2022 Audi A3 Review

2022 Audi A3 - A little bit of luxury, a lot of comfort


Living in a city, I always think a small car or hatchback is a good idea. But I don’t want to scrimp on the tech features – or the heated seats. So, something like the 2022 Audi A3, if you have $35k to spend, could be a good option.

During my weeklong test, I spent a lot of time in the running errands on surface streets and took a road trip down to Indy. With a lot of seat time, I discovered two things: The 2022 A3 is both comfortable and fun to drive.

Cabin comfort
The interior of the A3 gets a refresh for 2022, with a more driver-oriented cockpit that has easy-to-reach controls. I like the clean streamlined looks, strong horizontal lines and the well-textured surfaces.

When I drive down to Indy, it’s 3 hours one way, and that’s usually a pretty good tell of how comfortable a vehicle will be. Thankfully, the A3 is one of those vehicles with well-padded, contoured seats that have just the right support in all the right places. The biggest surprise for me, oddly, were the headrests. With all the new safety systems in place, headrests have the tendency to point forward and push my head at awkward angles. The A3 headrests, however, were fairly upright, and they had just the right amount of cushion for my head.

Driving dynamics
When you get into the drivability of the 2022 A3, that’s where this vehicle sings – and occasionally stutters. With its petite proportions, the A3 is highly maneuverable in tight city spaces as well as nimble for those aggressive passes on the highway. I loved the dynamic mode, which tightened up the steering and throttle response, giving the A3 a solid sporty appeal.

The 2022 A3 is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain delivers 201 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque, which is a 17 horsepower add over the previous model.

I had several people ask me how it compares to my VW GTI, and while it’s certainly fun, the A3 doesn’t quite have the visceral appeal of the GTI. It doesn’t offer a manual transmission, and any engine noise feels very far removed from the cabin, so the actual connection to the driving experience is muted. So, in a way, the A3 feels a little too clean.

But that isn’t even the stutter. The one thing that irks in terms of the driving experience is the auto stop/start technology. Audi has done a great job smoothing this feature out, and the engine shutting off at a stop is more of a sigh than a gasp. But the transition to switching the engine back on when leaving a red light or trying to make a left turn into traffic is just enough that the vehicle, well, stutters. Additionally, the turbo lag is noticeable after the engine has been off, and none of this is great if you’re in an urban environment with aggressive drivers. I found myself turning the auto stop/start feature off every time I entered the vehicle. The few times I forgot and left it on nearly caused a crash because the vehicle almost didn’t move fast enough to merge with fast-flowing traffic – and that scared the snot out of me.

What I wish the A3 did is turn this feature off when you’re in dynamic mode so that you don’t have to remember to turn it off every time the engine cycles over.

Tech that makes sense
While the test vehicle had the Premium Package with some more advanced safety tech, a lot of the tech goodies were standard at the $35k mark. This included a 10.1-inch infotainment screen, heated front seats, three-zone automatic climate control (#marriagesaver), a digital cluster and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

However, I do think at least a few of things in the Premium Package should not have been an option: adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and rear cross-traffic assist. When you can get these things on a base Toyota Corolla, it seems to be a bit crass to make them “available” on a luxury car.

Two things I have no problem adding as options: wireless charging and active park assist.
A quick note on the park assist: I liked the functionality but if you’re familiar with systems from BMW or Chrysler, it’s with pointing out this isn’t a full-service system. The system does work in both parallel and perpendicular situations, and it will get you into the spot as well as position you to get out of the spot. However, the vehicle only takes over steering, and the driver still needs to brake and shift.

A few weird things
While I like the overall design of the 2022 A3, there is one big thing that has to go: black lacquer accents. While this looks great in a perfect, polished world, it’s horrible in a reality where dust and fingerprints exist – especially in the location where Audi put it – right next to the gearshift and volume slider. You know, a place your fingers will likely touch and graze frequently. Ick.

Speaking of the gearshift and volume slider, I almost feel like Audi made these features different just because. There doesn’t seem to be a reason for the small lever shift – it certainly doesn’t free up any space on the console. And the volume slider, reminiscent of iPods circa the early aughts, is just weird. You can’t reach down without looking and hit it correctly, which creates more fingerprints, and it doesn’t work as well as a dial. Why fix something that isn’t broken?

The last thing I found odd was the lack of an around-view camera. I’m sure it’s an option, but the test vehicle didn’t have it, and it wasn’t included in the Premium Package. Instead, there was a digital depiction of proximity to objects based on various sensors. That’s weird.

The bottom line on the 2022 Audi A3
Overall, I really like the A3. It’s great for road trips. It’s great for city drives. It’ll make an excellent commuter car. But, especially with the white paint, it’s one of those vehicles that begs for a garage. So, if you live in an apartment building, you might want to opt for the VW Jetta until your car has a covered place to sleep.

Jill Ciminillo

Jill has been writing about cars for more than 15 years, representing the female point of view amongst her predominantly male colleagues. And since something like 80 percent of all car-buying decisions are either made by or influenced by women, that's nothing to sneeze at. Formerly the online automotive editor for the Chicago Sun-Times, the print auto editor for Pioneer Press Newspapers and the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, this 5th percentile (aka petite) female tells it like it is from the fun to the functional. Jill recently served as the first female president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and currently sits on its Board of Directors as President Emeritus. Jill is a syndicated automotive writer and acts as the managing editor for the Pickup Truck + SUV Talk website.