‡ Fuel The VW has the worst average fuel consumption of 45.6mpg, the 5 Series the next best at 55.4mpg and the 3 Series the best at 60.1mpg.
Even though petrol is cheaper than the diesel that fuels the BMWs, you'll spend most on unleaded for the VW over 12,000 miles. It'll cost 1334 a year, or 4002 over three years. The 5 Series is next at 1163/3489 and the 3 Series is best at 1072/3216.
‡ Insurance The Golf wins through on insurance, however. As it's in group 16, it will cost around 870 over three years compared with quotes of 1200 for the 3 Series and 1350 for the 5 Series.
Since the value of the used BMWs is significantly less than when new, the insurance costs are lower than they would be when they were new, but the VW is still impossible to beat here.
‡ Servicing Again, the VW is the cheapest with costs of 461 from new over three years. The 3 Series is likely to cost 900 to keep happy while you should budget around 1000 for the 5 Series.
‡ Tax and MOT Higher emissions means the Golf falls into the higher band F for VED so, over two years after initial purchase, it will cost 250. The 3 Series has the best emissions and will cost 270 for three years and the 5 Series will cost 310.
You'll also need to budget around 70 for two MOTs on the 3 Series and 100 on the 5 Series.
‡ Warranties Buying new means you'll have three years of warranty cover and peace of mind with the VW. There'll be a year left on the 3 Series, so if you wanted protection for the remaining two years you should budget for around 800 and 1100 for three years' cover on the 5 Series.
‡ Resale values It should be pleasing for prospective used BMW buyers to know that the first owner will have taken the biggest hit in depreciation in the first two years of ownership. You'll have to go through this pain if you buy the new VW.
Both of the BMWs are likely to be worth 9000 after another three years on the road which compares extremely well with the Golf which is worth 1000 less at 8000 after three years.
‡ Overall The 3 Series should prove the cheapest over three years with running costs of 5456, but it only just undercuts the Golf's 5583 figure by just 127 and the 5 Series' 6349 total by 893.