Fleet Car: 10 best Fleet Cars

It's a good year for Mercedes-Benz and VW, with both having two models in the top 10 (against BMW's one), while Japan makes a strong showing with hybrid/electric cars. Chas Hallett reports.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

BEST LUXURY CAR - Mercedes S350 CDI Bluetec

After a busy day at the office and with a four-hour journey ahead of you, there's absolutely nothing that can touch an S-Class. And that applies whether you're driving or being driven.

The largest Merc saloon is going to be superseded by an all-new model next year but no other big saloon has quite the sybaritic appeal of this one. It's quiet, supremely comfortable, plush and can massage away nearly 500 miles between fill-ups. That's impressive enough, but it also works well as a financial proposition too - both for the company and your benefit in kind tax bill.

Our one complaint is that the interior isn't as adventurous as some of its newer rivals such as the Jaguar XJ. But it beats the Jag on interior lounging space and build quality hands down.

Chas Hallett is the editor-in-chief of What Car?

List price: £60,140
Target price: £56,228
Cost per mile: 131.9p
Typical contract hire per month: £1,248
CO2: 177 g/km
Tax liability: 28%
Average mpg: 41.5
0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph

BEST SALOON - BMW 318d SE

There's a reason thousands of 3 Series saloons are crowding out the fast lanes - they are absolutely terrific. Even though this version will be replaced within a year it's still an astonishingly good car. Yes, this is virtually the cheapest, lowest powered model in the range, but it's as sweet to drive as the posher, more powerful ones. Sharp steering, oodles of grip and a surprising amount of pace mean you can have plenty of fun between meetings.

It's also as rock-solid as every other BMW and, as long as you accept that it's really only a four-seater, it also serves well as something to transport the family.

In fact, the one and only reservation about the BMW 318d is that the new one may be even better.

List price: £26,680
Target price: £24,524
Cost per mile: 53.9p
Typical contract hire per month: £514
CO2: 119 g/km
Tax liability: 13%
Average mpg: 62.8
0-60 mph: 9.1 seconds
Top speed: 130 mph

BEST TAX-FREE CAR - Nissan Leaf

Can you live with an electric car? If you can put up with a range of around 90 miles between charge ups and a high price tag for what is in reality a battery-powered Ford Focus rival, then there are plenty of benefits with the Nissan Leaf.

Not least the ultra-low running costs and knowing you'll never need to queue up at the filling station. Plus the satisfaction of zero company car tax and the fact it's the most eco-friendly car around.

More than that it's a good car plain and simple. It's big enough to qualify as bona fide family transport and it's satisfying to drive. The virtual silence and the way it handles take some getting used to, but it's refined and surprisingly fast.

List price: £25,990 (inc £5,000 government grant)
Target price: £25,990
Cost per mile: N/A
Typical contract hire per month: N/A
CO2: N/A
Tax liability: 0%
Average mpg: N/A
0-60 mph: 11.9 seconds
Top speed: 90 mph

BEST EXECUTIVE CAR - Mercedes CLS

If we were being completely sensible we would be recommending the E-Class here. But the CLS is the E-Class's sleeker, sharper, infinitely more glamorous and desirable sister.

But this 250CDI isn't a totally barmy choice. It's got a more economical four-cylinder diesel, rather than the thirstier V6. OK, it's a little noisier when starting, but when cruising it sounds just as creamy and certainly feels potent enough.

Like all CLS models, it's a sharp drive too. But the real treat is the way this thing looks, inside and out. Far from being a sober Merc, it looks and feels very ritzy inside, helped by the snug cockpit and four-seat layout with a high tunnel running through the middle of the car. Like all the latest Mercs it feels beautifully built too.

List price: £49,350
Target price: £47,444
Cost per mile: 96.2p
Typical contract hire per month pounds: 919
CO2: 138 g/km
Tax liability: 20%
Average mpg: 54.3
0-60mph: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 150 mph

BEST COUPE - VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI GT

The Scirocco is a VW Golf GTi in a slightly sharper set of clothes. And to be honest that alone would be enough to make it our favourite coupe. Yet there are plenty of other reasons to give it the nod too.

Even though it shares most of its components with Europe's favourite hot hatch, the Scirocco has a character all of its own. The stylish bodywork helps a fair bit but so does the sharper handling and snugger, sportier cabin.

The pace of the 2.0-litre turbo version is worth paying the extra for and there's even more excitement to be extracted if you can run to the twin-clutch DSG paddle-change gearbox, too.

But, just like the Golf, it's a super-sensible purchase and, at a push, it's also capable of ferrying the family around.

