2023 Audi A3

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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
July 27, 2022

Buying tip

The base A3 with the Premium Plus package bundles Audi’s driver-assist and convenience technologies.

features & specs

Premium 40 TFSI
Premium 40 TFSI quattro
Premium Plus 40 TFSI
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
MPG
27 city / 35 hwy
MPG
28 city / 38 hwy
MSRP
$34,900
MSRP
$36,900
MSRP
$34,900

The Audi A3 doesn’t stand out from German rivals, but it’s confident composure is undeniable.

What kind of car is the 2023 Audi A3? What does it compare to?

The Audi A3 small sedan ratchets up the power in S3 and RS 3 performance models, but the base car competes with German rivals such as the BMW 2-Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as well as the reborn Acura Integra. 

Is the 2023 Audi A3 a good car?

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It’s a good small car with tight handling and powered by peppy turbo engines. The standard features and technology also boost the A3’s standing to a 6.8 out of 10 TCC Rating. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2023 Audi A3?

After last year’s redesign, the A3 now has full LED headlights across the lineup and synthetic leather armrests. Adaptive cruise control is available on the base Premium trim, or as part of the Premium Plus package. 

The A3 lacks the flair and birthmarks of its German rivals, yet its sharp lines and muscular proportions are attractive. The interior could do with less gloss-black plastic, but the contrasting hard and soft materials make up for it.

Three turbocharged engines fill out the three models in the lineup, with a base 201-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 garnering the most sales. Front-wheel drive is standard, but all-wheel drive is a worthy upgrade for both performance and reassurance on all but the S3 and RS 3, where it is standard. The S3 uses a turbo-4 tuned to 306 hp, while the RS 3 employs a rare 2.5-liter 5-cylinder to wring out 401 hp and a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds. Its trick AWD system can turn the car into rear-wheel drive, and an electronic rear differential furthers its performance aims.

The A3 offers five seats, but only four people will sit in comfort, and the tallest passengers better call shotgun because rear head room can be cramped. The A3’s short end limits cargo space to 10.9 cubic feet, and it’s even less on S3 and RS 3 grades, but the rear seats fold flat to expand the space in the cramped trunk.  

Federal crash testing has not been completed yet, but the A3 has standard automatic emergency braking. 

How much does the 2023 Audi A3 cost?

While 2023 pricing has not been announced, expect modest increases from last year’s starting point of $35,000 for the Premium grade. It comes well equipped with a 10.1-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone compatibility, a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a power sunroof. The S3 Prestige costs about $53,000, while the RS 3 hits the $60,000 mark. 

Where is the 2023 Audi A3 made?

In Ingolstadt, Germany. 


7

2023 Audi A3

Styling

The 2023 Audi A3 is unassuming and unpretentious.

Is the Audi A3 a good-looking car?

Understated but confident, the A3 lacks the hallmark characteristics of BMW and the opulent interiors of Mercedes-Benz, but it earns a point each for its sculpted exterior and sophisticated interior. 

The small sedan sports a broad trapezoidal grille flanked by lower air intakes that grow bigger on S and RS models. Slim running lights make brows over narrow LED headlights that lead into a belt line down each side. A lower crease rises up to the rear wheels, which range from 17 inches on the A3 to 19 inches on the RS 3. A snub decklid conceals dual exhaust pipes on the A3, but the S3 flexes dual twin exhausts and the RS 3 opens up to massive chrome-tipped pipes on either side. 

The interior lacks the flash of rivals, but its calm, conservative design has plenty of appeal. A layered dash with a 10.1-inch touchscreen angles toward the driver, with high horizontal vents that flank the 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The passenger vents take a step down, above a metallic shelf. A climate control panel with toggles combines a digital display, and the center console’s gear lever sticks out like a tongue from a face of gloss black plastic. Unfortunately, the gloss isn’t replaced by less smudgy materials in higher grades.  

Review continues below

7

2023 Audi A3

Performance

Turbo power and surefooted agility make the 2023 Audi A3 a winner.

A pair of turbo-4s give the A3 plenty of snap, but its true charm is how well it sticks to the pavement. It earns a point each for its acceleration and handling. If rated separately, the S3 would rate at 8, and the RS 3 a 9; the RS 3 is a hoot and a half. 

Is the Audi A3 4WD?

Front-wheel drive comes standard, but Quattro all-wheel drive is a $2,000 addition we’d recommend for greater all-weather grip and performance. The S3 and RS 3 come standard with Quattro, and in the RS 3 all of the torque can be shuttled to the rear axle, where an electronically controlled rear differential then sends all of that power to one rear wheel or the other, if need be. 

How fast is the Audi A3?

It varies by model, but the small engines pack decent to big power. The base A3 uses a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 201 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Audi claims it hits 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, but all-wheel drive trims it to 6.3 seconds. That’s another argument for AWD, though it adds 170 lb for a curb weight of just under 3,500 lb. The turbo lag can be abated in Dynamic mode, and the various drive modes represent some of the biggest differences in throttle response of cars we’ve tested. A 7-speed automatic transmission mostly hits the right gears, though it takes a beat to downshift when laying into it after braking. 

