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

Buy any of these premium hatchbacks at four years old and you'll be able to get them for a bargain price. But which is best?...

Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class side

Buying and owning

Costs, equipment, reliability, safety

The Mercedes A-Class would have cost you the most when bought new in 2018, and it remains the priciest car four years later, at £19,000. The Audi A3 is considerably less at £16,500, while the BMW 1 Series is the cheapest car here, at £15,500. All three cars have lost around £10,000 of their value over the four-year period, meaning (if these trends continue) that the 1 Series remains the most financially viable. 

The trio are almost equally good on fuel. The A-Class has an official average of 68.9mpg, while the A3 comes in at 67.3mpg and the 1 Series at 65.7mpg. In terms of insurance groups, all sit in the mid to high teens, so they should be relatively cheap to insure, although not as cheap as rivals from non-premium brands. Road tax costs will be the same for all three – currently £155 per year.

2018 BMW 1 Series side

Reliability-wise, in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey, the 1 Series came first out of 24 cars in the family car class. However, that was in petrol form – it didn't feature in diesel form. The A3 also only appeared as a petrol, and ranked 16th. The A-Class proved the worst of the lot, placing last. In the brands table, BMW came highest, in 13th place out of 30 car makers, beating Audi in 18th and Mercedes in 22nd. 

The A-Class received a five-star safety rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2018, which is perhaps not surprising as it comes with the most safety kit, including automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assist.

The 1 Series and A3 both received five-star NCAP ratings, but way back in 2012, so they wouldn’t score as highly under today’s more stringent tests. AEB was an option on the A3 and part of an optional £390 Driving Assistant Pack on the 1 Series (which also includes lane-departure warning). It’s worth checking if the used car you’re looking at has these very useful options fitted.

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