BMW 1 Series Vs Audi A3: Moneyshake Compares< Back to blog
The BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 are two premium family cars that you can get your hands on without breaking the bank, but which one is the best? We compared these two German hatchbacks to help you decide on the right model for you.
Read on to find out how the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 compare when it comes to design, equipment levels, driving experience and cost.
First off, we have to start with the look of both these cars.
The BMW 1 Series is far less radically styled than the Audi A3, which will be more appealing to some people than others. Mainly it’s to do with that huge grille on the A3’s face, sleeker LED headlights and bigger, bolder intakes.
Meanwhile, the 1 Series is still a sporty model, yet has a bit more subtle class about its look. That signature kidney grille is still there and hasn’t been replaced by the more ‘out there’ one you find on the 4 Series. There are also a pleasing number of muscular body lines that may not be as prominent as the A3’s, but are certainly enough to let you know you’re driving something with sporty pizzazz.
Structurally, there isn’t much separating the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 when it comes to size.
- BMW 1 Series dimensions: 4,319mm (length) x 1,799mm (width) x 1,434mm (height)
- Audi A3 dimensions: 4,313mm (length) x 1,785mm (width) x 1,461mm (height)
As you can see, the 1 Series is slightly longer, wider and taller than the A3. Both models have exactly the same boot space too, so you’ll find that a lot of the 1 Series’ extra practicality over the A3 is in passenger space in the front and back.
Moving round to the back of these cars and we really like the heavily styled look both the 1 Series and A3 pull off. We’re especially fond of the sportier versions of these models (S Line for the A3 and M Sport for the 1 Series).
These trims add smart 18″ alloy wheels to give them more of a presence. Similarly, both cars get a set of more aggressive bumpers that, barring the range-topping hot hatch M135i and RS 3, are our pick of the range on looks alone.
Interior design and space
It’s hard to pick faults with the interior designs of the BMW 1 Series or the Audi A3, but there is an outright winner here, in our opinion.
The 1 Series comes with a solid build quality that doesn’t have as much ‘wow-factor’ as the A3 or Mercedes-Benz A-Class. However, what it lacks in flashy trims and tech, it makes up for with soft-touch materials and a real feeling that you’re sat in something with lots of quality.
That’s not to say the Audi A3 doesn’t feel well put together – it does. There’s also a much more futuristic feel in the cabin thanks to Audi’s Virtual Cockpit which digitises the usual analogue clock dials behind the steering wheel.
With regards to the infotainment system, the 1 Series is the standout model because of the very intuitive iDrive system. The rotary dial that comes with it is much easier to use on the move, whereas the A3’s system is touchscreen only.
Up front there’s little to separate the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, though the 1 Series has the most headroom by far of any of its rivals. However, even those over six-foot won’t be complaining in the front of the A3.
It’s the rear passengers that will have a better experience in the BMW 1 Series than in the A3. That’s because the latest third-generation model has progressed over its predecessors, throwing in some more room for those who find themselves in the back.
There’s not a massive amount of difference between the space in the back of the Audi A3, though. A couple of six-footers could sit back there and not have their knees pressed up against the front seats, yet there isn’t a load of room to stretch out like there is in the Skoda Octavia. But that car knows a thing or two about space.
What about the boot then? Well, at 380 litres, both the A3 and 1 Series are matched for room in the cargo. Both models don’t have much of a load lip either, which makes it much easier to load heavier items into the back without having to awkwardly lift it higher.
Performance and price
Out on the road, the BMW 1 Series isn’t as quick off the mark as the Audi A3 when you look at their standard engine range. The 118i 136bhp petrol unit in the 1 Series isn’t as quick as the A3’s 35 TFSI 150bhp engine (0-60mph in 8.5 seconds versus 8 seconds in the Audi).
But where the Bimmer does come up trumps is in its handling. Going into corners with a bit more zip is possible in the 1 Series because the handling is extremely responsive and light. The A3 meanwhile has a more supple ride compared to the 1 Series when you select sportier trims like the S Line and M Sport.
There’s a bit more weight about the A3’s steering too which makes it predictable and engaging.
If you’re considering the hot hatch versions (M135i and S3) of these cars, you should know that the latter is quicker in a sprint (0-60mph in 4.4 seconds versus 4.6 seconds) than the former. But the M135i does have the loudest exhaust note out of the two of them, which can be a selling point if you’re after a bit of show-off character from your vehicle.
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