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Audi A3 2022 review

EXPERT RATING
7
As much as any carmaker Audi has embraced the automotive world's push into SUVs. But it hasn't forgotten its sedan and hatch (Sportback) heritage. The new updated A3 fine tunes an already impressive package with cosmetic tweaks, extra safety, new engine tech, and revised interior layout. What's the catch? It costs more.

If it was the original BMW 3-Series that invented the compact luxury car market segment all those years ago, then it’s probably fair to claim it was Audi’s A3 franchise that gave rise to the luxury small-hatch category.

On that basis, any new Audi A3 is news but, in the face of the SUV onslaught (including its own stablemate the Q3) the new small Audi has its work cut out for it.

With this update, there’s refreshed styling, a new interior layout and, for the launch of the new cars, two body styles, a conventionally styled sedan and what Audi calls the Sportback; fundamentally a five-door hatchback but with the German brand’s own flair plastered all over it.

As well as new connectivity and safety tech, the big news is the availability of a mild-hybrid driveline as well as a second powertrain option with more performance from a more conventional layout.

Interestingly, it’s that (mild) hybrid version of the A3 that represents the entry-level variant of the A3. A sign of the times? Perhaps.

As well as the two powertrains, there are two distinct chassis layouts, starting with a front-drive set-up and extending to the option of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Audi A3 2022: 35 Tfsi Mhev
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency4.9L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$44,770

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

These are not bargain basement cars, and with a kick-off price of $46,900 for the A3 35 TFSI Sportback (the hatch version) and $49,400 for the sedan in the same specification, that much is obvious.

The fact is, both the new A3 variants represent a fair mark-up on the previous model. But if you look at the post-Covid car market in a macro sense, you can see the same trend across a lot of brands and a lot of previously entry-level models.

Ante up to the 40 TFSI, and the news is no different with an asking price of $53,500 (Sportback) and $56,000 (sedan).

The A3 is loaded with some impressive standard kit, including LED headlights. (40 TFSI pictured) The A3 is loaded with some impressive standard kit, including LED headlights. (40 TFSI pictured)

If the price sounds steep on a per-kilo basis, you need to remember this is an Audi we’re talking about and that price premium is part and parcel of a prestige badge. Don’t like it? Go and buy a VW Golf. That’d be Audi’s advice, anyway.

To justify that viewpoint, the A3 is loaded with some impressive standard kit. The 35 TFSI starts things off with Audi’s vaunted 'Virtual Cockpit', wireless phone charging, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, remote central locking, paddle shifters, park-assist, sat-nav, a 10.1-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, a multi-function steering wheel, automatic lights and wipers, digital radio, cruise-control and dual-zone climate control.

The 40 TFSI adds a range of aluminium trim pieces and garnishes, Audi’s 'Drive Select' system which allows the driver to choose the characteristic of the dampers, steering response, exhaust sound, throttle response and transmission shift points.

The 40 TFSI adds a range of aluminium trim pieces and garnishes. The 40 TFSI adds a range of aluminium trim pieces and garnishes.

The 40 TFSI also adds sportier front seats, a rear spoiler, body kit, extra courtesy lights around the car and details such as a 12-volt socket in the luggage area.

Options on the base model include a 'Comfort Pack' consisting of adaptive cruise-control, electric front seats, heated front seats, auto dimming headlights, heated and folding mirrors, four-way electric lumbar control and 'Adaptive Drive Assist', including 'Emergency Assist.'

That will set you back $2600, while the 40 TFSI can be enhanced with Audi’s 'Premium Package' which adds those same items as well as aluminium-look trim pieces, a better sound system, head-up instrument display and a memory function for the driver’s seat. That adds $4500 to either the 40 TFSI Sportback or sedan.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   6/10

It’s actually refreshing in 2022 to see a carmaker putting such an effort into something that isn’t an SUV.

That Audi has bothered with two distinct bodies and two equally distinct drivelines is also one for the books, really.

The digital instruments, allow the driver to tailor the information displayed at any given time. The digital instruments, allow the driver to tailor the information displayed at any given time.

Technically, the mild-hybrid driveline as seen in larger Audis in recent years is probably the highlight of the new A3, and even though it doesn’t compare with a conventional petrol-electric hybrid, it demonstrates Audi’s attention to detail.

The same goes for the digital instruments which allows the driver to tailor the information displayed at any given time. Need a city map more than you need a tachometer at a particular point in you journey? That’s where this technology comes into its own.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

Although it’s a compact car externally, clever packaging means there’s ample space inside. Even a tall-ish rear-seat passenger can sit behind a tall-ish driver, and the sculpted rear seat-backs help make that possible.

  • 2022 Audi A3 I Seats 2022 Audi A3 I Seats
  • 2022 Audi A3 I Seats 2022 Audi A3 I Seats

The only complaint would be that the dark headlining material makes the interior a bit of a cave at times.

Paying more for the 40 TFSI gets you extra cargo nets on the front seat backrests and luggage area, 12-volt sockets in the rear seat and boot. Both versions get floor mats and a centre arm-rest front and rear.

