Class: Premium Compact Car
Miles driven: 471
Fuel used: 16.5 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 28.5 mpg
|CG Report Card|
|Room and Comfort||C+|
|Power and Performance||B-|
|Fit and Finish||B-|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Engine Specs||201-hp 2.0L|
|Engine Type||Turbo 4-cylinder|
|Transmission||7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 28/36/31 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Fuel type: Regular gas
Base price: $35,900 (not including $1045 destination charge)
Options on test car: Glacier White Metallic paint ($595), Premium Plus Package ($3300), Black Optic Sport Package ($850), 18-inch Wheel Package ($800)
Price as tested: $42,490
The great: Athletic handling with respectable ride quality; impressive-for-the-class fuel economy; competitive starting prices
The good: Peppy acceleration; all-weather capability of AWD
The not so good: Some interior materials don’t look premium enough for a luxury-brand vehicle; small door openings; limited rear-seat passenger space; small trunk; engine note sounds a bit unsophisticated
Say this for the A3 that returns to the Audi lineup after a year’s sabbatical: It certainly is a car.
That’s the clear-cut part about Audi’s smallest 2022 sedan. What adjectives to assign it—if any—come a little harder to Consumer Guide editors after test driving an A3 40 with quattro all-wheel drive. Redesigned on a slightly larger platform, the A3, sportier S3, and coming high-performance RS3 all make power gains—except for the version CG drove. The interior layout is new, with some dramatic changes in looks and packaging, but not as plush as might be expected from a premium brand.
Ours had midlevel Premium Plus equipment at a starting price of $40,245 (including delivery) and a total cost, with individual options, of $42,490. As a practical matter, Audi treats the two trim levels above base Premium more or less like option packages. The $3300 Premium Plus group added the following:
- auto-dimming power-fold exterior mirrors
- LED headlights
- adaptive cruise assist with lane guidance
- active lane-keeping assist
- blind-spot and rear cross-traffic assists
- parking-assist steering guidance
- Audi Advanced Key keyless access
- alarm system with motion sensor
- wireless charging
- auto-dimming interior mirror with built-in compass
- HomeLink garage-door opener
- driver’s seat memory function
- leatherette-covered door armrests
- SiriusXM 360L satellite radio
The tab for our tester was rounded out with Glacier White metallic paint, 18-inch alloy wheels, and Black Optic Sport Package with black exterior trim and a sport suspension that lowers ride height by 0.6 inch.
A3 power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, a powerplant newly assisted by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. In front-wheel-drive A3s that amounts to a 17-horsepower gain from 2020—but for quattro cars (which cost $2000 more) that registers as a 17-horse decline. Nonetheless, Audi claims a quattro A3 will go from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, 0.3 second faster than a front-driver.
There’s easily enough power for decent standing-start getaway and comfortable highway cruising, and moving drive modes from “Comfort” to “Dynamic” (“Auto” and “Individual” are the others) puts a little more starch in acceleration by delaying upshifts from the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. No matter the mode, though, the engine sounds out an unsophisticated retort when pushed. Plus, one CGer considered transmission operation to be a little rough in downshifts as the car slowed in traffic. Stop/start performance from the 48-volt motor generator is fairly well behaved. EPA ratings for fuel economy come out to 28 mpg in the city, 36 mpg on the highway, and 31 combined, but this reviewer got just 27.5 mpg from a 101.1-mile stint with 48 percent city-style driving.
As for ride and handling, both are performance high points. The suspension is barely perturbed by anything less than a genuine post-winter Chicago pothole, keeping passengers well treated. The speed-dependent power assist for the electromechanical steering makes the car feel easily controllable, even in the relatively loose Comfort setting. (There’s a little more weight in Dynamic without seeming artificially heavy.) Cornering forces are controlled well.
The new dash layout comes with a 10.1-inch Audi MMI infotainment touchscreen integrated into the panel—farewell to the stand-up “tablet” of the previous model. Blissfully devoid of tap-and-twist shenanigans carried out through a remote console controller, the screen was fairly easy to navigate, with audio settings arrived at intuitively. Infotainment features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Controls for the 3-zone climate system sited below the screen consist of a row of toggle switches—we miss the former dials. Below them, and a long reach away, are buttons for drive-mode selection and the various electronic driver-assistance systems. The test car lacked the 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit instrument display and navigation. To get them requires adding the Technology Package option or stepping up to the Prestige trim level.
For as fresh as the new instrument panel, console, and doors make the interior look, the materials on and around them temper the ambiance. There’s a bit of sponginess to the upper lip of the dash and the hood over the driving instruments, and some padding to the door armrests and top of the console box. However, all door tops are unyielding plastic, albeit with a “soft-touch” surface coating. The console is also made of hard plastic. Areas of what looks like satiny metal atop the console and across the dash are actually plastic. The genuine seat leather almost feels artificial.
The A3 compensates for this somewhat with certain standard luxury and safety features. Heated front seats also have 8-way power adjustment and 4-way power lumbar supports. A panoramic sunroof is overhead. Forward-collision alert and mitigation and lane-departure warning are built in, too.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, passenger space isn’t a cup that runneth over in a car with a 103.5-inch wheelbase. This 5-foot-10.5 reviewer had acceptable room behind the wheel. When he sat behind the driver’s seat as set up for himself, there was just enough knees-up legroom for comfort—and headroom was limited. (Headroom drops off by 2.2 inches from front row to back.)
Cabin storage space relies on a good-sized glovebox, a tiny cubby under the console armrest, a pull-out drawer to the left of the steering column, and net pouches on the backs of the front seats. A tray at the front of the console holds the wireless charger and two USB ports. Pockets with bottle holders are in all four doors and exposed twin cup holders reside in the console and pull-down rear armrest. The trunk holds 10.9 cubic feet of cargo. The middle section of the retracting 40/20/40 rear seat allows for the pass-through of long objects. Seat sections fold almost flat and with no break from the trunk floor.
Put them all together and these parts add up to a car. The A3 is priced competitively for its class but most others with similar-sized engines boast more power and some present slightly nicer surroundings within. Adjectives cost extra.
2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus Gallery
(Click below for enlarged images)
Steve & Johnnie’s Road Tests
- 30+ mpg
- Best Buys
- Big & Tall Friendly
- Brands and Marketing
- Car Care
- Car Spotter Challenge
- Classic Car Ads
- Classic Cars
- Commercial Vehicles
- Concept Cars
- Cool Things
- Electric Vehicles
- Favorite Car Ads
- First Look
- First Spin
- Forgotten Concept
- Fuel Economy
- Future Cars
- Future Collectibles
- Green Technology
- Industry News
- Luxury Vehicles
- Models and Toys
- Money Matters
- Muscle Cars
- Pickup Trucks
- Plug-in Hybrids
- Police/Law Enforcement
- Quick Look
- Review Flashback!
- Sporty/Performance Cars
- Station Wagons
- Steve & Johnnie's Road Tests
- Test Drive
- TV and Movie Cars
- Vehicles That Nearly Were
- Winter Driving
- Alfa Romeo
- Aston Martin
- Land Rover