A year ago the choice of a winner would have been simple. Volkswagen's all-conquering TDI PD diesel engine would have won easily over a Focus with an old-fashioned diesel engine and an even more aged 306.
But the 307 2.0 HDi 90 GLX took to the streets in October last year, and now Ford has finally bolted an up-to-date common rail diesel unit into the revamped Focus, in the form of the 1.8 TDCi Zetec.
So all three cars are in the top echelon as oil-burners: refined, powerful, economical and desirable. A compact package at a competitive price with a frugal, tax-friendly engine. What more could a company car driver want?
The Golf is the most expensive car here, with a P11D value of £15,185, followed by the 307 at £14,425 and the Focus at £14,210. Contract hire wise, there is a gnat's whisker between them, with the Golf costing £307 a month, the Focus £308 and the Peugeot £309.
The Golf and the 307 are neck and neck on service, maintenance and repair, fuel and depreciation costs, both coming out at a smidgeon under 24 pence per mile.
The Focus costs most to run and maintain, because of higher depreciation, service, maintenance and repair costs and lower fuel economy. It ends up at 25 pence per mile. It's not exactly a prohibitive difference though, is it?
Sturdy would be an apt description for Golf residual values. It is not really a surprise to find the Volkswagen stands up well after three years or 60,000 miles, retaining 38% of its initial value, at £5,825, according to CAP. The other two cars cannot quite match.
The 307 is a much newer car in its lifecycle, but can only match the Golf. Although dropping to 35% or £5,025, in terms of cash lost though, the 307 is about the same as the Golf due to a lower P11D price. The Focus slightly lags behind the others at 33% or £4,725.
And then we come to emissions. The Golf and the Focus both expel a respectable 146 and 145g/km of CO2 respectively, which puts them in the lowest tax bracket of 18%, once the 3% diesel surcharge has been added after the BIK tax changes in April.
The Peugeot is cleaner, at 138 g/km, but it doesn't make any real difference to the driver's bank balance as all three will be in the 18% band for the next three years. So, for a 22% driver, the Golf will cost £601 a year, the 307 £571, and the Focus £562 over a year. In a further attempt to try and crowbar the three cars apart, it is worth looking at fuel efficiency. Perhaps one streaks ahead here? Alas, no. On the combined cycle the Focus manages 51.4mpg, the Golf 52.3 and the 307 54.3mpg. At this rate, it's going to come down to which car has the biggest ashtray.