Let’s suppose you’re in the market for a new car. However, you’re looking for a family car, one that would suit the needs of yourself and your loved ones without too much hassle and your budget is around $35,000. Is the BMW 1 Series the first car that pops up in your head? Maybe it’s the Mercedes-Benz A-Class or the Audi A3? I’m going to go ahead and answer no to all those questions because you really can’t consider these small hatches ‘family cars’ in any known universe.
Yet that didn’t stop the people from What Car? in the UK from comparing the three from this point of view. Ever since the new A-Class came out, the 1 Series and the A3 have been compared with it and that’s honestly fine, since they are proper rivals biting at the same niche. However, calling any of these a ‘family car’ is a stretch and it can only make sense if you want a premium car on a limited budget, without caring about boot space or room for your passengers at all.
The cars listed here are also the cheapest in the range as the guys considered that a budget of around 400 GBP per month for a lease would be what you’re looking for. In that case you’ll have to get along with cars fitted with small diesel engines and, in two cases here, a manual gearbox. On budget cars, manual gearboxes are still being offered but the A-Class, for example, comes only with a 7-speed automatic, even in the A180d guise.
The Merc uses a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder diesel engine borrowed from Renault while the Audi and the BMW use in-house developed engines. The former uses a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder diesel while the BMW has a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder used on a variety of cars. And while you may not be impressed with their performance, these are actually some of the best selling models of the hatches in Europe for their efficiency, low price and low taxes. Which one won? You’ll just have to watch the video.