What will they cost?
The VW Polo is much cheaper to buy than its rivals, assuming you’re paying with cash. However, most buyers will opt for a monthly finance agreement, in which case the Audi A1 comes out cheapest; put down a £4000 deposit on a three-year PCP contract and it will cost you £179 per month, compared with £184 for the Polo and £215 for the Mini Cooper.
The Polo, meanwhile, is the cheapest company car. It’ll cost £496 less than the A1 in benefit-in-kind tax (assuming you’re in the 40% tax bracket) over three years and £978 less than the Mini. Leasing costs are between £207 and £217 a month for all three.
Another area where there is a big difference is in economy. The A1 and Polo averaged 53.4mpg and 56.5mpg respectively in our real-world True MPG tests, whereas the more powerful Mini managed just 42.6mpg, adding around £1000 more to your fuel bills over 36,000 miles.
All things considered, the Mini works out the most expensive car to own over three years by a sizeable £1293 over the Polo and £2049 over the slower-depreciating A1. Still, the Mini goes some way to making up for that with its generous list of standard equipment; it’s the only one of our trio to get climate control and auto lights and wipers, and there’s also a choice of three bright no-cost paint colours.
Mini does charge extra for steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, however, when these are standard on its rivals. The Polo is the only one to get cruise control, although VW is alone in charging £170 extra for electric rear windows.
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