Test Drive: 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus | The Daily Drive | Consumer Guide® The Daily Drive


Test Drive: 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus

2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus in Glacier White Metallic (a $595 option)

2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus

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-
Fuel Economy A-
Value 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 Guy B
Tall Guy B
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
Drive Wheels AWD

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


Quick Hits

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

More A3 price and availability information


John Biel

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.

Test Drive: 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus

After taking the 2021 model year off, Audi’s entry-level sedan is redesigned for 2022, gaining a host of new standard and optional features and sharper, more angular styling inside and out.

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.

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Audi A3

The A3 comes with a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit virtual gauge cluster and a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen as standard equipment. A novel “toggle-switch” gear selector takes the place of a traditional shift lever. We acclimated to the shifter easily, but were less enthused about the unusual touch-sensitive circular control pad for the audio system.

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.

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Audi A3

The A3’s front seats offer a fine blend of comfort and support, but the rear-seat space is tight, and the overall interior ambiance falls a bit shy of the upscale feel expected of a luxury-brand vehicle.

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.

Test Drive: 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus

Though it’s nicely finished, the A3’s trunk is one of the smallest in the premium compact car class: There’s just 10.9 cubic feet of cargo space.

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.

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Audi A3

The A3 still comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, but the powertrain gains a 48-volt mild-hybrid system for improved fuel economy. Though the horsepower rating drops to 201 hp (previous-generation A3 quattro models were rated at 228 hp) the engine still feels satisfyingly peppy. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional 18-inch wheels in place of the standard 17s.

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.)

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Audi A3

The new A3’s crisper styling is in keeping with Audi’s latest design themes.

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.

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Test Drive: 2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus

The redesigned Audi A3 delivers the expected upgrades in technology features and fuel economy, while continuing to offer the athletic, engaging driving character of its predecessors–but it doesn’t offer an indulgent luxury ambiance.

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2022 Audi A3 Premium Plus Gallery

(Click below for enlarged images)

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