Audi has been selling what seems like a zillion A3s as of late (though we’ll forget about the TDI ones being cancelled) and is quickly becoming the most popular car in its segment, nudging out the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class. Those two are really the only two cars in the premium compact sedan segment, as the competition from BMW is a two-door coupe, the 2 Series. Well, BMW wants to get in on the mix and is developing a new car to do so, at least in China.
BMW recently unveiled its Compact Concept Sedan, which many sources are claiming to be the prelude to a future 1 Series sedan. It’s been said that this upcoming sedan will be for the Chinese market only, but plans of it coming westward have yet to be shot down. The 1 Series sedan will likely be built on BMW’s front-wheel drive UKL architecture, the same one that underpins the BMW X1, 2 Series Tourers and MINIs. So that would put this 1 Series sedan squarely in the mix with the Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA Class. So let’s take a look at how the upcoming BMW 1 Series sedan might stack up against the current Audi A3.
Firstly, the Audi A3 is a perfectly fine-looking sedan, however, it’s getting a bit boring looking. Despite it being relatively new, there’s never really been anything about the A3 that stood out. It’s a great-looking sedan that, when equipped properly, can look premium and sophisticated. However, it’s a bit bland and doesn’t distinguish itself much from anything else in the Audi line up.
The BMW 1 Series, at least in concept for, on the other hand looks quite handsome. It has some truly interesting lines and has its own distinct look without losing the BMW corporate design theme. It’s a good-looking car. It also looks more muscular than the Audi A3. The A3 is a bit slab-sided and from a far doesn’t look much different from a Volkswagen Jetta. The BMW 1 Series concept has quite a lot going on, with the integrated duck-tail spoiler built into the trunk lid and the “sawed off” twin-circle headlights that point toward the grille. BMW clearly pulled out all the stops on the design.
On the interior, it’s much the same. Looking at the Audi A3’s interior and it’s hard to find fault. It’s handsome, well laid out, is made with superb materials and even gives a more youthful and sporty feel than the rest of the Audi lineup. However, it’s a bit boring looking and there really isn’t anything that pops or stands out. The 1 Series Concept has an interior that’s genuinely exciting. You can see that the center stack design, as well as interior trim, was taken right from the BMW flagship 7 Series. The ambient lighting is a very nice touch and the interior just overall has more life too it. It’s an odd day when a BMW interior is more interesting that an Audi’s.
Admittedly, this BMW is still in concept phase, so of course there’s going to be tons of crazy designs to get us interested in the car. But it does look quite close to production and having been in numerous BMW interiors lately, it doesn’t seem that far off. If BMW can deliver on all of the promise of this compact sedan, the Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class should start to get worried.