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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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Audi A1

What will they cost?

Where there is a big difference is in fuel economy; in our real-world True MPG tests, the Audi A1 and Volkswagen Polo averaged 53.4mpg and 56.5mpg respectively, while the more powerful Mini managed just 42.6mpg, adding around Β£1000 more in fuel costs over 36,000 miles. All things considered, the Mini works out the most expensive car to own. Still, it goes some way to making up for that with its generous list of standard kit; it’s the only one of our trio to get climate control and auto lights and wipers.

The Polo is the only one to get cruise control, although it is alone in not providing electric rear windows as standard. It was the cheapest car when new and it remains the cheapest as a used car. You can find a 1.0-litre Bluemotion with 35,000 miles for around Β£9,500. However, at the time this test was written, we could only find one 2015 Polo Bluemotion with this engine. For this reason, we’d recommend looking for the more popular 1.2 TSI petrol instead in SE spec. It isn’t that far off the 1.0 Bluemotion in terms of fuel economy in the real world and it’ll have the same road tax costs as the Mini at Β£20 per year.

The A1 may have the lowest fuel consumption, but it is the costliest to buy, with a 20,000-mile example starting at around Β£12,000. However, it is saved somewhat by free road tax and lower insurance costs.

As previously stated, the Mini is the most expensive car to run here, but it is a useful Β£1000 less to buy than an A1, with a 20,000-mile example starting at around Β£11,000; this will help offset the higher running costs. None of these cars are old enough yet to take advantage for fixed-price servicing, but the A1 has the highest servicing costs of the three. The Mini comes next, with the Polo being the least expensive to maintain. Unfortunately, according to our latest reliability survey, the Polo is the least reliable car and came in a rather disappointing 19th place out of 21 small cars. The Mini finished in 12th place, but the A1 proved the most dependable, finishing in third place in the class.

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