Audi’s smallest offering, the A3 sedan, looks and drives great, and the 2023 S3 improves on that solid basis with a hotter 306-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a suspension tuned for more fun. A sports sedan of this size fits into a narrow niche, but enthusiast drivers will find plenty to love about the S3, even when compared to rivals such as the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, the Cadillac CT4-V, and the Mercedes-AMG CLA35. Like the regular A3, the S3 wears a youthful-but-premium appearance and has an interior that’s crammed with thoughtful tech. Our favorite thing about the S3 is the way it drives, as its fun-to-drive factor is high and its acceleration is impressive, despite some turbo lag. Considering the S3’s relatively affordable starting price, it provides an impressive combination of luxury and performance. Those who want even more power will gravitate more toward the raucous RS3, which we review separately.
What’s New for 2023?
Audi has made only minor changes to the S3 for 2023. The base Premium trim can now be outfitted with adaptive cruise control, and a wireless smartphone charging pad is now part of the optional Convenience package.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Premium Plus trim will satisfy the widest swath of buyers. This mid-range model adds driver-assistance features such as lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control, but also includes features such as memory settings for the driver’s seat, wireless smartphone charging, and more.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All S3 models come with a 306-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. During our initial test drive, we praised the S3’s lithe handling and found its powertrain to be perky, eager, and sonorous. We did note that the heavy steering in the S3 lacks feedback and that there’s considerable turbo lag when driving in the less frenzied Comfort driving mode. At our test track, the S3 bolted to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and covered the quarter-mile in 12.9-seconds at 108 mph.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates that the S3 is good for 23 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, which makes it more efficient than the CLA35 and right on track with the M235i Gran Coupe. When we get a chance to test the S3’s highway fuel economy on our 75-mph test route, we’ll update this story with results. For more information about the S3’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The S3’s cabin is nearly identical to the new A3’s but adds some racier styling elements such as sport seats with quilted leather inserts and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The S3 uses the same toggle-switch gear selector as the A3 as well. Audi offers the S3 with a more comprehensive set of standard features, though, including a panoramic sunroof, three-zone automatic climate control, and illuminated door jamb scuff plates. Passenger space is slightly more generous than in the previous-gen S3, but the new car’s trunk is smaller.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S3 comes with either a 10.1- or 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with Audi’s latest MMI software interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buyers of the mid-range Premium Plus trim can opt for the Technology package, which adds Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, in-dash navigation, and a Bang & Olufsen stereo system.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Like most Audis, the S3 comes standard with several driver-assistance features; more advanced technology is optional. For more information about the S3’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The new S3 comes with the same standard warranty as the rest of the Audi lineup, which includes coverage on the vehicle’s powertrain and a bumper-to-bumper policy that spans four years or 50,000 miles.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2022 Audi S3
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $46,895/$56,840
Options: Premium Plus package, $2800; Technology package (12.3-in digital instrument cluster, Bang & Olufsen sound system, traffic sign recognition), $2250; Black Optic package (black exhaust tips, mirror housings, exterior trim and roof, summer tires), $1950; Fine nappa leather package, $1250; Daytona Grey Pearl paint, $595
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3
Power: 306 hp @ 5450 rpm
Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Suspension, F/R: struts/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 14.1-in vented disc/12.2-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza S005
235/35R-19 91Y AO
Wheelbase: 103.6 in
Length: 177.3 in
Width: 71.5 in
Height: 55.7 in
Passenger Volume: 88 ft3
Trunk Volume: 8 ft3
Curb Weight: 3573 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.3 sec
100 mph: 11.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 12.9 sec @ 108 mph
130 mph: 20.1 sec
150 mph: 31.8 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.2 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.7 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 sec
Top Speed (mfr’s claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 151 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 309 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.96 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 25 mpg
75-mph Highway Driving: 32 mpg
Highway Range: 460 mi
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
More Features and Specs