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New Mercedes-Benz A-Class vs Audi A3 Sportback vs BMW 1 Series

Mercedes’ new A-Class promises to dazzle you with luxury as it renews its battle with the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series at the top end of the family car class

Words By What Car? team

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Audi A3 Sportback

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security

Haggle a bit and you can knock around Β£2000 off the list price of all three, but that still leaves the A-Class putting the biggest initial dent in your wallet. That’s not the end of the story, though. Weigh up the other financial factors involved – servicing, insurance, fuel and resale values – and the 1 Series is priciest to run over three years by Β£374 over the A3 and Β£924 over the A-Class. That turnaround is mainly due to the fact that the A-Class holds its value better.

Mind you, because both Audi and BMW are offering substantial deposit contributions with PCP finance deals, the A-Class will cost you a lot more if you buy that way: Β£90 per month over the 1 Series and Β£64 over the A3. Yet if you’re looking at a three-year lease, the A-Class is cheapest and the 1 Series priciest, although the gap between them is relatively small.

The A-Class will cost you the most to run as a company car, but the extra outlay for a 40% taxpayer over three years is just Β£661 in comparison with the 1 Series and Β£721 over the A3.

Whichever car you choose, you’ll probably want to delve into the options list. You get the basics as standard, including electric windows plus a few niceties, such as climate control and LED headlights, but that’s about it.

In the A3 and 1 Series, you can pretty much add the bits you want individually, although Audi’s Technology Pack (Β£1395) is worth considering for the Virtual Cockpit dials and upgraded infotainment system it brings. In the A-Class, most of the things you’ll want are available only as part of pricey bundles. That’s fine if you happen to want everything that particular package includes, but it works out jolly expensive if not. Want heated seats? You’ll need to fork out Β£1395 for the Executive Line Pack. A rear armrest? That’ll be Β£2395 for the Premium Line Pack.

The A-Class has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, but it comes with the most safety kit, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assist. Even more features will be available with the Driving Assistance Pack (Β£1695), but you can’t order that until the end of the summer.

Both the 1 Series and A3 received five-star NCAP ratings, but way back in 2012, so they wouldn’t score as highly under today’s more stringent tests. AEB is a Β£200 option on the A3 and part of the Β£390 Driving Assistant Pack on the 1 Series (which also includes lane departure warning)..

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