Cost of motoring: Focus vs Astra

  • What costs more to run? Ford's Focus or Vauxhall's Astra?
  • Why you must consider the total costs, not just price
  • Compare running costs with our Cost of Motoring tool

When you've narrowed down your new car choice to two models it can be difficult to work out what's best.

Most people usually start out with the obvious questions. Which one costs more, which one comes with the most equipment, and so on.

What many don't consider, however, is the total cost of motoring. That's how much the car is going to cost you in total, over the course of your ownership.

The Parkers Cost of Motoring tool makes things easy by doing the maths for you. You simply enter the cars that you're interested in, your yearly mileage and how long you intend to own the car. It then takes into account all the costs of running that car and calculates the total ownership cost. You can even add the cost of your insurance, if you know what it is.

Say, for example, you were considering buying either a Ford Focus or a Vauxhall Astra. They're two very similar cars so picking between them can be difficult. The Parkers Cost of Motoring tool, however, could help you make your decision by showing you how much you could stand to save by choosing one over the other.

We've selected two similarly-priced models to demonstrate the difference in ownership costs. The below figures, in a screenshot from the results page of the Cost of Motoring tool, are based on three years/30,000 miles of ownership.

This shows that you could stand to save £1,587.83 by buying and owning a Focus, over an Astra. The Ford is, however, marginally more expensive to buy than the Astra - it costs £18,585, compared to £18,385. Even so, taking that into account, you'd still be looking at saving £1,387.93 in the long run. That's thanks to the Ford's stronger residuals, meaning less depreciation, and lower running costs.

There are other benefits to picking the Focus. It comes with more equipment, including alloy wheels, Bluetooth and a heated front windscreen. The Focus is also quicker and more economical. It can return a claimed average of 67mpg, compared to the Vauxhall's 62mpg. The sprint from 0-62mph is dispatched in 10.5 seconds, with the Astra taking an additional 1.3 seconds to reach the same speed.

Admittedly the Ford will be more costly to insure, thanks to a higher insurance grouping. On the plus side, however, it's fractionally cheaper to tax - due to lower emissions. The Focus will set you back £20 a year, the Astra £30.

This doesn't necessarily that mean you should run out and buy the Focus. You may not like it for personal reasons, or have an affiliation with a particular brand or dealer that you'd like to maintain. You may have also seen a good deal on another car, saving you more money initially.

It does, however, demonstrate how important it is to consider as much as you can when you're looking to buy a new car particularly if you've narrowed it down to a handful of choices. One, even if it's cheaper to buy, may end up costing you considerably more than others in the long run.

You may even find that the car with the higher list price could prove cheaper to own. Arm yourself with as much information as you can, and pick carefully.

Note: The Cost of Motoring tool is updated constantly so the figures may change according to market conditions.

Parker's Top Tip

You can compare both new and used car running costs by using our Cost of Motoring tool. If you're thinking about changing your car then find out what it's worth by getting a Used Car Valuation, and research the replacement cars that might interest you in our New Car Reviews section.