Want More Luxe for the Buck? Sedans Should Get Your Attention: 2022 Audi A3 and Audi S3 First Drive  

Audi S3 Featured Image

I know you’re leaning toward the A3 sedan, but please, consider the S3. You won’t regret it.

You know those people who predicted the end of sedans? Well, they were wrong. And thankfully so. Sedans are a great option for people who love to drive or who want more luxury for the money. And for those who want to start their luxury journey with Audi, the A3 sedan is the place to start. 

The A3 sedan, along with the S3 sport sedan, has been redesigned for 2022 and includes some of Audi’s cutting edge technology (standard!), even more luxury features, some novel new designs and a zippier drive experience. Over all, buyers can find this compact sedan pretty nicely outfitted for under $40,000 and in the sport model, under $50,000 (though both can also add more luxuries that take the price up another few thousand dollars).

You can see more from our test drive in this video:

Related: Audi Q5 Sportback Luxury SUV Review: I’m in Love With the Shape of You

The Quilted Gray Leather Interior Of The Audi S3 Sedan

The quilted gray leather interior of the Audi S3 sedan. Photo: Scotty Reiss

An Interior Designed (Mainly) for You

Both the A3 and S3 have new interiors that reward the driver for choosing this car. The cabin is refined and less cluttered than the last model year, and it’s driver-focused in that all the screens and controls are oriented toward the driver, though yes, passengers can see the Multimedia Interface (or MMI as Audi calls it). 

One of the most novel changes is the toggle gear selector. Just tap it into gear and go. I really liked how it functioned, and I liked the look, too. There is also a very cool new radio volume control— a touch sensitive pad that allows you to simply swipe your finger around it to change the volume or tap it to change stations or turn it off. 

There are two USB-C ports up front and two in the rear for back seat passengers. And, leather seats with Alcantara accents, a quiet cabin and elegant dash and door trim give this sedan an overall refined feeling. It’s what you expect from Audi.

For a compact sedan, the cabin feels comfortable and airy. The frame of the A3 and S3 is slightly longer and wider than the last model year. A standard sunroof adds to this feeling; Audi calls it panoramic and while it’s larger than the standard sunroof that spans only the front seats, it doesn’t cover the entire roof.

Audi also maximized cabin space by opening up the center console with a small toggle gear selector, the touch sensitive radio control and phone cubby that holds an optional wireless phone charger pad; this cubby, which Audi calls this the Phone Box, connects your phone to the car’s antenna for an enhanced signal.

This driver-focused feeling continues with the media screens, which are not new but feature new functions: there are a 10.25 digital cockpit driver information display (and an enhanced 12.3” Virtual Cockpit Plus version in the S3 Premium Plus model) and a 10” MMI screen.

The system is elegant and intuitive and allows you to connect your phone wirelessly to access Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, which is also standard. This system is really well done, with a modern graphic look, including satellite image maps on the navigation system. It gives you much more the feeling of of looking at the road from both 10,000 feet as well as from the driver’s seat and it’s sublime. 

Related: The Audi Phone Box Will Amaze You. And it Comes With This Lovely Audi Q3 SUV Attached

Hey Audi Voice Assistant Hears Her Name And Is At Your Service

“Hey Audi” voice assistant hears her name and is at your service. Photo: Scotty Reiss

“Hey Audi” Voice Assistant Is At Your Service 

I really love this feature: just say “Hey, Audi” and the voice assistant responds, changing the cabin temperature, setting the radio station or finding your navigation destination. While it wasn’t able to complete every command on my short test drive, it was pretty good. Mostly I didn’t need to poke around on the MMI, I just had to ask for what I needed. And I really like that. This feature is part of the updated MMI and no doubt will get better with age and updates. As you get used to simply asking for what you want, the system will learn your voice and accent and you’ll get used to using it. Isn’t it nice to have future technology, right now?

