What will they cost?
The Honda Civic is by far the cheapest of the four cars to buy nowadays. About £4000 should be enough to buy you a well-kept 2009 2.2 i-CTDi in ES or SE specification, with average mileage and a full service history. A comparable Volkswagen Golf would set you back around £5500, with the BMW 1 Series coming next at a smidge below £6000, and the Audi A3 the most expensive at around £6500 for a similar car.
Servicing on all three models these days costs roughly the same, with the Civic fractionally cheaper than the 1 Series and Golf, and the A3 fractionally more expensive. The same should be true of parts and labour costs if you need to carry out any repairs.
Will you, though? Good question. The Civic has the best reputation of the four by far, with an impressive score on the What Car? Reliability Index, which rates cars according to warranty claims. The Golf has the next best reputation for reliability, while the 1 Series and A3 both languish with relatively poor scores, the Audi's being the worst of the bunch.
The A3 is also one of the most expensive cars to run here. Its official average fuel economy figure of 55.4mpg is beaten by both the Golf's, at 57.6mpg, and the 1 Series's excellent 62.8mpg. The Civic brings up the rear with 54.3mpg. That story is echoed by these cars' CO2 emissions figures, which are related to fuel consumption; as a result, the A3 and the Civic will both cost the most to tax, at £130/year, and the Golf is slightly cheaper at £110/year. However, the 1 Series is by far the cheapest to tax, costing just £30/year.
All of these cars came reasonably well equipped when they were new, but it was the Civic and the Golf that had the most equipment as standard. What's more, many Civics were purchased in higher-specification EX trim, which brought a host of extra goodies such as sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity and rear partking sensors, so it's worth going for one of these if you can.
That said, the 1 Series and A3 are most likely to have been specified with options when their first buyers ordered them, so there's a better chance of finding a nice example with a few tasty options on it if you go for one of these two.
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