The top 10 Fleet Cars

From the thrifty and nifty to the fast, flashy and furious, this year's pick of the company wheels crop is chosen by What Car? editor in chief Charles Hallett.

by Charles Hallett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

BEST AUSTERITY CHIC - DACIA SANDERO 1.2 ACCESS

 

A what? Well, this is now the UK's cheapest car and this particular one costs less than some makers charge for fancy options.

Better than that, while it has a Dacia badge on the bonnet, the Romanian company is actually owned by Renault, which means that pretty much all the mechanicals are shared with Clios, past and present.

That also means that it's a much better proposition than the price suggests. OK, it's not state of the art but it's a decent drive, has ample space for a family of four and got four stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, so your nearest and dearest will be safe as well.

This version isn't the sweet spot in the range - you may want to spend a little more so as to avoid bum basic spec. But bear in mind that the priciest model with sat-nav and the latest diesel still costs less than 10 grand.

List price £5,995
Target price £5,995
Cost per mile 28.9p
Typical contract hire per month £125
CO2 135 g/km
Tax liability 22%
Average mpg 47.9
0-60 mph 14.5 seconds
Top speed 101 mph


BEST HATCHBACK - AUDI A3 SPORTBACK 1.4 TFSI 122 SE

 

You may have expected to see the new Golf being anointed as our favourite hatchback. There's no doubt that the VW is an excellent car, but the new A3 Sportback five door - its slightly more glamorous sister - is better still.

Why? Because it's even more refined to drive and has one of the best cabins of any car currently on sale. The real clincher comes with the financials though, especially if the company is paying the bills. The Audi's strong residuals and keen list price mean that it's only a whisker away from the Golf to buy and own.

For most people, the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol is the better bet, but if you are doing lots of miles, then the sprightly, frugal diesel is equally appealing. However, the upshot is whatever A3 you end up in, you've made an informed choice.

List price £19,825
Target price £18,792
Cost per mile 40.4p
Typical contract hire per month £241
CO2 123 g/km
Tax liability 16%
Average mpg 53.3
0-60 mph 9.5 seconds
Top speed 126 mph


BONUS BUSTER - MCLAREN MP4-12C SPIDER

 

When the big cheque finally arrives, the sensible thing to do is pay down the mortgage. But after five minutes in the McLaren MP4 Spider, you won't be thinking about real estate.

McLaren's Ferrari-rivalling MP412C was oddly clinical when it came out as a coupe. But adding a foldaway metal roof and a bit more power has given it a much-needed injection of fizz and drama.

Driving one hard with the roof down is one of the most sensory experiences motoring can offer. You'll be spending the entire time looking for roads where it can be properly unleashed. Or better still, tunnels and walls where that exhaust note can bounce straight back to you.

Perhaps the Macca's best trick is that it isn't intimidating. Anyone can jump in and feel confident within minutes. And we confidently predict that you'd love it.

List price £195,500
Target price £195,500
Cost per mile n/a
Typical contract hire per month n/a
CO2 279 g/km
Tax liability 35%
Average mpg 24.2
0-60 mph 3.1 seconds
Top speed 204 mph


BEST SPORTS CAR - PORSCHE BOXSTER 2.7

 

This is the best sports car money can buy. Not because it's the quickest, noisiest or even the prettiest. But because it's fabulous to drive, whether you're a novice driver or an expert, or whether you're cruising to the office or attacking your favourite cross-country route.

If you go for the base model, rather than the more powerful S, it can even be described as a bargain too. Being a Porsche, it also feels fabulously built and will hold its value well. It's even got a sensible amount of luggage space and is light on fuel, considering it's powered by a rorty six-cylinder petrol engine.

But you may feel the need to indulge in a few (expensive) options (the clutchless PDK gearbox is certainly worth considering), which are going to push up the monthly bills.

Either way, it's a sublime car to drive and own.

List price £37,589
Target price £37,589
Cost per mile n/a
Typical contract hire per month £635
CO2 192 g/km
Tax liability 30%
Average mpg 34.5
0-60 mph 5.8 seconds
Top speed 164 mph


BEST MEGA-MILER - BMW 320ED

 

The BMW 320ED is what happens when some of the motor industry's best engineers put their minds and money to reducing CO2. The result is a car with the many virtues of the latest 3 Series, with deliciously tempting numbers for anyone trying to keep company car tax to a minimum. The ED stands for efficient dynamics, the monicker for the company's ultra-low CO2 models.

