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Mercedes A Class, BMW 1 series or Audi A3?

So, you’ve been tempted by the new Mercedes A Class. But then you think to yourself, “The BMW 1 Series is really quite nice”, and remember that Audi makes a great car, so perhaps you should think about an A3.

The compact car market is a far cry away from the days when a Volkswagen Golf was the automatic choice for those wanting a blend of performance and comfort in a smaller vehicle. Now with the emergence of the sleek looking A class and its killer fuel economy, picking your next hatchback just got harder.

In this review and comparison, we looked at the 1 series 116d Efficient Dynamics, the A3 sportback 1.6 TDI and the A180 Blue Efficiency SE. All 5-door diesel hatchbacks.

On the face of things, these cars stack up pretty evenly. All around the £20,000 mark from new, all similar to insure and all with almost identical performance figures. Picking isn’t getting any easier! I suppose we’d better go for a drive.

BMW 1 series

BMW 1 seriesThe BMW stands out as the only rear wheel drive vehicle in this class, and it really does make a difference on the road. Sharp handling, a ton of grip and incredibly accurate steering are what we’ve come to expect from BMW, and the 1 series delivers.

I worried about the ride quality, needlessly as it turns out. It is firm, but only enough so that you can feel what’s going on. It never affects the comfort of the ride and really makes the most of that BMW handling. Added to all that, it’s spacious, and the back seats are made for proper grown ups.

Audi A3

Audi A3Into the Audi, and the first thing you’ll notice is the great cockpit. It feels so roomy and looks great. The power delivery is smooth and the ride is comparable to the 1 series – really the only difference here is it doesn’t quite have the same feel that you get from that rear wheel drive. I get the impression that if I hadn’t just gotten out of the 1 series, I’d have enjoyed this car far more. The back seats aren’t quite as roomy as the BMW, but the A3 is still a great car.

Mercedes A class

Into the new kid on the block – the Mercedes A180 and amidst all of the hype I’m expecting great things reviewing this! Walking up to the car, it looks absolutely fantastic, and inside, the dash and cabin are ultra modern and sleek – a little sterile for my tastes but the minimalists will love it.

Unfortunately, I’m fast running out of good things to say because, despite the great looks and good performance, the A180 is a huge letdown entirely due to the ride quality. The suspension could be made from granite – a bump in the road has about the same impact on your spine as a bungee jump – and when you get up to speed it feels like the whole car is vibrating. On a super smooth race track I’m almost positive it would be a wonderful drive, but on the A5 it just doesn’t measure up to the superb quality of it’s German cousins.
Mercedes A Class

Our verdict.

It’s really close between the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3, but the RWD handling and that extra room in the back means that the 1 Series is our favourite hatchback.

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