Examined: 2022 Audi S3 Is Small, Sporty, Satisfying

Ever-greater numbers of drivers wish to trip up excessive and encompass themselves with extra sheetmetal. And but, as fans know, decrease, smaller cars are inherently extra responsive and rewarding. instance of that truism is the most recent Audi S3. Audi’s smallest and least costly S mannequin, the S3 skipped the 2021 mannequin 12 months however returns for 2022 boasting extra energy, sharper seems to be, and a reworked cabin.

In distinction to the creeping gigantism of at present’s fleet, the shrink-to-fit S3 feels tidy and maneuverable—it is simply over an inch longer and fewer than an inch taller and wider than earlier than. The dimensions and packaging remind us of the well-regarded B5-generation Audi S4—which again within the Y2K period vanquished the BMW M3, the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG, and the Saab 9-3 Viggen in a comparability check.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

Right this moment, the S3 runs with the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, the Mercedes-AMG CLA35 (the A35 has been dropped), and the Cadillac CT4-V. The final time we gathered that crew collectively, the Audi wasn’t obtainable, and the Cadillac ran away with a victory. However the Caddy has a built-in benefit with its longitudinal engine and rear-wheel-drive structure. The S3 is extra carefully matched with the BMW and Mercedes choices.

HIGHS: Sharply dressed, energetic acceleration, compliant trip.

We’re followers of the S3’s well-proportioned styling, which stands in distinction to Mercedes and BMW’s barely awkwardly small sports activities sedans. Credit score, maybe, Audi’s lengthy expertise designing for front-wheel-drive platforms (the S3 rides on the VW Group’s MQB structure). The Audi’s new look is edgier with boxed fender blisters which might be a nod to the unique Audi Quattro coupe, 18- or 19-inch wheels, and a widened hex-shaped grille.

Regardless of being the least costly Audi to put on an S badge, the S3 is a lot fast. The mannequin now wrings 306 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4, an 18-hp enchancment over the past S3 and greater than 50 p.c higher than the A3. And 295 pound-feet of torque are on faucet from 3000 rpm, one other hefty enhance over the A3, which has 221. Thus fortified, the S3 rips to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds (down from 4.5 beforehand). It additionally dispatches the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 108 mph. These numbers put the S3 in a digital useless warmth with the BMW, Mercedes, and Cadillac.

All-wheel drive is customary right here, which helps put the facility down and hold torque steer at bay. As soon as once more, the engine mates with a seven-speed dual-clutch computerized, and it delivers snappy shifts and clean, lurch-free engagement at low speeds. In Dynamic mode, the engine emits a characterful exhaust observe fairly in contrast to the standard bleating of a direct-injected 4. This comes courtesy of a “soundaktor,” a firewall-mounted speaker that amplifies the engine’s sound.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

LOWS: Cosy rear seat, infotainment annoyances, pales subsequent to the VW Golf R.

The extra highly effective 2.0-liter additionally notches higher EPA numbers than its predecessor: 23/32 mpg metropolis/freeway (matching the segment-leading M235i), up from 22/29 mpg. And in our 75-mph freeway fuel-economy check, the S3 hit the mark, returning 32 mpg. Yet one more bonus afforded by compact sports activities sedans.

The S3 comes customary with a sport suspension that has a 0.6-inch-lower trip peak than the A3. Our check automotive added adaptive dampers, a part of the $1100 S Sport package deal. They make for a large efficiency band, stiffening up considerably in Dynamic mode and delivering spectacular compliance in Consolation. Even on the bigger, 19-inch wheels wrapped with low-profile Bridgestone Potenza S005 summer time tires, trip high quality is much better than the flinty trip discovered within the BMW and Mercedes choices—and marginally higher than the S3’s platform-mate, the Volkswagen Golf R.

Michael SimariAutomobile and Driver

Ah, however the Golf R provides a torque-vectoring rear differential that helps it obtain exceptional steadiness when cornering—the S3 is lacking that trick rear {hardware} and understeers resolutely on the observe. Nonetheless, it hangs on for 0.96 g of grip, and pushed briskly on public roads, the S3 is responsive and rewarding. Steering effort ranges are acceptable regardless of the drive mode: neither too heavy in Dynamic nor too gentle in Consolation. Though not notably tactile, the helm is reassuringly progressive, and its precision imparts confidence that we discovered a lot welcome when passing lane-weaving dawdlers on New York’s slim and winding Taconic Parkway. The S3 is also fitted with bigger brake rotors that hauled the automotive down from 70 mph in a tidy 151 ft.

The driving place is great, and the S3’s high-back bucket seats do a superb job of holding you in place with out being confining, though the headrests usually are not adjustable. In again, it is a pretty cosy match, though a six-footer can squeeze in behind a similar-size driver.

The brand new S3 inside has plenty of gloss-black trim and a good bit of arduous plastic—the visible panache comes from the aggressively angular design theme and the a number of screens. We just like the extremely configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a part of the Know-how package deal (a ten.3-inch show is customary). The ten.1-inch central touchscreen isn’t solely bigger than the previous automotive’s however is now built-in into the sprint relatively than propped atop it like a billboard. The house display can present three capabilities directly, which is nice, however the interplay has some annoyances. The quantity knob has been changed by a console-mounted, iPod-style inset wheel (which additionally skips tracks). And the dearth of a tuning knob has us eager for the previous automotive’s rotary controller.

After gorging itself on the choices buffet, our check automotive’s $46,895 base worth swelled to $56,840. That beginning determine, although, is about the identical as a Golf R. The VW is extra highly effective, sharper dealing with, and affords a guide. Perhaps, although, you favor the S3’s upscale styling, superior trip, and fewer terrible driver interface. Both means, good(-driving) issues are available in small packages.


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Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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