Used test: Audi A3 Sportback vs BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes A-Class - verdict

Buy any of these upmarket family cars at a couple of years old and you'll save yourself a tidy sum, but which is the best premium hatch? We have the answer.....

Audi A3 vs BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes A-Class rear

Our verdict

All cars offer a healthy saving on the price of a new one, presuming you don’t mind driving around in what are the previous versions of both the A3 and the 1 Series. 

First to go is the 1 Series. It has always struggled to match the practicality of its key rivals, and it doesn’t even make up for that in the driving. The only good reasons for buying one are its top-notch infotainment system and its marginally cheaper price.

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 a fraction cheaper to buy at this age, as well as having a more practical boot and more user-friendly infotainment.

As a result, this old-style A3 hangs onto its crown. Apart from a shortage of standard safety aids, it’s a brilliant used buy. 

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1st – Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 115 S line

Audi A3 Sportback front - black

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

Against Important safety kit not standard; not very well equipped

4 out of 5 stars

Read our full used Audi A3 Sportback review >> 


2nd – Mercedes A-Class A180d AMG Line auto

Mercedes A-Class front - grey

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

Against Priciest to buy at this age; not especially well equipped

4 out of 5 stars

Read our full used Mercedes A-Class review >>


3rd – BMW 1 Series 116d M Sport 5dr

BMW 1 Series front - red

For Top-notch infotainment system; cheapest to buy

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

3 out of 5 stars

Read our full used BMW 1 Series review >>


Specifications: Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 115 S line

  • Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
  • Power 114bhp
  • Torque 184lb ft
  • Fuel economy 67.3mpg (Official average)
  • CO2 emissions 109g/km

Specifications: BMW 1 Series 116d M Sport 5dr

  • Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
  • Power 114bhp
  • Torque 199lb ft
  • Fuel economy 65.7mpg (Official average)
  • CO2 emissions 114g/km

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

  • Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
  • Power 114bhp
  • Torque 192lb ft
  • Fuel economy 68.9mpg (Official average)
  • CO2 emissions 111g/km

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