  • 2022 Audi A3 I Boot 2022 Audi A3 I Boot
  • 2022 Audi A3 I Boot 2022 Audi A3 I Boot
  • 2022 Audi A3 I Boot 2022 Audi A3 I Boot
  • 2022 Audi A3 I Boot 2022 Audi A3 I Boot
 

The rear seat in either is split 40/20/40 for a range of possibilities, with the Sportback offering 325 litres (VDA) for the Sportback quattro models, and 380L (VDA) for the 2WD models and its boot capacity is increased to 1145L (VDA) with the rear seat folded flat. The luggage space in the sedan is 390L (VDA) for the quattro AWD version, and a more capacious 425L (VDA) for the FWD model.

 

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

While both versions of the A3 use a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (no manual gearbox will be offered) there’s not a lot of commonality beyond that.

So let’s start with the 35 TFSI’s mild-hybrid running gear. To begin with, mild-hybrid in this sense refers to a starter motor/alternator unit that is linked to a 48-volt battery (the car also has a conventional 12-volt electrical system).

When coasting, the engine can shut off and the starter switches to alternator mode and harvests the otherwise lost energy to charge the 48-volt battery. This 48-volt system also powers the car’s functions when the engine is switched off.

When the car needs to restart (when the traffic-light goes green) the starter kicks in, using that harvested voltage. There’s also a regenerative braking function, saving the car’s actual brakes for more severe stops.

Unlike a 'normal' hybrid system, there’s no electric motor to help drive the car, but Audi claims a potential fuel saving of 0.4 litres per 100km from the set-up. Any benefit will be most noticeable in urban running where the car is speeding up and slowing down regularly.

The 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine featuring cylinder-on-demand where it can shut down individual cylinders during cruise conditions to save fuel. The 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine featuring cylinder-on-demand where it can shut down individual cylinders during cruise conditions to save fuel.

The rest of the 35 TFSI is technically interesting, too, with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine featuring cylinder-on-demand where it can shut down individual cylinders during cruise conditions to save fuel.

When firing on all four, however, the engine is good for 110kW of power and 250Nm of torque, figures which have become almost an industry standard in this sized vehicle.

The 40 TFSI, meanwhile, ditches the hybrid gear for a conventional 2.0-litre powerplant with a turbocharger and 140kW of power. Torque is a handy 320Nm and is developed over a wide range of engine speeds (anywhere from 1500 to 4100rpm).

Torque is a handy 320Nm and is developed over a wide range of engine speeds, anywhere from 1500 to 4100rpm. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured) Torque is a handy 320Nm and is developed over a wide range of engine speeds, anywhere from 1500 to 4100rpm. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured)

The other big difference is in the driveline. The 35 TFSI is a front-wheel drive platform while the 40 TFSI uses Audi’s Quattro AWD as it applies to Audis with an east-west engine layout.

That means the car behaves as a front-drive vehicle until the electronics decides more power should be sent to the rear wheels. At that point, anything up to 99 per cent of the available torque can be transferred rearwards via an electronically-controlled multi-plate clutch housed at the rear of the car, just in front of the rear axle.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

With all its cylinder shut-off, hybrid tricks and small capacity, the 1.5-litre engine boasts a 5.0 litres per 100km combined cycle fuel economy figure.

Combined with its 50-litre tank, that’s a potential for 1000km between service-station visits. It’s also commendably close to the numbers you’d expect from a similarly sized vehicle with a turbo-diesel engine.

The more conventional 2.0-litre A3 variant, meanwhile, boasts a still-credible 6.7 litres per 100km for the same test. To counter its greater thirst, Audi has fitted a slightly bigger, 55-litre fuel tank.

Combined with its 50-litre tank, that’s a potential for 1000km between service-station visits. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured) Combined with its 50-litre tank, that’s a potential for 1000km between service-station visits. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured)

The headline act, of course, is the base-model’s highway figure which, thanks to the small capacity engine and its reduced pumping losses at small throttle-openings, can get right down into the low-fives (5.0 litres per 100km) in the real world at real highway speeds.

With a tail-wind, you might even see a number starting with four. This is why you don’t need a diesel engine any longer.

Expect the 40 TFSI to use roughly a litre more across every 100km travelled. And in either case, you are stuck with paying for 95-RON premium unleaded.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Possibly the headline (no pun intended) act here is the inclusion of a centre-front airbag. This is something we’ll be seeing a lot more of in the future, particularly in compact cars, where the proximity of the front-seat passengers can lead to head clashes in a side-impact crash.

Beyond that, the Audi has six airbags including side-curtain airbags.

In terms of driver aids, the A3 sets a high bar for its competitors, and with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert, lane-departure assist and a rear-view camera, most bases are covered.

The A3 sets a high bar for its competitors, and with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert, lane-departure assist and a rear-view camera, most bases are covered. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured) The A3 sets a high bar for its competitors, and with autonomous emergency braking including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, rear-cross-traffic alert, lane-departure assist and a rear-view camera, most bases are covered. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured)

The major omissions are adaptive cruise-control, but that’s available in the 35 TFSI as part of the $2600 Comfort Package, and in the 40 TFSI as part of the $4500 Premium Package.

