2022 Audi S3 Street Take a look at Evaluation: Cute-sized efficiency


The Audi S3 has lengthy been an fanatic’s luxurious sedan various to the Volkswagen Golf R. These two have shared chassis, powertrains and driving dynamics, however all the time different broadly when it got here to pricing. Not is the Golf R its sole comparability, although, as others just like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe at the moment are right here to problem it. And regardless of its extra pure luxurious competitors being within the fold, that Golf R comparability is extra legitimate than ever, because the freshly redesigned S3, beginning at $46,925 with vacation spot, is priced almost identically to a Golf R.

With opponents knocking on the door from each which approach, it’s a superb factor that the S3 continues to be a small storm of a sedan to drive. The two.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes a powerful 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is sweet sufficient to crack off 4.5-second 0-60-mph instances utilizing the automobile’s launch management operate. This little bugger is fast, and it’s joyful to shout about it with the lively exhaust system. Put it in “Current” mode — sure, Audi is being well mannered about its exhaust mode setting names — and it crackles, pops and bangs on shifts like each different efficiency automobile out of Germany tends to do as of late. There’s nothing distinctive or notably particular in regards to the noise, but it surely’s certainly current. Onlookers won’t ever mistake it for an A3, and we’re going to depend that as some extent within the S3’s favor.

Within the realm of much less optimistic information, Audi’s latest downward pattern by way of inside luxurious hits the A3/S3 fashions, too. The design is certain to catch your consideration upon first look, however spend extra time with the supplies used all through the cabin, and also you’ll rapidly conclude that this S3 is of a decrease high quality than the outgoing one. For those who’re one who favors a Blade Runner-esque look to your inside, although, this S3 is for you. It’s all sharp edges and brutalism in model. Performance is shockingly good, excluding the perplexing contact quantity scroller that operates like an previous iPod Nano. The previous little knob was higher. Moreover that, Audi gives bodily, simply learn controls for the local weather and radio. It’s the direct reverse of a Golf R on this respect, which is one purpose why the S3 is so tempting. Making an attempt to function the Golf R’s irritating local weather/multimedia interface at evening may be all that is wanted to win you over to Audi’s facet.

Begin hustling an S3 down a twisty highway, although, and favor rapidly returns to the Golf R. That’s as a result of Audi doesn’t equip the S3 with the brand new torque-vectoring rear differential discovered on the Golf R. At Audi, this superior dealing with (and drifting) tech is reserved for the five-cylinder RS 3 — a disgrace, seeing that this new rear differential genuinely made the brand new Golf R way more enjoyable to drive than the earlier one.

As an alternative, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system does its job of quelling any trace of on-power understeer in corners, and accelerating you thru them with a great deal of momentum. Dial the adaptive dampers as much as their most aggressive setting, and the trip continues to be reasonably agreeable. It’s finest left in that setting if you would like essentially the most reactive and steady dealing with really feel down a meandering highway. 

The S3’s small dimension works within the automobile’s favor in relation to agility and ease of use, however the 3,538-pound curb weight is an excessive amount of to make it really feel small and tossable. This sedan’s weight is noticeable by corners, and it sadly comes with a dab of front-heaviness, not neutrality. The tire setup on the S3 isn’t huge, with 235-section-width rubber in any respect 4 corners while you spec the non-obligatory 19-inch wheels, however these summer time tires assist bail the automobile out in some circumstances. Even while you assume the chassis is somewhat overburdened, the S3 continues to be tenaciously gripping to the pavement.

Like many Audi merchandise of the “S” selection, the S3 shines in every day driving responsibility. The added efficiency you get doesn’t appear to hinder trip consolation in in the slightest degree, because the automobile plods over poor pavement with the convenience and isolation you’d count on from an A3. We can not say the identical for the CLA 35, as AMG takes efficiency a bit extra critically than Audi on this case. Even the loud exhaust could be switched to a whisper, reworking the S3 into a great commuter.

General utility is strong, with 35.2 inches of rear legroom, although the pretty massive S Sport seats do minimize into and crowd the area within the again. It’s near what you’d discover in a Golf R, however with out the tall roof overhead. In fact, the S3 trunk can’t compete with the Golf’s hatchback. It’s proper about now that we want Audi bought its Sportback model of the S3 and RS 3 right here, as a capacious hatchback is nearly all the time preferable over a small sedan in our eyes (although there could be some caveats).

However alas, we’re caught with the sedan, and regardless of moaning over the physique form, the S3 seems to be shockingly good. This tester’s Daytona Grey Pearl isn’t our most popular coloration choice, however the beneficiant utility of pink S3 accents and bi-color wheels convey some intrigue to the bundle. It’s a small, scrappy automobile, and the aggressiveness is ramped up one other notch with the Black Optic Bundle that chops all of the silver trim away to get replaced with shiny black trim, a particular improve.

Sadly, all of those choices steeply enhance the worth past that tempting base degree talked about above. On the absolute minimal, you’ll need the $1,100 S Sport Bundle that features the adaptive dampers and the 19-inch wheel/summer time tire bundle that forces you into the $1,950 Black Optic Bundle. This ramps the worth as much as $48,995, which continues to be close by of a Golf R that comes absolutely loaded as normal. The value additionally compares properly to opponents just like the AMG CLA 35 and M235i Gran Coupe that each get much more costly with related gear. 

Because it stands in an primarily loaded state at $55,890, the S3 is a legit do-it-all performer with almost each little bit of tech you may want or count on from an Audi. You may have enjoyable and smack by the gears on the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, make all of the foolish noise you need and nonetheless have a refined every day driver when you’re finished being a hooligan. It’s extra enjoyable than the BMW choice, and received’t rattle your brains out just like the AMG. This S3 is a candy spot you possibly can lean into in case you’re not making an attempt to step into one thing as severe because the RS 3, however nonetheless desire a automobile that may plant a smile in your face every time you drive it.

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