Related: The 2020 Audi Q7 is the Red-Sole Shoe Delight of Luxury Cars

The Audi A3 With Parchment Interior

The Audi A3 with Parchment interior. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What’s New For 2022 

  • New headlights with LED daytime running lights 
  • Honeycomb grille, quieter ride, sportier new design including an optional black roof and a spoiler port exhaust tips on the S3 model, 
  • Slightly longer and wider than the last model 
  • Driver focused cabin with more digital tech, a standard 10” media screen, a new shifter and a cool new touch sensitive radio control dial
  • A “mild hybrid” system that recoups a bit of energy and saves fuel when coasting or idling, and gives a bit of boost on acceleration 
  • New sport suspension in the S model
  • Standard driver assist system includes pre-sense pre-collision sensing, high beam assist and lane departure warning; optional features include adaptive cruise, side assist with rear cross traffic, exit warning, lane guidance and park assist 
  • New parchment brown interior option in the A3
Despite Driving On Challenging Mountain Roads, The A3 Averaged 28 Mpg, Pretty Impressivedespite Driving On Challenging Mountain Roads, The A3 Averaged 28 Mpg, Pretty Impressive

Despite driving on challenging mountain roads, the A3 averaged 28 MPG – pretty impressive. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What This Car Costs: 

  • A3 Premium 4 cylinder turbo with 201 horsepower and 221 torque, a mild hybrid system that enhances efficiency with stop/start and “coasting” mode that saves fuel, Audi driver assist and safety features, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, lane departure warning, MMI with 10” screen and 10.25” digital driver information screen, heated front seats, 4 USB-c ports, starts at $33,900, 
  • Quattro all wheel drive adds $2,000
  • Add an alarm system, advanced smart key, side assist driver memory seats and park assist, $1,900
  • Add the sport package with black details including wheels, roof and sport suspension $1,650
  • Premium Plus adds adaptive cruise control, full LED headlights, leatherette door panels and arm rests, top view camera, wireless phone charging, starts at $37,200
  • Tech package adds enhanced navigation, which requires a subscription, virtual cockpit, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, traffic sign recognition for $2,250
  • Prestige, which adds wood accents, animation headlights and tail lights, head up display, ambient lighting and the technology package, starts at $41,200
  • The S3 Premium has a 4 cylinder turbo engine producing 306 horsepower and 295 torque, 18” wheels, run flat tires, quattro all wheel drive, leatherette door panels and arm rests, sport seats, LED head lights and tail lights, interior ambient lighting, MMI 10” media screen and digital driver information screen and park assist semi autonomous parking system, and starts at $44,900
  • The Convenience package with an alarm system, advanced smart key, side assist with rear cross traffic assist, power folding mirrors, driver memory seats adds $1,500
  • Wheels can be upgraded to 19” for $800
  • The Sport package with black roof, black wheel details and black exhaust tips adds $1,950
  • Premium plus adds adaptive cruise control, lane guidance, Audi phone box with wireless charging, convenience package
  • The Tech package adds navigation subscription option, virtual cockpit, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound, traffic sign recognition adds $2,250 
  • Nappa leather and carbon fiber details can be added for $1,250
The Steering Wheel On The S3, Compelete With S3 Badging

The steering wheel on the S3, compelete with S3 badging. Photo: Scotty Reiss

The Drive Experience: Gear Toggle and Paddle Shifters Put the Power in Your Hands

I had the chance to drive both the A3 and the S3 through the mountains of Colorado and was pleasantly surprised by both. While the A3 has more horsepower than the last model year, at 201, I didn’t expect it to feel as peppy as it did. It was strong and confident merging onto the highway and climbing hills; in dynamic mode—Audi’s name for sport mode—the suspension was a bit tighter and it delivered a bit of fun using the paddle shifters. 

The S3 model, with 306 horsepower, was even more fun to drive, a true sports sedan. Again, with paddle shifters, you can make your daily drive a bit more exciting, even in comfort mode. Press the button under the climate control panel to put it in dynamic and you’ll hear and feel the engine, both as you accelerate and as you downshift; you’ll hear the blip of rev matching as the engine speed spikes to match the transmission. It’s a pretty fun feeling, but not overly loud or obnoxious. 

But I also like that paddle shifters are standard. Of course, they are standard on a lot of cars, but the A2 and especially the S3 make this a great option. I really (really!) appreciated them on the curvy, hilly roads of central Colorado. 

And if you’re wondering what paddle shifters are all about, this is a great car to try them out in. As you’re driving on a fun road, simply pull the right paddle to up shift. You can’t stall out the way you can with a clutch and gear shift, but you can feel the engine’s power shift when you shift up, and when you downshift you’ll hear the blip of the engine.

Once you get the hang of it, you will find yourself taking certain roads so you can play. And that’s the point. And, when look at all features that you really need, like quattro all wheel drive and run flat tires, you’ll probably find that you should just take the plunge and go for the S3. You’re welcome. 


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Disclosure: I was Audi’s guest for this test drive; travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own. 

The Fleet Of Audi A3 Test Models, Ready To Drive

The fleet of Audi A3 test models, ready to drive. Photo: Scotty Reiss

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss