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ADAC quality check: disappointing C-Class and A3

The ADAC has re-evaluated 580 car tests - specifically with regard to processing and material quality. The BMW 3 Series is convincing, but two other premium models are weak.

When a model change is due for a car, the enormous technical progress that can be seen in the entire industry is almost always evident. Especially when it comes to drives, electronics and safety, there are usually massive upgrades. But the development and production of the high-tech parts is expensive. And it often costs more money than can be offset by a price increase when changing models. So that the margin is still right, costs have to be saved elsewhere. Which is often at the expense of processing and material quality, as the ADAC has now found out.

At the automobile club, they re-evaluated their tests of 580 car models under precisely these aspects. The cars were not only compared with each other, but also compared to their respective predecessors. The latter in particular brings to light what was described at the beginning, which becomes particularly clear with two premium models: The Audi A3 Sportback and the Mercedes C-Class (see video above this paragraph) perform particularly modestly compared to their predecessors.

"Particularly disappointed" with the C-Class

The Swabian middle-class model "particularly disappointed" the testers, according to the evaluation. "Whereas the material quality of the predecessor still met the highest standards, the dashboard, center tunnel and door panels of the new model are only covered with foamed plastic in the upper area." The impression of the current A3 is hardly better: the door frame panels have been saved, the bare sheet metal is visible under the floor of the trunk and the interior shows partly moderately deburred and flexible plastics. In general, the Volkswagen Group is "on the decline", which is also evident in the A3 sister model, the VW Golf 8.

BMW shows that there is another way. The current 3 Series makes the biggest leap forward in terms of processing quality compared to the previous generation of all tested cars and is also one of the climbers when it comes to materials. With the i3, the 1 Series, 3 Series/4 Series and 5 Series/7 Series, the Munich-based company can place models in the top five in every vehicle category and even win the small car category with the electric car.

Mazda tops, Hyundai flops

The import brands show a differentiated picture. The climbers include the Fiat 500 (in terms of finish) and the Renault Zoe (in terms of materials), both small cars coming from a very low level and now offering at least average quality. A similar picture emerges with the Nissan Leaf, which is among the winners in both categories.The Mazda 3 achieves a particularly strong result: the predecessor achieved an acceptable result (3.5) in terms of material quality, which the current generation was able to raise to a good value (2.5). Among the import brands, the relegation comes from the up-and-coming Hyundai brand. Surprisingly, the new i20 has noticeably dropped compared to its predecessor in terms of both build quality and material quality.

The ADAC evaluates the material and processing quality in its car tests based on 34 criteria. When processing the body, these include the quality of the gap dimensions, a missing door frame panel, rattling doors when the window is open or scratch-sensitive plastics. The material and processing quality in the interior, such as creaking plastic and uncovered sheet metal parts, non-foamed plastics on the dashboard or door panels or roof pillars without a fabric cover, are also evaluated.

Note: We show you the detailed results of the ADAC quality check in the slideshow together with those models that performed particularly well or poorly in the various vehicle classes.


According to the ADAC, it is not possible to generalize whether the overall quality will be better or worse. "The material and processing quality is often exposed to wave movements," says test engineer Alexander Werner. If too much is saved and there is negative feedback from the press and customers, countermeasures are taken with the successor model - the materials used and the processing quality would be better again. That means: With the next Mercedes C-Class or with the upcoming Audi A3 and VW Golf 9 - if it comes at all - customers can adjust to better quality again.


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