Audi A3 — A fun-to-drive small sedan with a luxury bent

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(January 8, 2023) Audi introduced the all-new A3 sedan as a 2022 model after a year hiatus, and we give the German luxury car company a high score for creating a fun-to-drive small car that is every bit an Audi as its larger, more-expensive cousins. This is the smallest Audi sedan, and that suits us just fine. We love small cars that can comfortably accommodate two adult passengers in the second row for an occasional trip to a favorite eating place.

And we particularly like smallish sedans if they have a propensity for luxury from their build quality, premium materials, quiet and comfortable interior, the latest in safety and infotainment technology, a modicum of performance, a healthy dose of road-carving ability, and a conservative, but appealing exterior design.

The new A3 has all the aforementioned attributes together with a small footprint that feels light and nimble wether on a twisting back road or in a crowded parking lot.

The exterior redesign presents a handsome, but conservative style in the vein of the modern Audi. It includes a large Singleframe honeycomb grille, standard trapezoidal LED headlights, and redesigned taillights.

The redesign also features a revised interior that includes a standard 10.1-inch center touchscreen and a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster that was upgraded to 12.3-inches in our test car, which came with the Technology package. Leather upholstery, power-adjustable and heated front seats, and tri-zone climate control also come standard.  

The A3 is powered by a 201-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The engine is paired with a 45-volt mild-hybrid system providing fuel economy numbers of 28 mpg in the city, 38 highway and 32 combined with front-wheel drive.
All-wheel drive (quattro in Audi-speak) drops the combined number to 31.  That beats the old model’s ratings of 22/30/25.

If you are thinking that the 2.0-liter is a rather small engine for an Audi, you might think again. It's smooth, quiet and can manage a respectable 6.0-seconds from 0-to-60, about a half second slower than the outgoing engine. But we had no qualms with the performance, handling all our driving chores over 350 miles without breaking a sweat. And considering the improved mpg and the car's outstanding handling traits with the 201-hp engine, all is well.

If, however, you like the A3, but simply need more performance, you can turn to the S3 (at an elevated price, of course) with the turbocharged 4 increased to 306 horsepower and performance measured at about 4.5 seconds from 0-to-60. Expect to pay about 10 grand more than the A3.
And if really raucous performance is desired in the A3 platform check out the RS version with a turbocharged 2.5-liter 5-cylinder engine making 401 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Starting price — $60,000.

The point here is affordability paired with driving enjoyment and we think the new A3 hits our sweet spot with a starting price of about $36,000. The A3 comes in just two trim levels Premium and Premium Plus. Our Premium Plus test car with quattro, the Technology package ($2,250), an 18-inch wheel package ($800) and an interior style package ($550) carried a bottom line of $44,440. The Technology package is certainly with the money bringing the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit plus gauge display, navigation and a Bang and Olufsen sound system.

Standard safety technology across the board includes lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and Pre-sense, a system that does things like pretension occupants’ seat belts, close the side windows and sunroof, and activate the hazard flashers if the driver brakes hard or the electronic stability control is activated. Unfortunately, you will have to upgrade to the Premium Plus package to get adaptive cruise control and blindspot mirrors with rear cross-traffic warning.

As mentioned, the A3 despite its size (176.9 inches long with a 103.5-inch wheel base) can carry two adults in the second row with a modicum of comfort. Taller passengers may have to negotiate for more leg room with the front-seat passenger. Trunk space is measured at a smallish 10.9 cubic feet, which we found can handle several travel items including two roller boards. Rear seatbacks can be folded down for additional space.

The A3 carries a basic bumper-to-bumper warranty of 4 years/50,000 miles.

2023 Audi A3


Base price: $35,996; as driven: $44,440
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 201 @ 4,800 rpm
Torque: 221 pound-feet @ 4,100 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Wheelbase: 103.5 inches
Length: 176.9 inches
Curb weight: 3,329 pounds
Turning circle: 36.4 feet
Luggage capacity: 10.9 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 28 city, 36 highway, 31 combined
0-60: 6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Acura Integra, BMW 2-Series, Mercedes CLA-Class

The Good
• Sprightly engine feel
• Excellent fuel economy
• Refined ride quality

The Bad
• Limited rear passenger space

The Ugly
• Small trunk