2022 Audi S3 Highway Take a look at Assessment: Cute-sized efficiency

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The Audi S3 has lengthy been an fanatic’s luxury sedan different to the Volkswagen Golf R. These two have shared chassis, powertrains and driving dynamics, however all the time various broadly when it got here to pricing. Now not is the Golf R its sole comparability, although, as others just like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and BMW M235i Gran Coupe are actually 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 rivals knocking on the door from each which approach, it’s factor that the S3 continues to be a small storm of a sedan to drive. The two.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes a robust 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is nice sufficient to crack off 4.5-second 0-60-mph instances utilizing the automobile’s launch management perform. This little bugger is fast, and it’s glad to shout about it with the energetic 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 significantly particular concerning the noise, however it’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 constructive information, Audi’s current downward pattern by way of interior luxury 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. Should you’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 type. Performance is shockingly good, except for the perplexing contact quantity scroller that operates like an previous iPod Nano. The previous little knob was higher. Moreover that, Audi supplies 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 cause why the S3 is so tempting. Attempting to function the Golf R’s frustrating climate/multimedia interface at evening is likely to be all that is wanted to win you over to Audi’s aspect.

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 new Golf R far more fun 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 slightly agreeable. It’s greatest left in that setting in order for you essentially the most reactive and steady dealing with really feel down a meandering highway. 

The S3’s small measurement works within the automobile’s favor with regards 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 way of corners, and it sadly comes with a dab of front-heaviness, not neutrality. The tire setup on the S3 isn’t monumental, with 235-section-width rubber in any respect 4 corners whenever you spec the elective 19-inch wheels, however these summer time tires assist bail the automobile out in some circumstances. Even whenever you assume the chassis is a little bit overburdened, the S3 continues to be tenaciously gripping to the pavement.

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

Total utility is stable, with 35.2 inches of rear legroom, although the pretty giant 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 version of the S3 and RS 3 right here, as a capacious hatchback is sort of all the time preferable over a small sedan in our eyes (though there can be some caveats).

However alas, we’re caught with the sedan, and regardless of moaning over the physique form, the S3 appears to be like shockingly good. This tester’s Daytona Grey Pearl isn’t our most popular color choice, however the beneficiant utility of crimson S3 accents and bi-color wheels carry some intrigue to the package deal. It’s a small, scrappy automobile, and the aggressiveness is ramped up one other notch with the Black Optic Package deal 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 value past that tempting base stage talked about above. On the absolute minimal, you’ll need the $1,100 S Sport Package deal that features the adaptive dampers and the 19-inch wheel/summer time tire package deal that forces you into the $1,950 Black Optic Package deal. This ramps the value as much as $48,995, which continues to be nearby of a Golf R that comes totally loaded as customary. The value additionally compares effectively to rivals just like the AMG CLA 35 and M235i Gran Coupe that each get much more costly with comparable gear. 

Because it stands in an basically 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 anticipate from an Audi. You’ll be able to have enjoyable and smack by way of the gears on the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, make all of the foolish noise you need and nonetheless have a refined each day driver when you’re accomplished being a hooligan. It’s extra enjoyable than the BMW choice, and gained’t rattle your brains out just like the AMG. This S3 is a candy spot you may lean into when 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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