First luxury sedans, then SUVs and now the Germans are trying their luck with luxury hatchbacks in India. They seem to ignore the Indian belief of big is always better, and target the new generation— with these new entry-level vehicles— that is more brand-oriented than just the size.
The luxury hatchbacks A-Class and 1 Series target the rich India youth, someone who is between 26-30. We drive the two and find out which one is the ideal one and why? Dig deeper as the mystery unfolds.
If a vehicle is being designed to attract the youth, it needs to be appealing in design. It should have the karizma, the appeal factor and also should be available in vibrant yet subtle colours. The BMW 1 Series continues with its family design language as it gets the kidney-shaped front grille and headlamp design similar to the previous generation 3 Series. The side profile of the 1 Series is like a sports car, it has a long hood to accommodate the longitudinally placed engine. The 1 Series silhouette will remind you of a BMW design, while it is the rear design that is new. Unfortunately, the design of the rear can be mistaken for some other German hatch back as the styling is somewhat similar to the Polo, especially in the dark. As an overall, the design of the 1 Series is good however it lacks the attraction that a luxury hatchback buyer will be looking for.Design might be subjective and this might be not the case for someone else. The A-Class on the other hand is appealing and attractive. The 302-diamonds studded grille changes the styling of the A-Class and it is one of the key design USPs. The headlamp design is also similar to the MFA platform vehicles. The side profile is unique in styling and it does feel a lot trendier with the black panoramic roof and stylish rear too. Designers at Mercedes-Benz have ensured that the A in the A-Class stands for attract class. So, the design A-Class wins over the 1 Series.
The interiors are another important place, as one will be spending most of the time inside than just outside. The BMW 1 Series has good quality inside with top notch fit and finish. To our dismay, the styling is a bit more functional and lacks the luxurious feel. The seats are large and are comfortable too. The space in both the rows is sufficient and even the boot is large enough. The visibility offered on the 1 Series is good with a good glass area. The twin dial cluster looks good and even the features on offer are good. The 1 Series gets sun-roof, electrically adjustable both front seats and reverse parking sensor.
The A-Class too has stylish luxurious with the circular air-con vents and high quality interiors. The fit and feel of the materials used is good and at the same time, it even feels luxurious. Not like the C, E or the S but they are luxurious. The A-Class doesn’t fail to impress the youth even with the interiors. The front row seats have the headrest integrated in them and it feels comfortable. The seats however aren’t that comfortable and spacious like the 1 Series. The rear seats have decent knee-room and the boot isn’t as large as the 1 Series. But the A-Class is loaded with more bells and whistles, rear parking camera, satellite navigation, and electrically adjustable driver’s seat. So, in interiors it’s a close call, unless the buyer wants to utilise all the four seats and the boot.
Performance and driving characteristics:
The A-Class is offered with a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine that produces 122bhp of power, while the diesel is a 2.2-litre, 108bhp oil burner. The power produced by the A-Class is decent and it does handle well. You do not feel that the engine is underpowered and it is drivable in city and the highway. Overtaking is also a breeze in both the engines. One reason why the power is so usable is the fact that the engine comes mated to a dual-clutch seven-speed transmission. The petrol is a better performer, but the difference isn’t a lot. The NVH levels are low and even the insulation on the inside is good.
The suspension of the A-Class is good and it doesn’t transfer any shocks into the body. The ride of the A-Class is brilliant and it doesn’t stiffen even on bad roads. The typical Mercedes-Benz ride quality has been retained on the A-Class, despite being the smallest. The handling is good if not phenomenal. The A-Class is a good blend of power, ride and handling.
If you think the A-Class needs more power than the 1 Series is the answer for you. The petrol is a 1.6-litre turbo mill, however it is the diesel that is a 2.0-litre and produces 140bhp of power. This oil burner comes mated to an eight-speed self-shifting transmission. The power produced by the 1 Series is good and this hatchback feels like a go-kart. There is a lot more power than the A-Class and the steering feel is also brilliant. The ride is a bit on the stiffer side, but this has been done to have better handling. The 1 Series definitely has an edge over the A-Class when it comes to performance and driving characteristics.
The A-Class has more appeal while the 1 Series is just a pure fun hatch to drive. It was a difficult decision to make, unless the pricing came into the picture. A fully loaded A-Class cost about Rs 4 lakhs lesser than the 1 Series, and still it offers a lot more features too. Hence, the A-Class is the clear winner as it is a complete package of looks, appeal and power. On top on that, the A-Class comes embellished with more brownies too.