What will they cost?
The headline figures suggest the Toyota Prius is easily the priciest car here, but it’s actually the cheapest proposition for company car drivers. Its remarkably low CO2 emissions mean much lower benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax charges, averaging £105 per month in the first three years for a 40% tax payer. The Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3, which are still fairly efficient by the standards of the family car class as a whole, average £125 and £148 respectively.
Private cash buyers will also reap the rewards of the Prius’s superior fuel economy, stronger resale value and lower servicing costs. The Golf is cheapest after discounts and costs the least to insure, but the Prius is still the cheapest to own over three years. Budget around an extra £1900 for Golf and an extra £3100 for the Mazda 3.
Indeed, fuel economy is the Toyota’s trump card. The 62.5mpg averaged by the Prius in our True MPG test is well short of the official 94.1mpg economy figure, but it easily beats the Mazda’s 53.6mpg and the Golf’s 51.8mpg.
The Prius is also the cheapest to lease at £231 a month, whereas the Golf costs £234 and the Mazda 3 £263. However, on PCP finance the Prius is the priciest at £287 a month over three years – the Mazda 3 and Golf both cost just over £20 less. All of these deals assume a £3000 deposit and 12,000 miles a year.
All three are equipped with alloy wheels, Bluetooth, a DAB radio, adjustable lumbar support and some form of cruise control. However, the system in the Prius is adaptive, so it can automatically maintain a set distance from the car in front. Toyota is also alone in fitting LED headlights (Mazda provides xenons and Volkswagen regular halogens) and keyless entry, although this only works on the driver’s door.
While the Prius is the only one with a reversing camera, you have to pay (£495) extra for parking sensors, whereas Mazda fits rear sensors as standard and the Golf has them front and back. The Golf and Mazda 3 also have sat-nav (a £750 option in the Prius), but it’s disappointing that the Golf doesn’t have automatic emergency city braking.
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