Now that the BMW 1 Series is here and has made the chassis switch to front-wheel drive, it’s competing in an entirely new arena for the BMW brand. While the Bavarians have made premium hatchbacks before, they’ve always been rear-wheel drive-based, giving them a uniquely different taste. Now, though, the 1 Series powers the same axles as every other premium hatch, all of which come from brands that have been doing so for much longer. So is the new 1er good enough to take on an established rival, such as the Audi A3, for example? In this new video from AutoTrader, Rory Reid breaks it down.
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Being that there’s a bit of a Coronavirus outbreak going on, he can’t exactly test both cars out in the real world. Instead, Reid breaks down their specs, their cost and what they’re like to drive, using his pre-existing knowledge of both cars.
The two cars are obviously very similar in terms of spec, power, performance and cost. To make it as even as possible though, Reid looks at the BMW 118i and the A3 35 TFSI. That gives them both 1.5 liter engines, manual gearboxes and low price tags. Using those specs, the Audi A3 is the slightly more powerful, every-so-slightly faster car. Yet, it’s also the most economical. While its fuel-burning advantage is small, it’s significant in that its engine is also more powerful.
However, the BMW 1 Series fights back with better options, a lower price tag for a well-equipped model and, in Reid’s opinion, better looks. It’s a tough decision as they’re both good cars but, as Reid mentions, the choice will come down to brand preference and cost.
I’ve personally driven neither, so I can’t judge on which is better to drive (though, I have driven the 2 Series Gran Coupe and that’s mechanically identical to the 1 Series). However, if i had to choose purely from a sheet of paper, it’d probably be the Audi, to be honest. I think it looks better, has a cooler interior, is a touch faster and more economical and Audi has been doing front-wheel drive for longer. So, to me, it seems like the A3 is the better choice. Having said that, it wouldn’t surprise me if the 1 Series turned out to be the much better driving car, as A3s have never been particularly thrilling.