2022 Audi S3 Sedan - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A truly brilliant automobile
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
Audi offers 3 versions of the new-for-2022 S3 Sedan: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. With a base price of $44,900, the S3 is quite affordable for a German-designed and built premium product. However, as with most upper echelon offerings from Audi, the price escalates with each level of refinement. In the S3's case, the Premium version is priced at $46,995, while the mid-level Premium Plus retails for $48,995. The top echelon Prestige version we drove carried a bottom line of $57,440. When you order the $6,600 Prestige package, Audi bundles the following features into your S3: adaptive cruise assist, active lane assist, AUDI connect PLUS (with 6-month subscription), Navigation plus, virtual cockpit with 12.3-inch screen, auto-dimming mirrors inside and out, Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, SiriusXM 3-month subscription, traffic sign recognition, LED headlights, and wireless charging pad. Note that the adaptive cruise assist requires a renewal fee once the 6-month AUDI connect PLUS trial has expired.
Our strikingly lovely Navarra Blue Metallic S3 ($595 extra) also benefited from a "Black optic package" ($1,950) which installed 19 inch "double-spoke edge design wheels in bi-color finish" fitted with extra sticky (TW 240) Bridgestone S005 radials (235/35R19). Completing the 'black is the new black' look were charcoal exhaust tips and mirror housings plus myriad "High gloss black exterior elements." Inside the cabin, a $1,250 "Fine Nappa leather package" provides glove-soft leather seating surfaces tailored in a diamond stitched pattern that is identical to the sport seats in the factory hot rod RS3 Audi. Understated "carbon atlas structure inlays" lend a clean, business-like look to the cabin. Finally, $1,100 more brings you the most useful option group of the bunch, and a real bargain for the money: "Sport suspension with damper control and red brake calipers" which flash like beacons behind those black rims. Without question, the S3 done up like our test car is a show stopper in the looks department.
In the driving department, it was even better than that. Although not quite in the same league as the ultra-fast 400hp RS3, the 306hp S3 will hold its own against anything with 4 seats in a straight line, and walk away from the competition when the straights turn to curves. This all-wheel-drive (Quattro) family sedan will clear the quarter mile in a stunningly quick 12.9 seconds at 108mph from a standing start, plus post a 0-60mph time of 4.3 seconds. Quattro helps this vehicle launch with a vengeance, and the 7-speed S Tronic transmission proved hyper-quick on upshifts. It's not accidental that Audi includes a lap timer as part of the virtual cockpit instrumentation. To time laps, be sure to call up the "Dynamic" driving mode.
With the willing Bridgestones ready to romp, and the drive mode locked into Dynamic, the S3 is perfectly configured for race track duty. We especially commend Audi's commitment to driver mode choice: once you select "Dynamic" the S3 retains your choice every time you restart the car.
Like VW family member Porsche, Audi has unfortunately replaced a proper shift lever with a miniaturized surrogate that resembles a toggle switch. Several times over the week I spent with the S3 I found my right arm flailing in air while trying to locate this irritatingly small device. While Audi does provide a pair of cheap plastic steering wheel-mounted paddles, the toggle switch is a poor substitute for a proper shift mechanism. Thankfully, the rest of the console and control panel layout is better designed than the mimic shift. We liked the prominent location of the start/stop button, and the easily manipulated HVAC control panel which includes physical switches rather than the increasingly popular hologram notations. However, we could definitely have done without the "Traffic Sign Recognition" which is supposed to be a desirable addition to the Prestige package. In fact, this annoying totem blinks whenever you exceed a posted speed limit by even 1 mph, and remains illuminated (with a red exclamation mark) if you continue to transgress the speed limit. The next thing you know, it will be reporting your activity back to Audi and your insurance company.
Aside from the foregoing nitpicks, the S3 is a truly brilliant device that reveals just how much more fun it is to drive a well-crafted sports sedan than even the best handling SUV. If you want to bring limbo stick agility to your driving party while pretending to be a family sedan good citizen, go for the S3. It's a decision you won't regret.
2022 AUDI S3 SEDAN
• ENGINE: 2.0 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16 valves, intercooled and turbocharged, iron block and aluminum head
• HORSEPOWER: 306hp@5450rpm
• TORQUE: 295lb.-ft.@3000rpm
• FUEL CONSUMPTION: 23MPG City/32MPG Highway
• PRICE AS TESTED: $57,440
HYPES: Sensationally Quick and Competent
GRIPES: Toggle Switch Shift
STAR RATING: 9.5 Stars out of 10