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2022 Audi S3 - A Red Rocket

a very red 2022 Audi S3, seen from the rear as it is speeding down a road.

This Red Rocket is forever stuck in Future Glenn’s shopping list.

You’d have to be a fellow Audiphile to spot the exterior differences between the A3 and the S3 - the 105 extra horses are well hidden behind the honeycomb grille.

By Glenn Oyoung

Mon, Oct 31, 2022 11:19 AM PST

Last month I had the chance to review the 2022 Audi A3 and revisit the start of my almost three-decade love affair with the Four Ring’s entry-level sport sedans. At the end of my week with the A3, I thought that when the kids are grown and I am in a downsizing mode, the A3 should be at the top of my consideration set..

Well, scratch that! The S3 has taken its place on Future Glenn’s shopping list.

You’d have to be a fellow Audiphile to spot the exterior differences between the A3 and the S3. There’s no widebody action, power bulge hood, or yellow shipping protectors to signal to John Q. Public that the S3 is packing more power – 105 horsepower, to be exact – than the A3. The biggest tell, besides the S badging itself, is the honeycomb grille because, obviously, more airflow means more power.

front grille of a red 2022 Audi S3, as reviewed by LACar
The front grille of the 2022 Audi S3. (image: Glenn Oyoung)

Our fully-loaded tester came equipped with the Black Optic Package, which as the name suggests, blacks out some elements to give a more formidable appearance. The exhaust tips, mirror housings, roof, and other bits get the ninja treatment. This package notably includes an upgrade to 19” split-five-spoke wheels that punch up the S3’s look over the A3. The S Sport Package consists of red brake calipers behind those machined wheels and a sport suspension with damper control.

image of the side of a very red 2022 Audi S3
The S3 was the perfect ride to take to Formula Drift Irwindale (image: Glenn Oyoung)

Open the door, and you immediately know you’re in S territory. With the Fine Nappa Leather package, the upgraded seats come with softer leather and diamond contrast stitching. Not only did the seats look uh-mazing (I’m talking corporate sibling Lambo territory), but they were simultaneously super comfortable and supportive during spirited driving. This package also features “carbon atlas structure inlays,” which I had to Google. I have concluded that’s how you say “sporty-looking faux carbon fiber” in OEM-speak.

In the entertainment arena, the Bang & Olufsen sound system with 3D sound is fantastic The base A3 sound system is no slouch, but step up to the Technology package and it sounds like Bon Jovi is livin’ on a prayer right there with you as you shoot up freeway on-ramps.

image of the interior of the 2022 Audi S3, featuring the diamonds sticking on the seat-back.
Diamond, contrast-stitching, and embossed – the Seat Trifecta (Image Courtesy Audi)

Performance is where the S3 sets itself apart from its more entry-level counterpart. Lighten your wallet by about $10k, and you get the aforementioned 105 incremental ponies out of the same 2.0 TFSI inline-four engine. The Audi engineers hard tuning work results in a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds in the S3 compared to 6.6 seconds in the A3. In addition, handling is tighter, the turbo lag is reduced, and the brakes bite harder.

Aside from the boost in speed, my favorite part of the driving experience in the S3 was the sound. This little rocket gives out a growly, backfirey (that’s a word, right?) suburban racecar sound that says very politely, “Please move out of the way.” Stoplights were an invitation to blip the throttle just to hear the engine spool up. I can only imagine what the even more powerful RS3 sounds like.

image of the interior front seat of the 2022 Audi S3 as reviewed.
Interior of the 2022 Audi S3 (Image Courtesy Audi)

Alas, the thing with loaners is you must return them. At the end of my week, as I handed the keys to the wonderful DriveShop boys, I commented that this was a hard car to give back. My insurance broker is probably glad I’m not tooling around town in a 306-horsepower ground-based jet fighter – but give me time. At the end of the ICE-powered car era, if there were one hot sedan to snatch up before we go all-EV, the S3 would be right up there at the top of my consideration set.

MSRP: $44,900

Price as tested: $55,890

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About The Author

Glenn Oyoung's profile picture

Glenn Oyoung

Glenn Oyoung is a marketer based in Los Angeles. Glenn’s lifelong passion for cars is rooted in playing with Hot Wheels, and has continued into 1:1 scale. He’s the former marketing director of American Racing, author of ‘vehicular alphabet books’ “C is for Car” and "P is for Petersen" in collaboration with the Petersen Automotive Museum. His passion for cars extends to his role as the founder of the monthly car meet Carcadia at Route 66, the most diverse car meet in the San Gabriel Valley.

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