The A3 stays close to the ground and lacks lean in turns, yet it doesn’t ride harshly when cruising along, thanks in part to a front strut and rear four-link independent suspension. Direct steering with decent feedback keeps the small car on track. Overall, the car’s composure instills confidence to keep pushing it, until sharp turns when the nose loads up and starts to plow.  

The S3 does it better, with its available adaptive dampers and a turbo-4 tuned to 306 hp and 295 lb-ft. It hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and the engine can snap, crackle, and pop for a more visceral experience. 

RS 3

At the top of the A3 lineup sits the RS 3 and its unconventional 2.5-liter turbo-5—that’s right, a five cylinder that doesn’t fire in the order of how the pistons are lined up. It makes 401 hp and 369 lb-ft, and has a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds with launch control. The turbo lag can be pronounced, however, unless pressing the RS button on the steering wheel. Then it’s a gut punch of the best kind, with excellent responses in the second and third gears of the 7-speed dual clutch automatic. It’s a trackable car, especially with the rear-wheel drive bias that can surprise with how it rotates the car. It’s easy and natural to get it back in line, however.

Review continues below

7

2023 Audi A3

Comfort & Quality

The entry-level Audi doesn’t skimp on luxury finishes.

The compact sedan features comfortable heated and power front seats covered in leather upholstery and a fit and finish that bridges the gap between the mainstream and luxury classes. Those traits earn it a point each to a 7. 

With a dash composed of bright metallic plates and pliant, textured rubber, as well as solid standard comfort features, the A3 gives shoppers an entry-level taste into Volkswagen’s luxury brand. Basic materials predominate on the rear door panels, but it’s roomy enough to fit two adults in back due to its 35.2 inches of leg room, though 6-footers might need to slouch.

A 40/20/40 split rear seat opens up more room from the small trunk, which stows only 10.9 cubic feet of cargo. The trunk’s narrow opening makes it hard to get bulky stuff like a goalie hockey bag inside. The S3 and RS 3 shrink the cargo space down to 8.3 cubic feet.

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2023 Audi A3

Safety

Lacking official crash-test ratings, the Audi A3 has safety tech designed to avoid crashes.

How safe is the Audi A3?

Entering its second year after a redesign, the A3 still hasn’t been crash tested by the NHTSA or the IIHS, which precludes us from rating it here. The standard driver-assist features don’t measure up to more mainstream sedans, but automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warnings, automatic high beams, and LED headlights come standard. 

The Premium Plus trim adds adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and parking sensors.

Review continues below
9

2023 Audi A3

Features

Audi equips the A3 with good standard features and reasonable packages.

At a starting price of about $36,000, including a $1,095 destination fee, the 2023 Audi A3 comes well equipped with a 10.1-inch touchscreen, a comprehensive but never intrusive 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster, leather upholstery, power front seats that are heated, and a power sunroof. That’s a good get, earning a point each for its good standard fare, dynamic infotainment system, robust value, and extensive options. 

It just misses a perfect 10 for its 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that excludes any scheduled maintenance. 

Which Audi A3 should I buy?

Assuming the S3 and RS 3 are a different discussion, the A3 shines best once removed from the Premium grade and into the Premium Plus model for about $41,000. It adds adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone charging, and a surround-view camera system, as well as blind-spot monitors, and active lane control. For about $8,500 more, the S3 tempts with its uprated engine, 18-inch summer performance tires, sport bucket seats, and larger brakes. At that point, the RS 3 comes into view. 

How much is a fully loaded Audi A3?

The RS 3 amps up the performance and the price in equal measure, starting at $59,995. Add some black wheels with 19-inch summer tires, an RS exhaust system, as well as a $2,750 Tech package with a head-up display, and it climbs to $65,000. We’d skip the Tech package and its Bang & Olufsen sound to save a buck.

Review continues below

4

2023 Audi A3

Fuel Economy

The suite of turbo-4 engines return good fuel economy, even when paired with AWD.

Is the Audi A3 good on gas?

Standard as a mild-hybrid that cuts engine power when coasting to a stop, the A3 gets up to 32 mpg combined, which counts as a 4 on our revised 2023 scale. 

The EPA rates the A3 with FWD at 28 mpg city, 38 highway, and 32 combined. The BMW 2-Series peaks at 29 mpg combined. Audi’s AWD system in the A3 cuts the ratings to 27/35/30 mpg. With AWD standard, the more potent S3 rates at 23/32/26 mpg, while the RS 3 trades miles for smiles to 20/29/23 mpg.

Review continues below
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$34,900
MSRP based on Premium 40 TFSI
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6.8
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 9
Fuel Economy 4
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