside for the trip, too, as it’d simply be the smoothest on any new automotive at this time.
Design is huge on this phase of plucky luxurious vehicles, and Audi determined to make its new A3 stand out by giving it the honeycomb grille we’re accustomed to seeing on Audi RS fashions. Aggressive sculpting of the hood, and powerful fenders enhance the impact of it trying like a canine able to pounce on unsuspecting prey. No person shall be mistaking it for the flowy, easy Mercedes-Benz CLA.
Audi retains the power degree at that peak while you climb into the A3’s inside, too. It’s that includes a lot of firsts for Audi inside design, which is a mixture of intriguing and, nicely, simply dangerous. Anyone who needs they lived in a laser-filled Cyberpunk future will really feel proper at residence. Two air vent modules flank the instrument cluster like pods floating in area. The sharp, slanting edges proceed, tracing semi-coherent traces throughout the sprint in an ostentatious method. The inside door handles look like the other way up versus the same old orientation. And Audi’s chunky gear lever is gone in favor of the identical beard trimmer-style shifter nub seen on the 911 and new GTI/Golf R.
Simply forward of the little shifter is our least favourite characteristic of this new inside: the quantity scroll thingy. As an alternative of the attractive, clicky quantity knob that additionally served triple obligation because the final/subsequent monitor management and on/off change, the A3 now has a flush contact haptic “button” hooked up to the flat floor of the middle console that you simply twirl your finger round to show the quantity up and down. It’s the definition of change for change’s sake, and it is positively harder than the previous console-mounted quantity knob — good luck discovering the pad and getting your finger positioned correctly within the circle to be learn as an enter whereas transferring. Sure, Audi has a handy-dandy quantity scroll wheel on the steering wheel that works wonders and means that you can ignore this “innovation,” however such a factor needs to be a useful redundancy not a mandatory work-around.
In relation to utility, this A3 is just a little higher than the final, as a result of it’s just a little bit greater in each path — 1.4 inches longer, 0.8 inch wider, and 0.5 inch taller. Audi identified that the A3 is mainly so long as the A4 was when it launched right here within the Nineties, so there’s some historic context for you. Sitting within the again seat is just not a difficulty for legs, although taller of us (above 5-foot-10) shall be brushing the ceiling with their noggins. Trunk area is common for a compact luxurious automotive at 10.9 cubic toes, although the S3 is worse at 8.3 cubes. Each numbers are poor in comparison with non-luxury compact vehicles.
The bones of this A3 and S3 are nonetheless based mostly on the identical MQB Evo platform as the brand new Golf GTI, so we anticipated a dynamic efficiency on the Rocky Mountain canyon roads Audi put us on for this primary drive. We began the day in an A3, and loved a cushty, moderately quiet freeway stint earlier than ducking into the mountains. The A3’s chassis instantly confirmed its base-level competence, and we do imply base, as our take a look at automotive was not fitted with the A3’s non-compulsory Sport suspension (passive and stuck) that lowers the automotive by 15 mm (0.6 inch) and stiffens issues up. It fortunately would not exhibit the anticipated, front-heavy Audi dealing with habits when the highway turns twisty. Popping it into “Dynamic” mode unlocks heavier-but-numb steering and a perkier throttle and transmission.
If the A3 is dynamically let down anyplace, it’s underneath the hood. The engine’s be aware is way from sleek because it churns and winds its means into the higher rev ranges. You want it to get the three,494-pound automotive up to the mark at elevation — Audi claims a 6.3-second 0-60 mph time with Quattro (a half-second slower than the earlier automotive), and that’s utilizing the surprisingly good launch management begin. Yeah, even the bottom A3 has launch management. Cool?
We didn’t care a lot for the A3’s transmission response in Guide mode (downshifts take eons versus the in any other case fast upshifts), so simply go away it within the auto sport shifting mode. Audi’s programming is a contact too fast to upshift between corners, nevertheless it’s proper extra occasions than it’s incorrect. Most A3 homeowners are probably going to be putzing across the metropolis or making their day by day commute, so its less-than-thrilling efficiency isn’t so horrible within the context of considerably higher gas effectivity. Audi made a alternative, and it selected excessive MPG.