Written by Tim Marsh:
Entry level luxury may be even more affordable than you think. If you’re looking for luxury on a budget, we suggest adding the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3, and BMW 1 Series to your list of vehicles to consider. Read on for our in-depth comparison of these three cars to find out which one is the best choice for you and your wallet.
Exterior and Styling
All three of these vehicles offer something different when it comes to the exterior look. The Benz has an arrow-shaped front with distinctive lines on the side, the BMW 1 Series has fewer curves and more of a dominant, upright position, and the Audi A3 has a sporty, elegant design with dynamic lines. At the entry level, all three cars are hatchbacks, although unlike the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Audi A3 offers an entry level sedan for just a few thousand dollars more.
Interior and Comfort
Overall, the A-Class has a nice luxury interior with a lot of attention to detail. Leather-look seats and a leather steering wheel come standard, and it has more leg room in the back seat than the other 2 cars. However, the curved roofline does limit the headroom in the back. On the other hand, the 1 Series has more headroom but the least leg room in the back seat. It does, however, have the largest display (6.5″) and an illuminated entry and exit feature. Though it has some nice tech features, the look of the interior isn’t as modern or luxurious as the A3 or A-Class. Lastly, the Audi A3 gets high marks with its perfectly matched plastics, easy-to-use controls, and bright display that rises from the dash board. Like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a leather steering wheel and leather-look seats come standard on the A3.
Under the Bonnet
The Audi’s entry level hatchback has a petrol engine, but you can upgrade to a diesel for about $1,000 more. To upgrade to diesel in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series, you’re looking at about $5,000 to $6,000 more. At their lowest price points, the Audi is slightly more fuel efficient than the other two vehicles (4.9 L / 100 Km compared to 5.8). The 1 Series has the most powerful engine of the bunch (100 Kw), although that’s certainly nothing to boast about.
On the Road
Like other BMW models, the BMW 1 Series gives you an engaging ride, making it the most enjoyable to take on winding roads. Furthermore, its rear-wheel drive allows for a better turning radius and other impressive road dynamics. The Audi A3 is the smoother ride, although the steering is a bit too light at lower speeds. Overall, though, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has the least impressive ride, as it doesn’t handle road imperfections too well and has a large turning radius.
All 3 cars have a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, but the A-Class has the most impressive list of features, including 9 airbags, Active Parking Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, a reversing camera, and PRE-SAFE Accident Anticipatory System. The 1 Series and A3 do have some impressive standard safety features as well including the 1 Series’ Parking Distance Control and Central locking with crash sensor and Audi’s Parking System and speed sensitive steering.
Value for the Money
The Mercedes-Benz A180 and Audi A3 Attraction are $1,300 cheaper than the BMW 116i at the base price of $35,600. The slight edge goes to the Audi when it comes to value due to its combination of features and the fact that they offer a sedan starting at under $40,000.
Although it has a quality interior and impressive standard safety features, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a few more drawbacks than the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3. Go for the 1 Series if you want the more engaging ride and the Audi A3 if you want a smooth ride with a more elegant and sporty look.
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