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2023 Audi A3: Choosing the Right Trim

The 2023 Audi A3 and S3 compact sedans deliver the full measure of Audi performance and luxury, but on a smaller scale with an affordable price tag. Competitors like the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz A-Class rival the A3 on paper, but some buyers might even cross-shop the A3’s cousin, the Volkswagen Golf GTI, which provides similar interior dimensions with the versatility of a hatchback.

While the A3’s entry-level pricing is attractive, you’ll need to move to the more expensive trims to get the features many luxury buyers demand. The S3 delivers the same proportions but with a more powerful engine and better suspension. If performance is king and cost is no option, the 401-horsepower Audi RS 3 will delight.

The 2023 Audi A3 has standard front-wheel drive (FWD) and a 201-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) tacks on a $2,000 premium and comes standard on the S3 and RS 3.

2023 Audi A3 40 Premium (starting at $34,900)

With its sub-$35,000 starting price, the A3 Premium gets you in the door, but its lack of some basic luxury features may be a deal-breaker, even for the budget-conscious. However, there is still much to like about the base A3, starting with its safety equipment.

A suite of driver aids helps the A3 avoid potential accidents. Forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection, low-speed automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warning are included. Automatic high-beam headlights are standard, as is Audi Pre Sense Basic, which prepares the cabin for impact by closing the windows and sunroof and tensing the seatbelts.

Going beyond the mandated airbag requirements, the A3 adds front side-impact and side-curtain airbags and rear side-impact airbags.

The A3’s exterior styling sees enhancements with standard features like aluminum window surrounds, 17-inch 5-arm alloy wheels, full LED headlights with daytime running lights, dynamic LED turn indicators, and power heated side mirrors. Rain-sensing wipers automatically activate when sensing rain, mist, or snow on the windshield.

As attractive as the A3’s exterior is, it’s the car’s cabin that impresses most. Sitting in the 8-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with its 4-way power lumbar support, the driver views a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster that mimics an analog speedometer and tachometer while also displaying various vehicle status and infotainment information.

The front passenger also enjoys an 8-way power seat with 4-way power lumbar support, while rear-seat passengers sit on a 40/20/40-split-folding seat with a center armrest. The rear seat area includes two USB-C charging ports, rear air vents, and a climate control panel, which is part of the standard tri-zone automatic climate control.

Additional amenities include keyless entry and push-button start, a panoramic glass sunroof, leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel with paddle shifters. Audi’s standard cruise control uses a stalk controller behind the steering wheel and can be upgraded with adaptive cruise control through the Function on Demand app as a one-time purchase.

A 10.1-inch touchscreen serves as the infotainment, backup camera, and vehicle systems display, allowing access to various features such as the Drive Select settings. Drive Select allows the driver to change throttle response, transmission shift points, and steering feedback.

On the audio side, the A3 includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Audi Connect Care offers subscription-based services such as remote locking/unlocking, stolen vehicle locater, and emergency services. A 6-speaker Audi sound system comes standard.

The A3 Premium offers a few upgrade packages, the most complete being the Convenience Package. Check this option box, and you’ll gain Advanced Key keyless entry with proximity key fob, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, an alarm system with motion sensor, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and SiriusXM 360L satellite radio.

Also included are a wireless charging pad, memory for the driver’s seat and mirrors, and Audi Park Assist, which can automatically parallel or perpendicularly park the car.

The Black Optic Sport Package adds 18-inch bi-color alloy wheels (with five Y-shaped spokes), black exterior trim, and a sport suspension that lowers the car by 15 mm.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi A3 40 Premium costs $35,995. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $647. See 2023 Audi A3 Premium models for sale

2023 Audi A3 40 Premium includes:

  • 8-way power front seats – This allows the driver and passenger to find the perfect seating position and includes 4-way power lumbar for improved lower back support.
  • Tri-zone climate control – Gives front and rear-seat passengers complete control over their heating and cooling preferences.
  • Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay – Negates the need for a cable and an open USB port, allowing wireless connectivity with a smartphone’s apps, music, and navigation.
  • Panoramic sunroof – Provides more light in the cabin, helping the somewhat cramped A3 interior feel more open and airy.

2023 Audi A3 40 Premium Plus (starting at $38,500)

Building off the A3 40 Premium with the Convenience Package, the Premium Plus adds adaptive cruise control with lane guidance, LED interior lighting, and Agate Gray birch wood inlays.

Premium Plus buyers can upgrade with the Technology Package, which includes some of Audi’s best tech features. The package contains a configurable 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit with several different themes and displays and doubles as the MMI (Multi Media Interface) navigation display.

The package includes traffic sign recognition and a 6-month trial to Audi Connect Prime. You also get a brilliant 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi A3 40 Premium Plus costs $39,595. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $711. See 2023 Audi A3 Premium Plus models for sale

2023 Audi A3 40 Premium Plus includes:

  • Adaptive cruise control – Maintains a set distance from the vehicle ahead, slowing and accelerating as traffic flow changes. The system also includes lane guidance that keeps the car centered in its lane.
  • Advanced Key keyless entry – With the proximity key fob in pocket, touching the door handle is all that is required to unlock or lock the doors.
  • Park Assist – This system can use its ultrasonic sensors to steer the A3 into a parallel or perpendicular parking spot. The driver is required to operate only the shift lever and brakes.
  • Available Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system – As one of the world’s best audio manufacturers, Bang & Olufsen delivers the A3’s audio with 15 specially-tuned speakers, providing exceptional sound reproduction.

