Mercedes-Benz has brought a piece of formerly forbidden fruit to the U.S.: the A-Class sedan. Its design is purposeful. Not only does it properly convey the Mercedes aesthetic, but according to the automaker, it also has the lowest drag of any production car. When it goes on sale later this year, it will compete with the austere Audi A3. So which is the design king? We examine the differences between the two models below.
The A-Class has a planted stance, and that starts up front with the low-slung hood. It also has narrow, angled-in headlights similar to the CLS-Class and a wide grille. This grille features a diamond pattern that gives off a 3D effect. On the Audi A3, the grille is taller and features more conventional bars. The headlights aren’t as stretched out as those on the A-Class, making the entire front end look less wide. Character lines that run across the A3’s hood are more subtle than those on the A-Class. The cut line of the hood extends all the way to the grille on the A3, but it stops short on the A-Class.
From the side profiles, you’ll find more differences. The character lines across the A-Class are more fluid, while those on the A3 are linear and structured. The roofline also tapers off more sharply on the A-Class. Although they’re direct competitors, their dimensions are pretty different. The Mercedes is 3.6 inches longer and, incidentally, its wheelbase is also 3.6 inches longer. It’s also 1.2 inches taller than the A3.
There is a protruding rear lip on each vehicle, although it’s a little more chiseled on the A3. The taillights of the A-Class feature a Y-shaped signature, and the ones on the A3 emphasize the strong horizontal lines in the rear. Small vents to the side of the rear bumper add visual interest to the A-Class.
When it comes to interiors, both models have their own strengths. Mercedes earns extra points for its widescreen display that incorporates both the instrument cluster and infotainment system into one unit. Buyers can also opt for an ambient lighting system that illuminates the cabin with their choice of 64 colors. The dashboard on the A3 looks a bit empty, but some may view it as a cleaner design. The A3 offers Audi‘s beloved 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display with Google Map images.