DENVER – If you’re shopping for a new vehicle, odds are it’s an SUV or pickup, not a sedan nor a sports car. Those last two categories are seeing their sales shrivel faster than American civility. And yet these are the vehicles that provide the most pleasure, especially one with talents that cut across both the sedan and sports car categories, like 2022 Audi A3. It’s a marvelous new sports sedan, far more fun to drive than any dull old crossover.
Of course, there are any number of sports sedans to choose from, including the BMW 2 Series, Lexus IS, Genesis G70, Cadillac CT4, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA-Class, Acura ILX and forthcoming Integra, among others. There are a number of compelling competitors in this group of entry-luxury compact sedans. Does the Audi A3 hold its own? You bet.
The A3 is Audi’s smallest sedan in the U.S. market, but for 2022, it now offers much of technology now available on the larger A4 and A6 sedans, and now shares its sibling’s style as well. For 2022, the A3 has also grown 1.4 inches longer, 0.8 inches wider and 0.5 inches taller. It now wears a taut, sporty look, with aggressive hood sculpting, sharper side shapes, a large assertive grille and available matrix-design LED headlights. An optional Black Optics Package adds the requisite murdered out styling touches, should you require them. Certainly, the test vehicle has the look of a great sports sedan.
The front-wheel drive 2022 A3 is in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim. Quattro all-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. Sold here exclusively as a sedan, it’s offered as a hatchback in other markets.
Power comes from with a 2.0-liter turbocharged aluminum-alloy double-overhead-cam four-cylinder engine mated to a 48-volt mild-hybrid system and rated at 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque through a seven-speed duel clutch automatic transmission. Audi offers a more powerful version of the same driveline in the A3’s sportier variant, the S3, rated at 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Most drivers will find the A3 a satisfying option, particularly since the S3 will cost at least an extra 10 grand. Besides, fuel economy is quite good, with the EPA estimating 29 mpg city, 38 mpg highway, and 32 mpg combined. Yet it doesn’t come at the expense of performance. This is still a speedy sled; reaching 60 mph from a stop takes 6.6 seconds with front-wheel drive, 6.3 seconds with Quattro.
On a drive through the Colorado mountains, the A3 offered strong acceleration, stronger than its number suggest. The dual-clutch transmission is controlled by a toggle switch in the center console, along with paddle shifters on the steering wheel that provide manual shifting. Should you indulge, you’ll find its performance to be lightning quick, although transmission performance is excellent even when left to its own devices.
The car is well balanced and responsively sharp with well-controlled body motions and strong brakes. Its performance lends drivers a feeling of confidence. But the A3 is still a sports sedan, something you’ll be reminded of when traversing rough pavement. That said, the ride is never harsh.
If you’re looking for a lot of standard driver-assistance safety systems on your A3, few items come standard. All models have Audi Pre Sense, high beam assist, lane departure warning and a rearview camera. But other features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, exit warning, lane guidance and parking assist are optional.
The A3’s cabin is a paragon of modern refinement, with an angular design to the instrument panel that’s interesting and contemporary. A 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster are standard. The latter can be configured to display a large map or various bits of information. Buyers can also opt for a larger 12.3-inch center screen. A power panoramic sunroof, leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, LED vanity mirrors, split-folding 40/20/40 rear seatbacks, and a rearview camera are standard.
As you’d expect, front seat leg room is good, but rear seat leg room is dependent on the kindness of front seat occupants. While comfort and support are exemplary, the driver’s right leg rests against the hard center console, which would benefit from padding.