Buying and owning
Costs, equipment, reliability, safety and security
List price matters a lot here, but not because many people will be looking to pay for these cars with cash; instead, a low price combined with low CO2 emissions is the best way to keep your monthly company car tax payments to a minimum. It’s a shame for the Mazda, then, that it has the highest list price of our contenders; it will cost you the most each month in benefit-in-kind tax. Assuming you’re in the 40% tax bracket, the Skoda will save you only £3 a month, though, while the Vauxhall, the cheapest and lowest CO2 emitter here, undercuts that by a further £7.
Companies looking to lease these cars will find a different running order, with the Skoda costing the least by a big margin and the Vauxhall the most. However, company car drivers paying for their own fuel will appreciate the fact that the Vauxhall proved the most frugal in our real-world True MPG tests, even though the Mazda and Skoda weren’t far behind.
Buying privately? The Mazda makes little sense, because its heavy depreciation and high insurance premiums make it the most expensive in the long run – and by a big margin. Big discounts and relatively slow depreciation will make the Skoda cheapest to own privately over three years.
There’s more bad news concerning the Mazda: it has by far the least standard equipment and very few options are available. Vauxhall has been far more generous, although you might still want to add the Winter Pack for £660, bringing heating for the front seats, steering wheel and windscreen for those frosty winter mornings. Likewise, the Skoda has a long list of standard kit, foregoing the Vauxhall’s keyless entry and start (it can be added for £400) but getting standard part-leather seats and electric seat adjustment instead.
Crash safety body Euro NCAP awarded each car the maximum five stars, but that’s not the full story. The Vauxhall scored the best marks for adult occupant protection (the Skoda fared worst), while the Skoda was awarded the best score for child protection, with the Mazda bringing up the rear. The Mazda is also the only one of our trio to not come with automatic emergency braking, which detects objects at lower speeds and applies the brakes to avoid a collision.
Meanwhile, the Insignia comes with the most safety aids; it’s the only one with lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition as standard.
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