Audi A4 Avant vs BMW 3 Series Touring vs Mercedes C-Class Estate

In estate form, the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class are all practical and stylish load-luggers. But which is best?...

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What Car? team
25 April 2016

What will they cost?

Over a three-year period, there’s £614 between the cheapest and most expensive of these cars in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax costs for company car drivers, with the Mercedes C-Class Estate costing the least at £8704 (an average of £242 per month) for a 40% tax payer. At the other end of the scale, total tax for the BMW 3 Series Touring is £9318 due to its higher CO2 emissions. There’s barely anything in it for leasing costs, though: they’re all around £420 a month.

Audi A4 Avant vs BMW 3 Series Touring vs Mercedes C-Class Estate

Despite offering the biggest discounts from new – almost £4400 – the 3 Series is still expected to dish out the most painful depreciation to private buyers, shedding nearly £17,000 over three years; you’ll lose less than £16,000 on the others. The C-Class is predicted to lose the least, but it costs the most to insure and has significantly higher servicing bills, leaving the Audi A4 Avant the cheapest in the long run for cash buyers.

Those buying on finance will spend the least each month on the C-Class. Put down a £5000 deposit on a three-year PCP deal (with an annual mileage of 12,000) and you can have it for £376 a month. The A4 will cost you £391 and the 3 Series £426. All these deals require you to pay a sizeable 'balloon' payment at the end of the agreement if you want to own the car outright, but most buyers use this point to switch cars and start a new finance agreement.

Audi A4 Avant vs BMW 3 Series Touring vs Mercedes C-Class Estate

The C-Class is better equipped than both of its rivals, with parking sensors at both ends rather than just the rear, a reversing camera and even a self-parking system. In fact, you’ll need to spend around £2000 on the A4 or 3 Series to match the Merc’s kit list. The C-Class does miss out on the sporty styling touches that many buyers will want, but you can upgrade to AMG Line spec for a reasonable £1495 to add a bodykit, bigger wheels, sports suspension and interior trim. So, however you look at it, the C-Class packs in the most equipment for your money.

All our estates have a three-year warranty, although there’s a 60,000-mile limit on the A4 in the third year while the other two impose no mileage restrictions.