The Audi A3 is offered as a sedan, convertible, or 5-door Sportback. Power comes from a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder with 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Audi A3 sends power to all four wheels via quattro all-wheel drive, though front-wheel-drive versions are available as well. A high-performance version of this same engine powers the Audi S3, where it makes 292 horsepower--enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. The RS3 comes only as an all-wheel drive sedan, and is powered by a 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine that makes an almost-unbelievable 400 horsepower.
Finally, the A3 Sportback e-tron hybrid utilizes an electric motor that makes 102 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque, plus a 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine capable of 150 horsepower. When combined, the two powerplants make 204 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful hybrids available. The Sportback e-tron can drive on purely electric power for about 17 miles.
The Audi A3 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The Premium trim includes leather seating with heated front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, bi-xenon automatic headlights, power adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera and parking sensors, "Alu-optic" interior trim, heated mirrors and washer nozzles, twin USB power/data ports, and a 10-speaker sound system with a 3-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.
A convenience package adds keyless start, stop and entry, as well as Audi's music interface and better smartphone integration. The sport package on the other hand, adds sportier front seat, a driving mode selector and a flat bottom steering wheel with shift paddles. A sport suspension is also available that reduces the ride height by 15 mm.
The Premium Plus trim adds 18-inch wheels, aluminum interior accents, Audi side assist, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and keyless entry. The Prestige package, meanwhile, includes everything in Premium Plus, as well as an S-line exterior body kit, a navigation system, Audi connect and LED headlights.
Option packages on the Premium Plus include a technology package that features Audi Connect PRIME and PLUS, a navigation system, Audi's side assist system with rear traffic alert and what Audi calls their "virtual cockpit," which is a digital display in the instrument cluster featuring a view of the road ahead as well as plenty of relevant driving information.
The RS3 is, in its way, a separate beast. Besides the tremendous engine, the RS3 comes with a unique red-stitched Nappa leather interior as well as 19" 5-arm wheels, full LED headlamps, RS-specific fascias and diffuser and magnetic ride suspension.
Safety features on all the A3 models include anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system. Airbags include advanced driver and passenger front airbags, knee airbags, thorax side airbags as well as side curtain airbags. An anti-theft alarm system comes standard, while Active Lane Assist, Audi Pre-Sense automatic braking and adaptive cruise control are all optional on the A3 Prestige.
Longer, wider and meaner than before, the 2022 Audi RS3 is small but mighty. It bursts out of its flared fenders with 401 horsepower and boasts a new electronic rear differential that enables a drift mode. I was able to put the RS3's new capabilities to the test on the road, track and skidpad, and it's every bit as impressive as I expected.
Tapping unlock on the RS3's key fob sends the front and rear LED lights into a welcome dance that culminates with a fun "R-S-3-checkered flag" in the driver's-side front lights. As always, Audi paid particular attention to lighting technology, with sequential LED turn signals at either end and Matrix LED headlamps unique to the RS3.
The RS3 largely retains the understated, geometric styling of the A3 and S3 sedans upon which it's based, but closer inspection reveals major tweaks that boost both performance and visual aggression. The RS3 rides nearly an inch lower than the base A3, its wheel arches flared significantly to make room for meatier wheels and tires. On top of that, the front track is 1.6 inches wider than the previous RS3's. Air outlets cut into the rear of the front flares further emphasize the wideness and help to cool the RS3's brakes.
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