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Revelation: The 2022 Audi S3

2022 Audi S3 front 3/4 view

Say hello to one of the most perfectly balanced cars---in every respect---that I've had the pleasure to drive in 25-plus years of writing about cars.

This is the Audi S3, the performance version of the A3 sedan.

2022 Audi S3 rear 3/4 view

It had been three years since I'd seen an Audi for review, so this was a fresh taste of the brand. Perfect timing, since 2022 brought an all-new A3 lineup (A3, A3 quattro, S3, RS 3). This is a size smaller than the A4, and is one of the smallest sedans remaining on the market in the U.S. (Mercedes decided to stop importing its A-Class at the end of the '22 model year). But walking around the S3, taking it in, I was struck by just how balanced the design was. It didn't look like a "little" car, or a shrunken big one. It was impeccable. Four doors on four wheels in a tailored suit inviting me to go for a drive.

2022 Audi S3 hood up

2022 Audi S3 engine

Under the hood of the Audi S3 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It's mated to a seven-speed automatic and power gets to all four wheels via Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system. Sixty miles an hour happens from a standing start in 4.5 seconds.

And Audi makes sure that power is properly maximized, with progressive steering, a sport suspension, and run-flat summer tires.

Dear God, does it work. The S3 is not just quick---the driving experience, like the design, is perfectly balanced. It feels substantial yet nimble, as composed and capable at speed on a winding road as it is rolling through a school zone at exactly 25 miles per hour. And despite significant power, the S3 gets an EPA-estimated 27 mpg combined city/highway.

2022 Audi S3 trunk open

2022 Audi S3 rear seat

2022 Audi S3 front seats

2022 Audi S3 front seat detail

2022 Audi S3 instrument panel

The base price of the 2022 Audi S3 is $45,945 (including destination). There's a ton of standard equipment that comes with---a 10.1-inch touchscreen, full LED headlights with high-beam assist, heated front seats and exterior mirrors, leather seating surfaces, a panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control and more.

2022 Audi S3 steering wheel and gauge cluster

2022 Audi S3 center console

2022 Audi S3 center stack

There's room for extra-cost options, though, and our test vehicle had $11,495 worth of them. The Navarra Blue metallic paint was $595. The Prestige Package (adaptive cruise assist, alarm system with motion sensor, animation for headlights and taillights, active lane assist, navigation, side assist with rear cross traffic assist, Audi Virtual Cockpit Plus with a 12.3-inch driver information screen, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors, a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, Homelink garage door opener, head up display, Matrix-design LED headlights, driver's seat memory, a 3-month trial to SiriusXM with 360L and a six-month trial to Audi Connect Plus, traffic sign recognition, and a tieless phone charging pad) added $6,600.

Our car also had the Black Optic Package (19-inch 5-double-spoke-edge design wheels with a bi-color finish, summer tires, black exhaust tips, black exterior mirror housings, black roof and high-gloss black exterior elements), which is $1,950. There was also the Fine Nappa leather package with carbon atlas structure inlays and diamond stitching at $1,250 and the S sport package (red brake calipers and sport suspension with damper control) for $1,100.

All told, the as-tested price of the 2022 Audi S3 is $57,440.

2022 Audi S3 front view

2022 Audi S3 side view

2022 Audi S3 rear view

And yes, that's a big price tag for a small car. But it's absolutely in line for the performance, the balance, the excellence that the Audi S3 provides.

Drive one and tell me I'm wrong. I'll wait.


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