2022 Audi S3 Sportback review (video)

Josh Bennis

Fast, German hot hatches are some of the best on the market. They’re usually loud, bold in looks and have very suave interior and exteriors. The 2022 Audi S3 has hit Australian shores again after a short lay off for a couple of years. Packing a sharper, more mature look, the new S3 is jammed full of fruit and clever performance. Is it the best all-rounder in this space?

Under the bonnet is the familiar EA888-based 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder which has now been uprated since the last S3. It’s now producing 228kW and 400Nm. This is the first time Aussies get full European power figures. It’s put to the ground through a quattro all-wheel drive system, shooting the S3 from 0-100 in a claimed 4.8 seconds.

Priced from $70,800 for the Sportback hatch, or from $72,900 for the sedan (plus on-road costs), the S3 sits above the platform-sharing Volkswagen Golf R ($65,990) and alongside the BMW M135i xDrive ($72,900) and the Mercedes-AMG A 35 ($82,000). All prices exclude on-road costs.

2022 Audi S3 Sportback – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 228kW@5450-6500rpm / 400Nm@2000-5450rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Drive type: All-wheel drive
Wheels: F & R: 19×8.0, 235/35
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1545kg
Power-to-weight: 6.77:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 7.4L/100km
Economy during test: 8.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 55L/95 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 30.81kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.42 seconds*
0-100km/h: 4.76 seconds*
0-200km/h: 17.41 seconds*
3.12 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.04 seconds at 176.8km/h*
Max acceleration: 1.060g
100-0km/h braking: 2.85 seconds at 37.48 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.155g
Decibel at idle (/Dynamic mode): 43/46*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 87/89*
Priced from: $70,800[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 Audi S3 Sportback – THE PACKAGE

Stepping inside the S3 you’re greeted with typical Audi lavishness. It’s a nice place to be, let’s get that straight. The fit and finish is top notch, and everything seems to just fall to your fingers.

Right in the centre of the dash is a 10.1-inch touch-screen which can dial up the powerful 680-Watt Bang & Olufsen stereo, while exclusive to the S3 is a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Plus digital gauge cluster which allows you to swap between various display content combinations.

The driver’s seat is low slung and hugs you more than well enough when you’re pushing the S3 in the corners. The style of the seats is very sporty for a non top flight model (the RS 3 is the big dog of Audi hot hatches, and features insane seats). These also provide decent width and length to support larger people and help with long-distance comfort.

The B-pillar is way to close to the driver in our opinion. It seems to be a trend nowadays where cabins feel like they’re bulkier and more confined. We understand there’s a lot of equipment to fit into cars nowadays, but where does the bulk start to become a hindrance? The bulk also makes it quite tight to get in the car, too. Especially when you’re 194cm – like this reviewer.

The glasshouse on the car is amazing, you get a really good sense of the surroundings. Even with the driver seat set quite low you get a great view out the front window. One feature that would add a lot to the S3 would be a panoramic glass roof. It’s a $2600 option.

The optional 19-inch Audi Sport wheels fitted to this test vehicle really make the S3 look like it’s going flat out just sitting still. Audi S3s have always had a brave colour palette, and it’s no different with this new model. We must say, the Python Yellow paint here gives off the impression that this is a special edition. Or at least it must have because lots of people commented how striking the car looked in the interactions we had.

In this Sportback model boot space sits at 325 litres, some 45 litres less than the sedan. It also offers less than the previous S3 (340L) even though the car itself looks larger than any model before it. You’ll easily fit four adults and some shopping in the back, but if you plan on doing some touring tell the back passengers to pack (very) light. And maybe skip being mates with basketball players.

2022 Audi S3 Sportback – THE DRIVE

In terms of drivability and the different drive modes, we drove mostly in dynamic mode. This proved to be a nice sweet spot in keeping the car feeling sporty with some added noise and a sharper feel to everything. In efficiency mode you can kind of forget that the S3 is a 4-second to 100 car, but in dynamic and even comfort mode you constantly want to smash the loud pedal just for the fun of it.

It’s a beefy power delivery with a beefy sound, which, after a few drives, you figure out is mostly fake noise put through the speakers to no doubt make it sound more like its big brother, the RS 3.

With its peak 400Nm of torque delivered from just 2000rpm, the low-end surge is quite brutal but kept nicely in check thanks to the Haldex-based all-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The car is simply fuss free when it comes to moving from point A to point B with pace. It has got that slight heavy front end feel through the steering that so many Audis have, but it’s still very easy to manhandle through a set of twists and turns. The rapid gearbox, sudden torque delivery and relentless grip make it an exciting drive any time of day and in all weather conditions.

The standard adaptive suspension is something that’s no doubt been dialled in for Europe because it does feel a touch rigid in dynamic mode here in Australia. Nonetheless, it’s important to point out the ride is comfortable and most of all, poised when in comfort mode. This is a car you could happily use as a daily driver.

Audi seems to pride itself on having showy brakes – it must because its brake packages always look 11/10. Much like the many other behaviours of the S3, the brakes are beefy and seemingly cop whatever you can throw at them.

There’s plenty of pedal feel, though we wouldn’t say best in class. We clocked the 100-0km/h emergency stop in 37.48 metres. On the same strip of tarmac we’ve seen the BMW M135i xDrive need 37.06 metres, and the Mercedes-AMG A 35 (sedan) require 36.48 metres. Obviously this only speaks of one-off stopping performance and doesn’t really paint the full picture in terms of longevity or fade resistance. But it’s a decent guide.

2022 Audi S3 Sportback – THE VIDEO

2022 Audi S3 Sportback – THE VERDICT

The return of the Audi S3 is warranted because this is a car that’s been a staple premium hot hatch nameplate for years and years. The latest version might look a bit more techno than some previous generations, that often had more understated styling, there’s no denying it looks fast sitting still.

As ever, the new S3 is a brilliant all-round performance machine that’s great fun in all weather conditions, and it can undertake daily routine tasks with the pleasantness and dignity that Audis are renowned for.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Reachable/useable all-weather performance
– Hectic 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo, as standard
– Striking design especially with Python Yellow paint
– Decent fuel consumption for something that is this quick
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Feels a tad front-heavy when pushed hard
– Smallish boot and door entry for its class
– Lost some of its traditionally understated character in terms of design?[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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