Used test: Ford Focus vs Skoda Scala vs Vauxhall Astra verdict

These second-hand family hatchbacks are all cheap to buy and run, but which is the best buy?...

New Vauxhall Astra vs Ford Focus vs Skoda Scala: verdict

Our verdict

So, the Vauxhall Astra wins because it’s the cheapest, right? Wrong. There are too many niggles that’ll get on your wick. Considering that it's predicted to lose the most value over time and has an engine that's both gruff and easy to stall, as well as noisy motorway manners, a fiddly infotainment system and poor oddment storage, we’d sacrifice a little more of our earnings to get one of our other contenders.

The Ford Focus is far nicer to drive and a lot quieter at higher speeds, and while some will find its ride a bit firm, it’s still comfortable; we only wish it were less plasticky inside and had a better infotainment setup.

Better still is the Skoda Scala. Yes, it will set you back the most, but it’s simply the best car here, with the most accomplished ride, neat handling, a roomy interior and the most generous kit. The fact that it’s also the most fuel efficient in reality seals the win.

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1st – Skoda Scala

Skoda Scala front studio

For Comfiest ride; biggest boot; most spacious for rear passengers; well equipped; best fuel economy
Against Interior materials aren’t as plush as the Astra’s
Verdict Not the cheapest, but a great all-rounder

What Car? rating Five stars out of five

Read our used Skoda Scala review >>

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2nd – Ford Focus

Ford Focus front studio

For Great fun to drive; excellent driving position; refined at high speeds
Against Low-rent interior; infotainment system could be better; firmest ride
Verdict The best car to drive here, but this isn't our favourite Focus

What Car? rating Four stars out of five

Read our full used Ford Focus review >>

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3rd – Vauxhall Astra

Vauxhall Astra front studio

For Plushest interior; pretty comfy; decent rear seat space
Against Engine needs working hard; untidiest handling; smallest infotainment screen; noisiest
Verdict Cheap to buy, but that doesn't offset the drawbacks

What Car? rating Three stars out of five

Read our full used Vauxhall Astra review >>

Find a used Vauxhall Astra for sale >>

Specification: Skoda Scala 1.6 TDI SE L

Engine size 1.6-litre diesel
List price when new £22,065
Price today £17,636*
Power 113bhp @ 3250-4000rpm
Torque 184lb ft @ 1500-3250rpm
0-60mph 9.3sec
Top speed 125mph
Fuel economy 57.7mpg (official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 108g/km

Specification: Vauxhall Astra 1.5 Turbo D 122 SRi

Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
List price when new £23,340
Price today £14,837*
Power 120bhp @ 3500rpm
Torque 221lb ft @ 1750-2500rpm
0-60mph 9.5sec
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 64.2mpg (official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 92g/km

Specification: Ford Focus 1.5 Ecoblue 120 ST-Line

Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
List price when new £23,095
Price today £14,837*
Power 118bhp @ 3600rpm
Torque 221lb ft @ 1750-2250rpm
0-60mph 9.4sec
Top speed 122mph
Fuel economy 61.4mpg (official WLTP combined)
CO2 emissions 93g/km

*Prices today are based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing

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