2022 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro

Cars like the Audi A3 do not set fire to the hearts of enthusiasts. Although the Audi A3 has always been an excellent and comfortable everyday driver, it has never been more interesting to drive. In fact, he was always very nice. However, Audi claimed to have fixed that niceness with the new model, citing chassis and steering improvements over the previous generation.

I was not present in person for the press release of the A3. With that said, our contributor Chuck Vossler went, and he had surprisingly positive things to say about her. Which encouraged me to test the new Audi A3 for a week and so I did, I’m curious to see if Audi really improved on its smallest and least interesting sedans.

My test car

Audi A3 2.0T Quattro 7 test drive from 27830x467

Audi sent me what is probably the best example of the type of A3 that most customers will buy; Audi A3 2.0T quattro with Premium Plus package. The latter is a mid-spec trim level, between the base “Premium” and the high-end “Prestige” lines. It brings features like adaptive cruise control, a memory driver’s seat, wireless phone charging, Audi Advanced Key (keyless entry), and a garage door opener. Nothing crazy but the kind of options that most customers don’t want to live without anymore.

My car was wearing a very handsome, albeit a bit boring, Manhattan Gray paint with a beautiful interior by Santos Brown. It also has the Interior Style Package, which added soft onyx birch trim and additional LED interior lighting. The first is great looking but there was very little to it, just a small slab on the dashboard. Most of the interior is trimmed in fingerprint-laden piano black, which doesn’t look very premium.

Audi A3 2.0T Quattro 25 test drive from 27830x467

It also had the Technology Package fitted, which brought a 12.3 Virtual Cockpit display, a Bang & Olufsen speaker system, and MMI Navigation Plus with traffic sign recognition. Overall, my test car bounced back at $44.440.

Sitting in my driveway, the Audi A3 looked great; Handsome, sharp, distinguished and modern. It seems to be the kind of premium car that a mid-level executive of my age would drive because that’s exactly what it is. At just under $45,000, it’s expensive enough that the average American can’t afford it, but entry-level to mid-level executives can do it, and that’s exactly the feeling it gives. It is elegant but not overly.

Inside, the quality of the materials is beautiful, the design is modern, and the ergonomics are excellent. Although it is a bit boring to look at. However, in general, I was happy to spend a week inside the A3; Its seats are comfortable (although not too supportive for spirited driving), its technology is great and easy to use, and it features physical climate control buttons, all while ditching Audis modern touchscreen climate controls. The only minor inconvenience was the volume control, which is a touch sensitive panel annoying to use. Fortunately, the steering wheel controls take care of that.

Powertrain and performance

What kind of powertrain do you get for $45,000? The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine produces 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid setup. Paired with a seven-speed “S-Tronic” dual-clutch gearbox, this engine is the only option. The A3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, but for being a Quattro, my test car was all-wheel drive. Although it’s a forward-biased Haldex all-wheel drive system, not a proper Quattro setup.

The strength is more than enough, as I always felt strong during my week. In fact, the small A3 can lose your license speeds faster than you might think, given its power numbers. It’s a properly active little car. Shifts are also quick, as they should be, since they’re done by a dual-clutch car. However, switches in manual mode are horribly slow. Seriously, pull the left paddle and you can count two Mississippians before it shifts into gear. It’s downright unacceptable in a $45,000 car with a dual-clutch transmission.

When you really hit it, Audi claims the Quattro-equipped A3 can hit 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, but it honestly feels faster than that. What’s impressive is that it combines that decently fast performance with a 31 mpg rating that I totally believe in. When the car was lowered, I was said to have 515 miles on the tank. After a week of driving at enthusiast level, he said 490 miles on the tank. My average was just under 30 mpg during that week as well.

Better treatment than I expected

The previous generation Audi A3 was as excited to drive as a Swedish detective. This new car is really decent. It’s not a hot hatch and a Volkswagen GTI would embarrass you, but it’s more fun than any of its competitors, such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.

The steering is light but the weights rise nicely off center and have amazing accuracy. The front end bites hard enough and feels really sharp. Again, it’s not a GTI or Veloster N but a fun little car to drive around.

If there was one complaint about driving dynamics, it would be with the ride. My test car didn’t have adaptive dampers and the ride was too stiff for everyday driving while also a bit sloppy for spirited driving. Excess vertical movement and not enough damping made my A3 test car feel a bit uncomfortable over unfinished pavement and a lot of rolling made it feel limp in corners. It’s not terrible but it does need Audi’s adaptive dampers.

Can’t wait for S3

More than anything else, the Audi A3 left me feeling optimistic about the high-performance models. I am glad that the A3 standard is much better than before; With better driving dynamics, better powertrain and better interior design; But I’m mostly optimistic about the Audi S3 and RS3. The latter I know would be cool because all RS3s are great but the former is a car that isn’t.

With the new Audi A3 being as good as it gets, I hope the Audi S3 will be even better.

[Source: QuattroDaily]

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