2022 Audi A3
- Starting at $35,000 (estimated)
- Fall-winter 2021
What to expect
- Redesigned version of Audi's smallest car, complete with a wild new interior
- Driver-focused cabin with new touchscreen infotainment system
- Additional driver aids
- Launches the third-generation A3
What is the A3?
Until recently, the Audi A3 was our go-to recommendation for shoppers looking for an entry-level luxury sedan. Though its diminutive size meant it wasn't really suitable for four tall adults, the A3 impressed us with its excellent materials quality, rapid acceleration and sublime comfort. Then Mercedes-Benz released the A-Class — a small four-door with tech from the range-topping S-Class for under $35,000. While the A3 continues to be an excellent choice, it certainly feels less special than before.
Volkswagen's luxury arm is looking to turn the tide with the upcoming 2022 Audi A3. Additional creases on the bodywork sharpen the A3's appearance, while silver blades in the faux air inlets and a slight gap between bumper and hood recall the larger Audi A4. The biggest change is to the A3's interior, which features a driver-focused design and high-tech feel. It also employs extreme angles throughout. Though we don't think the cabin will be universally beloved, its daring and distinctive design is unique for such a budget-friendly small car.
What's under the A3's hood?
Other markets will get turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder and 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines in addition to a diesel, but the U.S.-bound A3 will exclusively be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline motor. We don't know exact specifications yet, but Audi says it will produce more power and torque than the current A3 engine, which offers 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Audi typically shares engines throughout its lineup, and we wouldn't be surprised to see the A4's 2.0-liter (249 hp, 273 lb-ft) appear in the A3. Regardless of final output, the engine will come matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and will be available in front- and all-wheel drive.
How's the A3's interior?
While the exterior styling is just slightly massaged, the cabin is a different story entirely. It shares some elements of the 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI — both vehicles are based on VW's MQB architecture — including the toggle shifter and digital instrument panel. Other than a generally driver-focused layout, the interior looks like nothing else in the Volkswagen portfolio.
Though many luxury cars experiment with organic forms with long, sweeping curves, the A3's cockpit appears to have been designed with a straight edge. Sharp acute angles decorate the door panels, while the center-console surround mimics the A3's front grille. A pair of driver-facing air vents flank the instrument binnacle, clearing up space on the center stack for climate controls. There are two air vents in front of the passenger, with an aluminum throughline that gives the impression of one large vent.
Since the A3's wheelbase hasn't changed, we don't expect the rear seat to be any more accommodating than the current model. Look for a cabin that is fairly spacious for tall passengers up front, with a rear seat best reserved for shorter occupants or children. Audi hasn't confirmed whether the cloth upholstery shown in these pictures will be available for U.S.-spec models, but we wouldn't be surprised if our A3s just came with leather seating.
How's the A3's tech?
The current A3 is one of the only Audis still using a display screen interface controlled by a knob and buttons. That will change for the 2022 A3, which will adopt a touchscreen like all of the newest Audis. The 10.1-inch screen features the MIB 3 interface alongside Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with wireless functionality for both planned in the near future. A 10.25-inch digital instrument panel is standard, and buyers can option the more fully featured Digital Cockpit display, which increases the size to 12.3 inches. The navigation system also has the ability to predict traffic to your destination based on previously collected data, so your ETA can be calculated with even greater accuracy.
Other features include a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging pad and a head-up display. It will also feature V2X ("vehicle to everything") communication, allowing the A3 to digitally "talk" to vehicles and infrastructure. V2X features exist on a few Audi models already, making the A3 the least expensive vehicle in the lineup to be equipped with this forward-thinking tech.
The new A3 also brings upgrades to driving aids. Every model will come standard with lane departure warning and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Optional features include an automated parking system and a top-down 360-degree parking camera. Some systems are enhanced for 2022 — adaptive cruise control now includes a lane-centering feature, and the blind-spot monitor stays active after parking to warn you if you're about to open your door into approaching traffic.
The current Audi A3 is an exceptional small sedan, but it doesn't feel quite as luxurious as the Mercedes A-Class. The redesigned 2022 A3 hopes to reclaim the title, with new high-tech features and a bold new cabin.