What a handsome little sedan.
The Audi A3 has grown up for 2022, with a sharp new look and a high-tech cabin, as Audi gears up to take on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and even upmarket versions of the Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 sedans.
It’s a big deal for Audi. Not only is it usually the brand’s best-selling passenger car, as recently as 2018 it’s been the marque’s overall best-seller.
We’ve already driven the hot S3, and we know the entry-level A3 35 TFSI is an impressive little car thanks to its high-tech mild-hybrid powertrain.
The 40 TFSI here slots between them with a hot-ish 140kW of power, a sporty exterior, and a (relatively) generously-equipped interior. You still need to tick a few options boxes to make sure it’s fully equipped, though.
Does it represent the sweet spot in the range?
The A3 Sedan 40 TFSI quattro S line is priced from $56,000 before on-road costs, making it $6600 more expensive than its less powerful (and less generously equipped) 35 TFSI brother.
It undercuts the S3 Sedan by $17,300 before on-roads, although the S3 is a significantly sportier vehicle.
As for rivals? The BMW 220i Gran Coupe with the M Sport package is $56,900 before on-road costs, while the Mercedes-Benz A250 Sedan is priced from $64,919 before on-roads.
Given what comes standard, and the performance on offer, the A3 40 TFSI shapes as good value.
2022 Audi A3 pricing:
- Audi A3 Sportback 35 TFSI: $46,900
- Audi A3 Sedan 35 TFSI: $49,400
- Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI quattro S line: $53,400
- Audi A3 Sedan 40 TFSI quattro S line: $56,000
- Audi S3 Sportback: $70,700
- Audi S3 Sedan: $73,200
- Audi RS3 Sportback: $92,200
- Audi RS3 Sedan: $94,700
All prices exclude on-road costs
Standard equipment across the Audi A3 range includes:
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Adaptive LED headlights
- LED tail lights with dynamic indicators
- Convenience key (keyless entry)
- Electric, heated side mirrors
- Electric opening boot lid (A3 Sedan)
- Leather-appointed seats
- Leather multifunction steering wheel w/ paddles
- Dual-zone climate control w/ rear vents
- Comfort front-centre armrest
- 40:20:40 rear-seat backrest
- 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen
- MMI navigation plus with Google Maps + live traffic
- Audi Connect Plus
- Apple CarPlay (wireless) + Android Auto (wired)
- 6-speaker audio
A3 40 TFSI quattro S line adds:
- 18-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels
- S line exterior styling
- Anodised aluminium window surrounds
- Illuminated door sill trims
- Sport front seats
- Storage and luggage compartment package
- Ambient interior lighting
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Audi drive select modes
The Premium Package ($4500, not fitted) adds:
- Head-up display
- Adaptive cruise assist
- Electric front seats with electric lumbar
- Heated front seats
- Colour ambient lighting
- Aluminium-look interior elements
- Electric folding, dimming side mirrors
- 10-speaker Audi sound system
Front-wheel drive versions of the new Audi A3 wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2020 date stamp. The 40 TFSI quattro and S3 all-wheel drive versions remain unrated.
It scored 89 per cent for adult occupant protection, 81 per cent for child occupant protection, 68 per cent for vulnerable road users and 73 per cent for safety assist.
All versions of the Audi A3 come with:
- AEB with pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Lane departure warning
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring with exit warning*
- Rear cross-traffic assist*
- Front + rear parking sensors
- Park assist
- Reversing camera
*Currently unavailable due to component shortages
In addition to the above safety equipment, there’s dual frontal side chest and side curtain airbags as standard, as well as a front-centre airbag in line with the latest ANCAP and Euro NCAP criteria.
Audi has gone big on technology in its new A3, with a class-leading pair of screens dominating the cabin.
It’s a very flashy setup, especially coupled with the new driver-oriented dashboard design, but some of the materials and finishes in the new cabin leave a bit to be desired.
The fundamentals are good. The sports seats in the 40 TFSI are better than the units in the 35 TFSI, with more support and better bolstering. The driving position is excellent, allowing drivers of all shapes and sizes to get comfortable, and the lovely leather steering wheel feels great in your hands.
Facing the driver is a high-resolution display capable of showing Google Maps, a trip computer, information about your media, or just a simple, classic speedometer and rev counter. It’s the best digital binnacle in the game, with the right blend of clear, simple graphics and information.
The central screen is similarly excellent, with the same slick graphics and lightning responses you get in the bigger, more expensive A6. Wireless Apple CarPlay connects quickly and doesn’t drop out, while the inbuilt navigation offers live traffic and excellent satellite maps.
There’s something very satisfying about the little haptic click you get after pressing an icon, too.
Sitting below the screen is a simple climate control pod with proper buttons (good), but none of the satisfying knurled dials that made the previous A3 feel like a quality item (bad).
Storage spaces abound. Along with the slot at the base of the dashboard where the wireless charger would usually sit, there are two cupholders (with a clever design that allows them to be turned into an open bin), a compact under-arm space, and door pockets with plenty of space for drink bottles.
