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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Our verdict

It was obvious during testing that the 1 Series was trailing behind, even in areas where you might expect it to do well, such as handling. It has always struggled to match the practicality of its key rivals, too. The only good reasons for buying one are its top-notch infotainment system and relatively affordable PCP payments.

The others both make compelling cases for themselves. The A-Class’s interior alone will sell it to many, yet its comfortable ride, tidy handling and practicality give it real substance too. However, the A3 is competitive in all these areas while also being better built, even more of a delight to drive and cheaper to buy, as well as having a more practical boot and more user-friendly infotainment.

As a result, the A3 hangs onto its crown. Apart from a shortage of standard safety aids, it remains difficult to fault.

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1st – Audi A3 Sportback

For Incisive handling; well-controlled ride; fine driving position; outstanding finish; intuitive infotainment

Against Important safety kit not standard; not very well equipped

Recommended options Technology Pack (Β£1395), Audi Pre-sense Basic (Β£200)

Rated 4 out of 5

Read our full Audi A3 Sportback review

Find a great Audi A3 Sportback deal

2nd – Mercedes-Benz A-Class

For Supple ride; feature-laden infotainment; dazzling interior; strong resale values; safety kit

Against Priciest to buy on PCP finance; restrictive and expensive options packs

Recommended options Executive Line Pack (Β£1395)

Rated 4 out of 5

Read our full Mercedes-Benz A-Class review

Find a great Mercedes-Benz A-Class deal

3rd – BMW 1 Series

For Top-notch infotainment system; strong reliability record; cheapest on a PCP

Against Lacklustre performance; least comfortable ride; unremarkable handling; tight rear space; least refined

Recommended options Driving Assistant Pack (Β£390)

Rated 3 out of 5

Read our full BMW 1 Series review

Find a great BMW 1 Series deal

Specifications: Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 115 S line

Engine size 4cyl, 1598cc, diesel

List price Β£27,385

Target Price Β£25,329

Power 114bhp @ 3250-4000rpm

Torque 184Ib ft @ 1500-3200rpm

Gearbox 6-spd manual

0-60mph 10.2sec

Top speed 125mph

Gov't fuel economy 67.3mpg

CO2 emissions 109g/km

Specifications: BMW 1 Series 116d M Sport 5dr

Engine size 3cyl, 1496cc, diesel

List price Β£26,675

Target Price Β£24,556

Power 114bhp @ 4000rpm

Torque 199Ib ft @ 1750-2250rpm

Gearbox 6-spd manual

0-60mph 10.7sec

Top speed 124mph

Gov't fuel economy 65.7mpg

CO2 emissions 114g/km

Specifications: Mercedes-Benz A-Class A180d AMG Line auto

Engine size 4cyl, 1461cc, diesel

List price Β£28,540

Target Price Β£26,676

Power 114bhp @ 4000rpm

Torque 192Ib ft @ 1750-2500rpm

Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic

0-60mph 10.4sec

Top speed 125mph

Gov't fuel economy 68.9mpg

CO2 emissions 111g/km

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