Yes, the Premium Package also includes heated, memory front seats, a head-up display, improved stereo and the multi-coloured ambient interior lighting (and more) but it does seem strange that it costs more to option up to adaptive cruise in the 40 TFSI than in the base-model.

The A3 scored the full five stars in ANCAP crash testing in 2020.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Audi recently improved its factory warranty from three years to five years and unlimited kilometres. Any new Audi (including this one) sold after January 1 this year is the beneficiary of that change.

Audi specifies service intervals of 15,000km or 13 months.

There’s also the option of a fixed-price servicing program for the first five years of A3 ownership, and that will cost you $2250, for an annual average of $450.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

Let’s start with the less powerful 35 TFSI, if only because - even though we know better in 2022 - there’s a temptation to think a 1.5-litre engine will be underdone. The reality, however, is that you’re not going to drive this car and judge it as anything other than very resolved.

While it’s true the peak power of 110kW isn’t startling, it’s the way it’s delivered (along with the 250Nm of torque) that sets the mood here.

Like many late-model Audis, this one has an engine with a fizzy, zingy feel that makes you want to rev it just to hear and feel it. And when you do, it pays off with plenty of flexibility and a sophisticated, refined feel.

While it’s true the peak power of 110kW isn’t startling, it’s the way it’s delivered (along with the 250Nm of torque) that sets the mood here. (Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI pictured) While it’s true the peak power of 110kW isn’t startling, it’s the way it’s delivered (along with the 250Nm of torque) that sets the mood here. (Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI pictured)

Whether the mild hybrid driveline is adding anything to the formula is debatable, because the technology is so seamless you won’t pick what it’s doing other than the engine stop-start function, which is one of the better ones we’ve sampled.

Move from the 35 into the 40 TFSI and you immediately notice the extra power and torque on tap. And although it’s still not a hot-hatch by modern standards, there’s always enough urge to make the 40 TFSI a convincing driver’s car.

Again, the power delivery is the key to it all, making more of what the engine has to offer by actively encouraging you to use it. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is your friend here.

The extra driveline functionality of the 40 (namely the AWD system) actually means less than you might imagine in day-to-day life. We didn’t get to drive the car in the wet, but it’s fair to say that those conditions (or a loose, gravel road) are really the only ones likely to make a difference to the way the basic platform feels.

The extra driveline functionality of the 40 (namely the AWD system) actually means less than you might imagine in day-to-day life. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured) The extra driveline functionality of the 40 (namely the AWD system) actually means less than you might imagine in day-to-day life. (Audi A3 40 TFSI pictured)

That’s for two reasons; the first being the all-wheel-drive is fundamentally on demand anyway and, secondly, the basic platform is so composed and balanced in the first place, that the Quattro system will spend a lot of its time hiding in the background.

The 40 TFSI also get the selectable drive modes which break with tradition by actually making a difference to the way the car feels.

But the reality is that if you took the best bits of every other setting (Comfort, Dynamic and Efficiency) and loaded them into the Individual button, you’d probably wind up with something very close to what the non-adjustable 35 TFSI offers in the first place.

You have to admire the way Audi has made a front-drive car in the A3 steer, handle and talk to the driver in such a clear, precise way.

Yes, the 40’s selectable modes add another layer to that, but only if you can be bothered. Even more than that, the A3 in either form feels like its ultra-stable and safe, while the levels of feel and feedback give the impression they were decided upon by people who enjoy driving.

Verdict

Producing a car that takes the end result beyond appliance status is no given in a world car-park dominated by SUVs. But Audi has, over the last few decades, shown it is very good at doing just that and the latest incarnation of its A3 stalwart backs that up.

While it might take a bit of mental gymnastics to understand why the base model gets the hybrid driveline, or why the more expensive variant costs more to option with adaptive cruise-control, the fact remains these are driver’s cars from a company that understands that concept.

Yes, the A3 is a relatively expensive way to arrive at a compact hatch or sedan, but if you value the journey as much as the destination, it will all make sense.

While the technical aspects of the 35 TFSI are interesting, the extra power and all-weather grip of the AWD 40 TFSI seem to be worth the additional dollars to us. The A3 has always been a sporty alternative, meaning the sportiest version is the one for us.

CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with meals provided.

Pricing guides

$43,880
Based on 53 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$34,377
Highest Price
$48,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
35 Tfsi Mhev 1.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $44,770 – 52,030 2022 Audi A3 2022 35 Tfsi Mhev Pricing and Specs
35 Tfsi Mhev 1.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $41,910 – 49,280 2022 Audi A3 2022 35 Tfsi Mhev Pricing and Specs
40 Tfsi Quattro S Line 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $48,950 – 56,320 2022 Audi A3 2022 40 Tfsi Quattro S Line Pricing and Specs
40 Tfsi Quattro S Line 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $51,260 – 58,960 2022 Audi A3 2022 40 Tfsi Quattro S Line Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Price and features7
Design6
Practicality6
Under the bonnet7
Efficiency7
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving8
David Morley
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$34,377

Lowest price, based on 50 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.