List price: £24,465
Target price: £22,962
Cost per mile: 59.4p
Typical contract hire per month pounds: 500
CO2: 172 g/km
Tax liability: 24%
Average mpg: 38.2
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
Top speed: 149 mph

BEST HYBRID - Honda CRZ

Hybrids have to be worthy but dull, right? Well, Honda doesn't agree, which is where the CRZ comes in, a cool coupe that's fun to drive and own. The difference is that its 1.5-litre petrol engine is assisted by an electric motor which gives you extra oomph when accelerating, but also helps keep fuel economy and emissions lower and, for that matter, company car tax too. It's not breathtakingly fast but it handles well enough to be fun. And, unusually for a hybrid, it has a manual gearbox.

The one issue is a lack of space and that alone may wipe it off your company car scheme. But if not, you'll be driving one of the coolest (and greenest) cars on the road.

List price: £17,360
Target price: £16,789
Cost per mile: 41.4p
Typical contract hire per month: £608
CO2: 117 g/km
Tax liability: 10%
Average mpg: 56.5
0-60 mph: 9.9 seconds
Top speed: 124 mph

BEST HATCH - Golf 1.6TDi Bluemotion

Despite being Europe's best-selling hatchback and a correspondingly common sight on the roads, there's still something about the VW Golf that makes it a cut above the more blue-collar Vauxhalls and Fords lining the same streets.

Part of it is down to some clever marketing by VW, but most of it is down to the fact that it's a darn fine car. Especially this one, which is powered by the super-frugal Bluemotion diesel which will return over 60 mpg all day long and has low enough CO2 emissions so as not to lumber you with a large tax bill. It's good to drive too and still has the comfort and quality which allow it to lord it over its peers. One concern is that the latest Ford Focus is a slightly sharper drive. But it's just too good in other areas for that to matter.

List price: £19,250
Target price: £17,879
Cost per mile: 39.4p
Typical contract hire per month pounds: 361
CO2: 99 g/km
Tax liability: 13%
Average mpg: 74.3
0-60 mph: 11.3 seconds
Top speed: 118 mph

BEST SUV - Range Rover Evoque Prestige 2.2 SD4 5 door

The Evoque is the hottest car on the market, which means even if you move quickly you'll probably have to wait to get one. But it's worth it.

The Evoque may be the all-new 'cheap' Range Rover but it doesn't feel like it. Or look like it - RR has done a brilliant job of translating the brand's patrician looks into a smaller, more relevant package.

It's practical if you go for the diesel five-door model which is both cheaper and a bit easier to live with than the mildly more rakish three-door 'coupe'.

A fine drive, it feels far more agile and sporty than both the old-school RR and the Freelander with which it shares some mechanicals.

List price: £38,990
Target price: £38,990
Cost per mile: 75.6p
Typical contract hire per month pounds: 534
CO2: 149 g/km
Tax liability: 19%
Average mpg: 50.2
0-60 mph: 9.5 seconds
Top speed: 124 mph

BEST SPORTS CAR - Porsche Cayman S

Sniffy Porsche types may see the Cayman S as a Boxster without the benefit of an open-top, or as a consolation prize if you can't afford a 911. But the reality is that it's Porsche's best-kept secret and nigh on the best sports car on the planet.

It's purity, rather than lunatic pace, that sets the Cayman apart. The way it attacks corners, lets you feel every sensation and yet remains resolutely safe at the same time is an intoxicating experience.

And, like every Porsche, all the sensible stuff is covered too. It won't cost you or the company a fortune to run and it's built to weapons-grade standard.

The downsides are that it's only a two-seater and useless for transporting clients around and that you will probably spend extra dosh speccing up the slightly spartan standard offering.

All will be forgiven when driving your favourite B-road though.

List price: £48,373
Target price: £48,373
Cost per mile: 118.7p
Typical contract hire per month pounds: 2,620
CO2: 223 g/km
Tax liability: 34%
Average mpg: 28.8
0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 172 mph

BEST FOR BLOWING THE BONUS - Ferrari 458 Italia

Getting the big fat cheque and blowing it on a Ferrari is a crass automotive cliche. But it's also one of the greatest of indulgences if you ever find yourself in the fortunate position of being able to do it.

The mid-engined 458 Italia is one of the best ever Ferraris and, considering the firm's record of masterpieces, that's praise indeed.

It's stuffed with technology and is brilliantly engineered. But the real point is it's a car packed with emotion, expressed not just in how it looks and feels, but in how it goes about its business on the road. It's searingly fast, sounds amazing and, such is its array of electronics, it serves up a top-drawer experience however good a driver you are.

List price: £173,132
Target price: £173,132
Cost per mile: N/A
Typical contract hire per month: N/A
CO2: 307 g/km
Tax liability: 35%
Average mpg: 20.6
0-60 mph: 3.4 seconds
Top speed: 202 mph

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