The 6 most popular company cars in Britain

Ford and Vauxhall dominate, but a crossover sneaks into the official list of the UK's top company cars.

by Richard Bremner
Last Updated: 30 Mar 2016

1. Ford Focus: 50,659 registrations in 2014

Ford redefined the family hatchback with the original, boldly styled Focus of 1998 and has worked hard to maintain those early high standards. Now in its third iteration, the current Focus was upgraded last year and of particular interest to company car drivers is the new 1.5 TDCi diesel. It produces a tax-busting 98g/km CO2. Its official combined figure is an optimistic 74.2mpg - expect real-world high-50s consumption.

Clearer infotainment, improved storage and a better-finished cabin are signalled with Ford's latest grille, which looks almost litigiously similar to an Aston Martin's. In fact, the Focus has always combined slightly sportier manners with its deep-rooted practicality.

Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi Zetec five-door (pictured above)

List price: £19,415
Power: 118 bhp
CO2 emissions: 98 g/km
BIK: 15%
Fuel cons, combined: 74.3 mpg
0-62 mph: 10.5 seconds
Max speed: 120 mph
Engine: 1.5 4-cyl turbo diesel

2. Volkswagen Golf:  46,537 registrations in 2014

Like the Focus, the Golf is a great all-rounder. But it also has a copper-bottomed reputation for classless high quality - although plenty of research suggests that the Ford is actually the more reliable. If the Focus has the slight edge when it comes to driving enjoyment, the Golf counters with a more comfortable ride and a smarter cabin.

In other respects, the two are very close, and both are better than the opposition. The most popular Golf is the diesel 1.6 TDI, but those chasing economy should consider the admittedly pricier Bluemotion with its combined 88.3mpg and super-low 85g/km CO2 emissions. There's also a zero-emission electric e-Golf.

Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI match five-door

List price: £20,765
Power: 109 bhp
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
BIK: 15%
Fuel cons, combined: 74.3 mpg
0-62 mph: 10.7 seconds
Max speed: 119 mph
Engine: 1.6 4-cyl turbo diesel

3. Ford Fiesta: 43,903 registrations in 2014

The Fiesta first appeared in 1976 and has been Britain's best-selling car for several years. Over half are sold to private buyers, but it's a very popular fleet car too. Ford's long-lived supermini is also an excellent car these days - this and the strength of the brand are the keys to its success.

Despite the current model being seven years old it remains one of the best in its class, scoring on style, space, low running costs, reliability, refinement and deft handling. A 2013 facelift has kept it contemporary, especially with the introduction of Ford's new downsized 1.0 turbo, three-cylinder Ecoboost engine, which combines decent zest with excellent fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.

Ford Fiesta Zetec 1.0 100 Ecoboost 5-door

List price: £14,615
Power: 99 bhp
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
BIK: 12%
Fuel cons, combined: 65.7 mpg
0-62 mph: 11.2 seconds
Max speed: 112 mph
Engine: 1.0 3-cyl turbo petrol

4. Vauxhall Astra: 38,045 registrations in 2014

Vauxhall's alternative to the Ford Focus and VW Golf has always been a good car, but no version has quite matched the polish of those two crucial rivals. Despite this, it's a very popular fleet choice and in truth you'd have to drive all three back to back to uncover the differences. Now available with a more civilised 1.6 diesel, the Astra has developed to a very agreeable level. And the Sports Tourer estate mixes neat styling with a load bay bigger than the Focus's.

One of the challenges of Astra acquisition is working your way through the thickets of derivatives, but it's the 99g/km 1.6 diesel that many will gravitate to. Business users could do worse than choose the Tech Line GT version with Bluetooth and sat-nav thrown in.

Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi Ecoflex Tech Line GT

List price: £17,375
Power: 109 bhp
CO2 emissions: 97 g/km
BIK: 15%
Fuel cons, combined: 70.6 mpg
0-62 mph: 11.0 seconds
Max speed: 115 mph
Engine: 1.6 4-cyl turbo diesel

5. Vauxhall Corsa: 31,542 registrations in 2014

Vauxhall has just renewed the Corsa, and though some unseen sections of its underpinnings reappear, for the most part this car is all-new. The best element of that newness is a three-cylinder, 1.0 turbo petrol engine, just like the Ford, except that this version is even more civilised. Unless you're doing vast distances, it makes a better buy than the diesel, especially as its sprightly nature gets the best from the Corsa.

It is quite an agile car, if less sharply responsive than the Fiesta, and not quite as smooth-riding as Hyundai's new i20.

Like all Corsas, it's roomy for its type, easy to drive, easy to live with, neatly stylish and economical to run. Expect to see its success repeated.

Vauxhall Corsa 1.0i 90 SRi 3-door

List price: £13,425
Power: 89 bhp
CO2 emissions: 104 g/km
BIK: 13%
Fuel cons, combined: 62.4 mpg
0-62 mph: 11.9 seconds
Max speed: 112 mph
Engine: 1.0 3-cyl turbo petrol

6. Nissan Qashqai: 28,238 registrations in 2014

The original Qashqai pretty much created the market for the blend of off-roader, estate, MPV and hatchback that is a crossover - Nissan's vast research into customers' automotive wants ensuring that success was no accident. The second-generation Qashqai arrived last year and, like its predecessor, is also a product of customer wish-lists. The result is the same idea, only better. That particularly applies to the 1.5 dCi diesel, whose emissions and economy improve markedly to 99g/km and 62.4mpg and its lower insurance groupings and running costs strengthen its fleet appeal.

The Qashqai is now better finished, more refined and more convenient - plenty of electronic driving aids being a Nissan speciality. That makes it an excellent family - and fleet - choice.

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta Premium

List price: £23,395
Power: 109 bhp
CO2 emissions: 99 g/km
BIK: 15%
Fuel cons, combined: 62.4 mpg
0-62 mph: 11.9 seconds
Max speed: 113 mph
Engine: 1.5 4-cyl turbodiesel


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