2023 Audi S3 Premium (starting at $45,900)

If you’re looking for better performance and a more enthusiast-oriented interior, the S3 Premium has you covered. It gains a 306-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and standard quattro AWD. In zero to 60 mph runs, the S3 shaves about two seconds off the A3’s time, clocking in at 4.5 seconds.

Building off the A3 Premium’s standard equipment list, the S3 Premium adds sport front seats, a lowered sport suspension, black brake calipers, and a black headliner.

The S3 rides on 5-spoke flag-design 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with run-flat summer tires. Additional S3 upgrades are a body-colored rear spoiler, Alu-optic mirror caps, headlight washers, stainless steel pedals, and revised steering ratios.

In addition to the A3 40 Premium’s Convenience package, the S3 offers 18-inch all-season tires or 19-inch wheels shod with non-run-flat summer tires.

The Black Optic Package also features 19-in summer tires, along with black exterior trim, black exhaust tips, a black roof, and black mirror caps.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi S3 Premium costs $46,995. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to approximately $844. See 2023 Audi S3 Premium models for sale

2023 Audi S3 Premium Plus (starting at $48,800)

The S3 Premium Plus includes all features from the S3 Premium and A3 Premium Plus.

Options include Nappa leather upholstery, the Technology Package, the Black Optic Package, and the S Sport Package, which features red brake calipers and an adaptive sport suspension.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi S3 Premium Plus costs $49,895. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $897. See 2023 Audi S3 Premium Plus models for sale

2023 Audi S3 Prestige (starting at $52,800)

As its name suggests, the Prestige trim represents the top-of-line S3. It includes all the S3 Premium Plus features combined with the contents from the Technology Package.

The S3 Prestige then adds animation for the LED Matrix design headlights and a head-up display.

As with the Premium Plus, the Black Optic Package, Nappa leather upholstery, and the S Sport Package are available options.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi S3 Prestige costs $53,895. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment comes to about $968. See 2023 Audi S3 Prestige models for sale

2023 Audi S3 Prestige includes:

  • Head-up display – Projects vital information onto the windshield, allowing the driver to see speed, navigation, and speed limit posts without taking their eyes off the road.
  • Headlight washers – Provide an easy way to clean the headlights without having to stop and wipe away dirt and mud.
  • Virtual Cockpit – Audi’s brilliant digital cockpit features configurable screen themes and can double as the navigation screen.
  • Available S Sport Package – Adds an adaptive suspension for better performance when driving aggressively.

2023 Audi RS 3 (starting at $59,000, estimated)

The most powerful of the A3 line is the Audi RS 3. Offered in only one trim, the RS 3 brings to the table a 401-hp 2.5-liter turbocharged inline 5-cylinder engine and quattro AWD.

The RS 3 contains all the features in the S3 Premium Plus but offers unique upgrades like an adaptive sport suspension, RS 3 sport seats, and special paint options. The Virtual Cockpit features reconfigured screens designed for the RS 3’s track-inspired intentions.

The RS 3 touts unique exterior styling cues, with a more aggressive front end and headlight treatment, a wider stance, and flared front fenders with large air vents.

In addition to the Technology Package, the RS 3 offers the RS Design Package Green featuring seat trim in green faux suede (called Dinamica), green edging on the seatbelts, air vent center bars in green, and RS 3 floor mats with a green logo and piping.

The Dynamic Plus Package adds ceramic front brakes with red brake calipers, steel rear brakes, a carbon-fiber engine cover, and a 180-mph speedometer.

Other options include a blind-spot monitor, carbon-fiber exterior styling elements, Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires, and a sport exhaust with black tips.

With the $1,095 destination charge, the 2023 Audi RS3 has an estimated price of around $60,095. On a 60-month loan at 3% financing and zero down, the monthly payment works out to about $1,080. See 2023 Audi RS 3 models for sale


What is the best 2023 Audi A3/S3?

Whether you go with the luxury-oriented A3 or performance S3, we’d pick the Premium Plus trim and add the Technology Package. You can go further, but this combination gives plenty of technology and luxury upgrades while keeping the price in the mid-$40,000 range for the A3 and just under $50,000 for the S3.

How many miles per gallon does the 2023 Audi A3/S3 get?

The front-drive Audi A3 earns an EPA estimated 29 mpg city/38 mpg highway/32 mpg combined. The same engine with quattro all-wheel drive achieves 28 mpg city/36 mpg highway/31 mpg combined.

And the S3? It gets 23 mpg city/32 mpg highway/27 mpg combined, while the potent RS 3 is rated at a respectable 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway/23 mpg combined.

Which 2023 Audi A3/S3 offers the most safety?

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has crash-tested the 2023 Audi A3/S3. However, in testing the 2020 A3, the IIHS found that it performed admirably, awarding it a Top Safety Pick honor.

We expect the 2023 Audi A3/S3 will provide excellent safety in the event of an accident. With its robust suite of standard and optional driver assists, this Audi will help you avoid accidents in the first place.

Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo
Joe Tralongo is a longtime contributor who started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2002 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He’s well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to translate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations. Joe has worked for a number of outlets as... Read More about Joe Tralongo

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