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Friday, January 27, 2006

Audi A3: Comparison test against BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Audi A3
Ok, to make a long test short: the Audi A3 won this comparison test easily which doesn't come as a surprise for us. But you should read how easily he defeated the first place.
The cabins
First prize here goes to the Audi. Its handsome, beautifully rendered dashboard sets it apart from its rivals. The Audi feels like a special, quality product for which it's worth paying a premium. Inside, there's just enough room for a quartet of average-sized adults, and the trunk is adequate.

The engines
All three models are available with a wide range of engines. The A3's gasoline range kicks off with a 101-horsepower, 1.6-liter inline four and culminates in a 247-hp, 3.2-liter V6. But in Europe, the diesel models are the most popular and Audi's 2.0 TDI, which boasts 138 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, is a terrific combination of performance and economy.

Our test car was fitted with the normally aspirated 2.0 FSi gas four-cylinder, which is shared with the VW Golf. When this engine was first introduced, it was criticized for a lack of refinement, but a series of subtle tweaks have helped its cause. With 148 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque, it's unlikely to worry a dragster, but it's competent — zero to 60 mph takes 9.1 seconds.

Conclusions
The 2006 BMW 1 Series is great to drive, but it's too flawed in too many areas to be a great car in this category. It's also prohibitively expensive: a sensibly equipped 1 Series costs 3 Series money, which makes it almost irrelevant. The 130i M Sport pictured here retails for over £30K (about $50K U.S.), which is madness.

The 2006 Mercedes-Benz A-Class has much to commend it. It's spacious, practical and impressively versatile. This is no sports car, but it's a pleasing drive and the cabin quality in the second-generation car is much improved. It's not impossible to imagine this car doing well in the U.S., especially in metropolitan centers. The sandwich structure really works and it looks different enough to have some fashionable appeal.

The 2006 Audi A3 is arguably the best all-round proposition for a buyer in this category. It's more engaging to drive than the Mercedes but much less compromised than the BMW. It also has the best cabin and Audi's image has skyrocketed in recent years.


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Source: Inside Line

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