The space around the stubby little gear selector feels wasted, though. It’s a huge expanse of gloss black plastic, and could be better utilised for storing keys or coins.
Material quality up front is a mixed bag. The wheel feels great, and all the buttons make a satisfying click… but the giant trim piece in front of the passenger looks cheap, and flexes under even light pressure.
The top of the front doors is finished in scratchy plastic, and there’s a blank space where a sliver of aluminium trim would usually sit unless you pay more for an options package. It’s a very obvious sign the accountants in Ingolstadt have tightened their purse strings.
Rear seat space is decent, given the A3’s compact dimensions. Legroom is tight behind me at six-seven, but a regular-height adult will be able to squeeze behind a regular-height adult if needed, and kids will be comfortable back there.
Not only does it make the car look a bit like a watered-down DTM racer, the boxy profile of the A3 Sedan means headroom is decent. Not only does it fare well alongside the A-Class and 2 Series GC, it actually isn’t far off cars like the Alfa Romeo Giulia or Genesis G70 back there.
Audi gains marks for including air vents back there, along with a fold-down central armrest and cupholders. The windowline means there’s plenty of light in the second row, which kids will appreciate.
There are ISOFIX points on the outboard rear seats, and three top-tether point for child seats.
Claimed boot space is 390 litres with the rear seats in place, and 1145L with them folded flat. The boot opening is wide, and the floor is low and flat.
Power in the A3 40 TFSI quattro comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making 140kW and 320Nm. It’s sent to a part-time quattro all-wheel drive system, which is front-biased until slip is detected.
A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is standard, with no manual option.
The 100km/h sprint takes a claimed 7.0 seconds, and claimed fuel economy is 6.6 litres per 100km on the combined cycle. We saw in the mid-8.0L range with a skew to city driving.
The fuel tank measures 55 litres, and the engine demands 95 RON premium unleaded fuel thanks in part to its petrol particulate filter (PPF).
The A3 drives with the polish you’d expect of an Audi small car.
With 30kW more power and 70Nm more torque than the base model, and a 7.0-second 100km/h sprint time, the 40 TFSI is a warm sedan in disguise.
The same engine features in versions of the Skoda Karoq and Volkswagen T-Roc crossovers, so it’s more than capable of getting the smaller, lighter A3 going in a bit of a hurry.
There’s plenty of torque on offer down low, and when you put your foot down it pulls more determinedly through the mid-range than the entry engine, squeezing you back harder in your seat. It lets out a subtle growl when you push it hard, too.
The dual-clutch transmission is generally a smooth mover at low speeds, with very little hesitation off the mark. It shuffles straight to the tallest gear it can on light throttle inputs to save fuel, but dip into the throttle’s travel and it kicks down quickly to drop you into the meat of the engine’s torque.
Despite the 19-inch wheels, the A3 rides well. It’s sporty, but doesn’t get harsh over potholes and sharp-edged bumps like you might expect, and never feels busy over little imperfections on the highway.
It’s impressively settled at 100km/h, dealing effortlessly with crests and dips, although even this updated A3 is noisy over anything other than perfect road surfaces. It’s an issue that afflicts lots of European cars, but it’s disappointing the new A3 hasn’t been able to really move the game forward.
It’s also disappointing that Audi bundles adaptive cruise control into the Premium Pack. This is a premium car, and it’s priced accordingly relative to a Golf or Skoda Octavia. It should also be specced accordingly.
Audi’s lane-keeping assist does a good job nudging you back between the white lines when you drift, but manages to avoid feeling too hands-on when you’re tracking straight and true. The suite of cameras, sensors, and alerts are all top notch, too.
With reasonably tight body control and weighty steering in Auto or Dynamic mode, the A3 40 TFSI also doesn’t mind being thrown into a corner.
It’s more mild than wild, but the punchy engine, snappy transmission, and all-wheel drive traction mean this little sedan can get a bit of a move on.
Of course, anyone in more of a hurry can look at the S3, or even the Mercedes-AMG A45-bothering RS3.
Audi Australia now covers all its vehicles with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
There’s also five years warranty cover for body and paintwork, as well as 12 years of bodywork corrosion cover.
Maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000km, and a five-year Audi Genuine Care Service Package is priced at $2250.
In some ways, the Audi A3 represents a step forward over its predecessor. In others, it’s gone sideways.
It drives with the refinement you’d expect of an Audi, and the interior technology on offer even in the base model elevates it above the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
The 140kW engine in this 40 TFSI model, coupled with all-wheel drive, offers the right blend of performance and economy to make it a worthwhile upgrade over the base model.
Without the Plus Pack fitted, however, the same can’t be said for the interior. Look beyond the screens and it lacks the same tactility as its predecessor; the dull and flexible plastic in front of the passenger would be disappointing in a Volkswagen Golf.
Does that mean you should steer clear of the A3 40 TFSI? Not necessarily.
Even with the Premium Pack fitted it represents decent value alongside its German rivals and, from its spacious interior to the refined drive, the fundamentals of the car are excellent.
Spec wisely and you’re onto a winner.
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MORE: Everything Audi A3