British magazine Auto Express decided to pit the Audi A3 against the BMW 1-Series and Mazda3. They selected evenly priced diesel-powered versions of the cars, with the A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI SE costing £21,445, the 116d SE priced at £21,360 while the Mazda3 SKYACTIV-D SE-L priced at £21,145.
The most powerful car was the Japanese contender with a 2.2-liter turbodiesel producing 150 bhp while the BMW 1-Series has a 116 bhp 2.0-liter and the Audi A3 is the least punch of the trio, with a smaller 1.6-liter generating 110 bhp. The Mazda3 was not only the best in terms of engine refinement but it also proved to be the quickest one which means nowadays you can buy a mainstream hatchback with a decent amount of standard equipment for just about the same money you would have to pay for a premium model with less kit.
Although looks are subjective, many will appreciate the Kodo design language of the Mazda3 while the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series have the no-frill German appearance which for some may seem to be a bit boring. It’s the same story on the inside where the Mazda3 brings a little something extra compared to the perfectly executed yet a bit dull cabins of the Germans.