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

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 vs BMW 1 Series vs Mercedes A-Class rear

Our verdict

One might initially assume that, with its sporty rear-wheel drive setup, the BMW 1 Series is the best car to drive. However, that's not true – not with the lacklustre diesel engine tested here, at least. It also can't match rivals on practicality, leaving its top-notch infotainment system and cheaper price as its main plus points. It comes third here nonetheless. 

The sheer wow factor of the Mercedes A-Class’s interior will sell it to many, yet a comfortable ride and tidy handling give the A-Class real substance too. It's a great used buy, despite being the priciest car here and not being that well equipped.

The more affordable Audi A3 Sportback also feels a little lacking when it comes to equipment. That said, it remains our number one choice. It's more solidly built and even more of a delight to drive than the A-Class, plus it has a more practical boot and a more user-friendly infotainment system.

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1st – Audi A3 Sportback

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

What Car? says 4 out of 5 stars 

Read our full used Audi A3 Sportback review >> 

Find an Audi A3 Sportback for sale >>


2nd – Mercedes A-Class

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

What Car? says 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full used Mercedes A-Class review >>

Find a used Mercedes A-Class for sale>>


3rd – BMW 1 Series

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

What Car? says 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full used BMW 1 Series review >>

Find a used BMW 1 Series for sale >>


Specifications: Audi A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 115 S line

Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
Power 114bhp
Torque 184lb ft
0-60mph 10.2sec
Top speed 125mph
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
0-60mph 10.7sec
Top speed 124mph
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
0-60mph 10.4sec
Top speed 125mph
Fuel economy 68.9mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions 111g/km

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