The BMW 1 Series is impeccably built, comes with a lovely interior and excellent engines which are both fuel efficient and powerful. It’s the only hatchback to come with rear-wheel drive and, as a result, offers some of the best thrills in the class.
It’s a great car but the BMW might not be to everyone’s liking. Not everyone wants a car that’s so focused on driver enjoyment to the detriment of comfort and some drivers might miss the better all-weather ability offered by front-wheel drive cars.
The Volvo V40 offers slick looks and one of the comfiest interiors on the market. It shares much of its platform with the Ford Focus meaning it drives well – being sharp and agile when required yet comfortable and refined when the pace slows. It even offers a 187hp 2.0-litre diesel which averages 74.3mpg, emits 99g/km of CO2, yet can sprint to 62mph from rest in just seven seconds.
It’s front-wheel drive so the the V40 isn’t as likely to get stuck in adverse conditions as the 1 Series and its suspension has been tuned for comfort rather than the BMW’s firm sense of control.
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The Audi A3 comes with one of the best interiors known to man – some reviewers go as far as saying it matches those found in some Bentleys. It comes with a plethora of great engines including a plug-in hybrid e-tron and is extremely refined and very comfortable, especially in SE trim with the softer suspension.
If you prefer performance but aren’t sold on the M135i, Audi builds the S3 which is derived from the VW Golf R. It matches the 1 Series on price and performance so whichever A3 you choose, it’ll be a worthy alternative.
See the discounts available by speccing up an Audi A3 in our car configurator.
The Peugeot 308 – like the Volvo V40 – is an upmarket, classy car that focuses more on comfort and refinement rather than outright driver entertainment. That’s not to say the 308 isn’t good when the road gets twisty – it’s lighter, wider and lower than the car it replaces so tackles corners in a composed and competent manner. The weight loss not only aids handling but helps with fuel efficiency and performance too. For example, the 1.6-litre BlueHDi 120 diesel averages 88mpg, emits 84g/km of CO2 yet completes the 0-62mph sprint in 9.7 seconds.
Spec for spec, the 308 is cheaper than the 1 Series and this is apparent in their cabins. The 308 is unquestionably nice to sit in with a minimalist design, but the BMW feels the better quality item and uses more plush materials. The 308 is the more practical machine out of the two, though.
Pick your ideal Peugeot 308 in our car configurator to see what offers are available.
Even though the Ford Focus is only available with front-wheel drive, it’s arguably as entertaining to drive as the rear-driven BMW thanks to a sharp and agile chassis combined with predictable steering. It’s also comfortable, refined and comes with an array of strong engines to suit all kinds of journeys.
Performance fans should take a look at the more powerful Focus ST which gets a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 247hp. If you spec the ST wisely, it could set you back pretty much the same amount as a mid-spec 118d meaning you get much more bang for your buck.
Choose your perfect Ford Focus in our car configurator to see how much you could save.
Based on the A-Class hatchback, the Mercedes GLA crossover is a wider, taller and longer vehicle providing extra levels of space and extra ground clearance plus optional four-wheel drive. Inside, it’s very similar to the A-Class meaning a high quality fit and finish. It comes with an array of efficient engines and, with the extra ground clearance, it’s more comfortable than the standard A-Class hatch.
If you want something more potent, Mercedes offers the GLA 45 AMG which houses a monster 355hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. Overall, the GLA is slightly more expensive than the BMW but is a more rounded everyday package that’s suited to a wider range of buyers.
See the potential savings by speccing up your ideal Mercedes GLA in our car configurator.
Disagree with us? Then pop the BMW 1 Series in our car configurator to see how much carwow could help you save. For more options, head over to our deals page or, if you’re still struggling to pick your next car, check out our car chooser.