Should I Upgrade to an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series?


Hi John,

The wife currently drives a 2012 Golf 118tsi comfort line. She is thinking about 'upgrading' to an Audi A3 1.4 TFSI cod or a BMW 116i. What are your thoughts?




Hi George,

My default position on this is: that's not an upgrade. These cheap German cars are a joke. All you get is the badge. Take a look at my videos on the Mercedes-Benz A Class Vs Mazda3 Astina. (I know this sounds like a joke, but stick with me - all these cheap German cars are the same: the value proposition is woeful.)

Same thing here: the fully loaded Mazda CX-5 Akera diesel Vs Audi Q3.

At this end of the market, the Germans strip all conceivable equipment from the cars to compete with the Japanese on price. And they're also not built as well - especially the Audi. Volkswagen Group products have significant quality issues.

If I was you, or your wife I would want to know this. At least then you can go into the deal with your eyes wide open, knowing exactly how much you're really paying for the badge, and how much equipment you're really losing just to display a notionally premium badge on the vehicle.

German cars aren't good value unless you spend $100k on them. (Volkswagen: $60k.) Below that, they're a con. And they don't build them as well as the Japanese either. 

Here are the full specs on the Audi A3 TFSI S tronic. (It's $38,900 plus on-road costs.)

Here are the full specs on the BMW 116i. (It's $35,600 plus on-road costs.)

Just do me a favour and compare this to the full specs on the Mazda3 Astina hatch. Look at the power output, price - but especially compare the standard and optional features. You'll be spending nearly $60k to equip either of the two German cars the same as the Mazda. It's embarrassing. And the Mazda is just as good a drive plus built better. Fully-loaded Mazda3 Astina: $38,190 plus on-roads.

I've presented the specs here on all three cars in a directly comparable format, so you really can see what you're missing out on if you tick the 'German' box.

Now, if you still decide to do the German car thing: the BMW every time.

PS: Mazda was used for comparison in the stories above because it's the Japanese car company really at the top of its game in relation to the product.

I know this is probably not what you want to hear about your proposed 'upgrade', but I really believe it's a waste of money.