BMW is new to the front-wheel drive hatchback game. The new 1 Series hatch is the brand’s first attempt and it competes in a segment full of veterans. Cars like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus have all been competing in this space for far longer. But the 1er’s biggest rival will likely be this — the all-new 2020 Audi A3 Sportback.
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The Audi A3 has been the longest-running premium hatchback in the segment, having debuted back in 1996. So to say that Audi knows a thing or two about making a premium, front-wheel drive hatchback would be an understatement. Which is why the BMW 1 Series is going to have its hands full, as it needs to go up against the newest iteration of a veteran car in its rookies season. That’s tough.
But since we haven’t driven the new Audi A3 yet, as it was just revealed today, we can only compare the two cars’ styling. So let’s dig into each cars’ looks and see which is better.
From the front, the 2020 Audi A3 Sportback is the sharper looking car. I’m actually not as down on the 1er’s face as most BMW enthusiasts but it’s still not great looking. While the A3 looks sharp, aggressive and very sporty. Its grille is enormous but it sort of works; possibly just because we’re more used to it; its headlights are angular and its air intakes are sporty. While the 1 Series isn’t bad looking, it’s a bit frumpy up front and a bit boring.
In profile, both cars look pretty good, to be honest. But I think I’m going to have to give the nod to the Audi again. Its lines are crisp, its shoulder line is more pronounced and muscular and its overhangs look tighter. In all honestly, we’re not surprised the Audi A3 looks a bit better, as Audi has been making front-wheel drive hatchbacks for a lot longer of a time than BMW, so it has more experience with those proportion and its design language is already set up for it.
Out back, the BMW 1 Series gets a small victory. The two cars are actually extremely similar from behind, with slim taillights, high belt-line and roof spoiler. While I like the Audi’s taillights better, the BMW actually has real exhaust pipes, while the Audi’s are hidden away with fake plastic jobs. That gives the BMW and edge that’s bigger than the taillights.
Inside, the 2020 Audi A3 Sportback gets the win yet again. While the 1 Series looks good inside and has surprisingly good materials, it’s just not very interesting looking. While the new A3 is very exciting and very stylish, with its ultra modern design, crisp lines and slick-looking tech.
Overall, the new Audi A3 is the better looking car. It’s sharper, sportier and more exciting looking. In this segment, car companies are looking to attract youth buyers and the A3 is going to do that better than the 1 Series. There’s no shame in this loss for the 1er, though. This is BMW’s first attempt at such a car and Audi is the veteran in the segment. Not only is the A3 better looking than the 1 Series but it’s just a really good looking hatch and is better looking than everything else in the segment, too.