Used test: Audi A1 vs Mini hatch vs Volkswagen Polo

Used small cars with three-cylinder engines are frugal, fun and all the rage. But can the Audi A1 or VW Polo steal the Mini's thunder?

Words By What Car? team

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Used Audi A1 vs Mini Hatchback vs Volkswagen Polo

Our verdict

All three cars puts up a strong case for themselves: the Volkswagen Polo is the most comfortable and cheapest to buy, the Audi A1 is the best-handling and most reliable, while the Mini has the biggest boot and the most equipment.

But the first to fall is the Polo; the Bluemotion version isn’t fuel efficient enough to justify its poorer handling compared with the A1. This version is also difficult to find on the used market and therefore cannot win this test. In SE spec, it might have stood more of a chance.

The Mini, on the other hand, is everywhere on the used market, so finding a tidy Cooper model with the Pepper pack should be quite easy. If you have to carry a child’s buggy, the extra boot space will be welcome. It’ll also out-run the A1, thanks to an extra 40bhp and a good slug of additional torque.

Unfortunately, that additional performance dents fuel economy, making the Mini the most costly to run. Visibility is also an issue, due to thick rear pillars and a small back window.

That doesn’t mean the A1 walks this test. The Sport variant comes with sports suspension as standard and has an uncomfortably firm ride. This can be improved if the car was ordered with the softer dynamic suspension. What can’t be improved is the price. Thanks to its desirability, the A1 is Β£1000 more expensive than the Mini.

Because of this price difference, victory must go to the Mini. The higher running costs are negated by its lower purchase price, and once you take that out of the equation, you are left with only minor negatives that you’ll probably learn to get used to over time.

Read our review of the new Mini hatch

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Also consider:

1st – Mini hatch

For Strong performance; practical boot; agile handling

Against So-so fuel economy; road noise; poor rear visibility

Verdict Great fun and now surprisingly good value

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Mini hatch review

Find a used Mini hatch in the What Car? Classifieds

2nd – Audi A1

For Great driving position; sweet engine; low fuel costs

Against Cramped rear space; not as fast or flexible as the Mini

Verdict An ideal blend of low running costs, high-end feel and fun handling

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Audi A1 review

Find a used Audi A1 in the What Car? Classifieds

3rd – Volkswagen Polo

For Spacious interior; refinement; comfortable ride

Against Short of grip; flat seats

Verdict Engine is spot-on, but Bluemotion trim less so

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full used Volkswagen Polo review

Find a used Volkswagen Polo in the What Car? Classifieds

Specifications: Mini hatch 5dr 1.5T Cooper Pepper

Engine size 1.5-litre petrol

List price when new Β£17,289

Price today Β£11,000*

Power 134bhp

Torque 162lb ft

0-60mph 8.9sec

Top speed 129mph

Fuel economy 60.1mpg (official average)

CO2 emissions 109g/km

Specifications: Audi A1 Sportback 1.0 TFSI 95 Sport

Engine size 1.0-litre petrol

List price when new Β£16,950

Price today Β£12,000*

Power 94bhp

Torque 118lb ft

0-60mph 10.9sec

Top speed 116mph

Fuel economy 67.3mpg (official average)

CO2 emissions 97g/km

Specifications: Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI 95 Bluemotion 5dr

Engine size 1.0-litre petrol

List price when new Β£15,410

Price today Β£9500*

Power 94bhp

Torque 118lb ft

0-60mph 10.5sec

Top speed 119mph

Fuel economy 68.9mpg (official average)

CO2 emissions 94g/km

Price today is based on a 2015 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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