Group test: Used Mini Coupe v Peugeot RCZ v Volkswagen Scirocco

Group test: Used Mini Coupe v Peugeot RCZ v Volkswagen Scirocco
Group test: Used Mini Coupe v Peugeot RCZ v Volkswagen Scirocco

They’re all glamorous, but which used coupe should you buy?

Coupes are the antithesis of the mainstream humdrum hatchback. And coupes derived from regular hatchbacks deliver the best of both worlds – sensible running costs combined with head-turning looks. Add in a powerful turbo engine and you’ve the makings of a great all-rounder.

These three secondhand coupes are exemplars of the breed. Even though the Mini Coupe isn’t a classical beauty, it’s a blast to drive, particularly in tuned-up JCW guise. The Peugeot RCZ is even prettier and even more practical, while the Volkswagen Scirocco has brilliantly combined Golf-like sensibilities with a distinctive bodyshell for years. Now all three can be bought for less than £10,000, we decided to see which is best.

Mini Coupé John Cooper Works

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new: £23,795
Price today: £9000
Power: 208bhp
Torque: 192lb ft
0-60mph: 6.9sec
Top speed: 146mph
Fuel economy: 39.8mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 165g/km

Driving experience

The Mini JCW is, as you’d expect, riotous. The powerful engine delivers fireworks and the super-sporty chassis is incredibly direct. The fact Mini combines this with a firm but still supple ride is icing on the cake. It’s a better compromise than the Peugeot, which has a trembly ride and handling that’s only really at home on smooth roads.

At least its engine is civilised, although the VW betters even this refinement with its grown-up 2.0-litre. Similarly, its handling is grippy and precise, but supple and undemanding with it. Perhaps not the most exciting approach, but the easiest to live with on a day-to-day basis.

Volkswagen Scirocco 2.0 TSI 210 GT

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol
List price when new: £24,705
Price today: £10,000
Power: 208bhp
Torque: 207lb ft
0-60mph: 6.5sec
Top speed: 149mph
Fuel economy: 38.2mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 172g/km

Interior

The Scirocco’s Golf-derived interior is also well-built, straightforward to use and has practicality not far shy of the popular hatchback either, be it in the front, rear, or in the boot.

Not so the Mini, which is strictly a two-seater, albeit one with an OK boot. The dashboard is charming but haphazard, the low-slung driving position could use more adjustment and visibility is poor. It’s better up front in the Peugeot, but although it gets rear seats, they’re really cramped and uncomfortable (the boot is better, luckily). Its 308-derived dashboard is humdrum but there are a few neat touches that give it a bit of a lift.

Running costs

Although all three cost less than £10,000, the hardest to track down for that money will be the Scirocco, thanks to VW’s strong retained values. The Mini will vary much more in price, due to the amount of specification configurability offered to new owners, meaning the popular Peugeot will prove the cheapest to pick up.

It’s the cheapest to run too, with marginally the best fuel economy, although they’re all within a few mpg of one another. There’s more variation in servicing prices, with the VW topping the list here: Peugeot dealers can be surprisingly competitive, and the RCZ also has the best reliability record. The VW isn’t bad, but the Mini Hatch upon the Coupe is based has an abysmal dependability record.

Peugeot RCZ 1.6 THP 200 GT

Engine: 1.6-litre petrol
List price when new: £25,945
Price today: £8500
Power: 141bhp
Torque: 203lb ft
0-60mph: 7.5sec
Top speed: 141mph
Fuel economy: 42.1mpg (Official average)
CO2 emissions: 159g/km

Verdict

Coupe buyers, however, are unlikely to care. They buy cars because they want to have fun: the Mini is flawed, and only has two seats, and can be hard to track down for a decent price, but it’s still easily the most rewarding car here to drive, and thus the one we’d put our money into. The Scirocco is the more sensible alternative for those who want a premium-feel coupe that still looks sharp and drives well, leaving the Peugeot trailing in third place. The RCZ may be stylish and affordable, but the drive simply isn’t up to scratch.

Price today is based on a 2011 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

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