Fuel economy is equally impressive. This is a car that can credibly achieve 70 mpg at motorway speeds, and feels sharp, swift and super-refined too.

Like every other 3 Series saloon, it should fit into your life easily. It's comfortable, spacious and admirably well built. Our one complaint is that the 2.0-litre diesel is a little too raucous around town, especially from cold starts. But the impressively low numbers are adequate compensation.

List price £28,410
Target price £26,449
Cost per mile 53p
Typical contract hire per month £370
CO2 109 g/km
Tax liability 16%
Average mpg 68.9
0-60 mph 8.0 seconds
Top speed 143 mph


BEST SEVEN-SEATER - SEAT ALHAMBRA 2.0 TDI ECOMOTIVE S

 

There aren't that many of us who want a seven-seat MPV, but plenty of us need one. If you fit into either category, the Seat Alhambra is by far the best bet.

It wins by combining some rare attributes in the genre. It can seat seven adults, has a fighting chance of fitting in their luggage too and drives well enough to make you think you're in a well-sorted saloon.

It also fulfils the people-carrier brief in other ways, as the second and third row of seats can be tipped, tumbled or removed altogether to make it into a van, if needed. It also has sliding doors at the rear, which is a boon if you've ever tried to load kids and luggage in a tight parking space.

Get the diesel and it makes huge sense as company wheels too. So maybe it's desirable after all ...

List price £25,035
Target price £23,332
Cost per mile 55.1p
Typical contract hire per month £359
CO2 146 g/km
Tax liability 24%
Average mpg 50.4
0-60 mph 10.9 seconds
Top speed 120 mph


BEST SUV - RANGE ROVER SPORT SDV6 HSE

 

The all-new Range Rover Sport rights a lot of the last one's wrongs. This one is far better looking, a lot lighter and so a lot less fond of guzzling fuel. It's more practical too, as it has got the option of a third row of seats, bringing the total to seven.

It's related to the posher, more imperious new Range Rover, so a lot of the tech is the same, including our favoured V6 diesel engine and auto box. It feels similar to drive or sit in, as it has got the same level of refinement and beautifully crafted cabin.

Sadly, it has also got the same lumpy prices too. The reality is that a BMW X3 or the like will provide a similar experience. What you won't get is the same comfort, image or all-round ability. Which is why, if you can stretch to it, the Sport is worth the extra.

List price £59,995
Target price £59,995
Cost per mile n/a
Typical contract hire per month £804
CO2 199 g/km
Tax liability 34%
Average mpg 37.7
0-60 mph 6.8 seconds
Top speed 138 mph


BEST LOW-TAX CAR - CHEVROLET VOLT

 

Electric cars make a huge amount of sense on paper, especially if you commute into London, as you don't pay the Congestion Charge or for parking in plenty of areas. And the Exchequer only requires 5% tax.

All good, but having a pure EV also means a huge amount of compromise. Which is where the Chevrolet Volt (and near identical Vauxhall Ampera) comes in. It is an electric car, with all the cost benefits, and you plug it in. But it also has a petrol engine to charge the battery when it runs out of juice. So it can be your only car.

You'll enjoy driving it too: there's a certain smugness to be had when you're swishing along silently, and paying only a fraction of the normal fuel costs.

This tech is pricey though and you really need to do your sums before committing. But you may never need to fill up or pay car tax again.

List price £35,255
Target price £35,255
Cost per mile 61p
Typical contract hire per month £490
CO2 27 g/km
Tax liability 5%
Average mpg 235.4
0-60 mph 9.0 seconds
Top speed 99 mph


BEST FOR BACK SEAT DRIVERS - BENTLEY FLYING SPUR

 

This one probably isn't an option even if you make the boardroom. More one for when the chairman's job finally comes your way and the company chauffeur becomes a benefit in kind.

The back of the newest Bentley saloon is a peerless place from which to survey the outside world. It's supremely quiet and comfortable. You're surrounded by both old-school opulence and new tech. There's a rear entertainment pack that lets you watch TV or programme the sat-nav.

Life is possibly even better if you're driving. The Bentley's a huge car that doesn't feel like one. It's almost indecently fast, capable of keeping up with plenty of sports cars, courtesy of its 12-cylinder petrol engine. Sadly, the running costs are similarly indecent.

But if you or the company has the wherewithal, it's worth it.

List price £149,900
Target price £149,900
Cost per mile 321p
Typical contract hire per month n/a
CO2 343 g/km
Tax liability 35%
Average mpg 19.2
0-60 mph 4.3 seconds
Top speed 200 mph


BEST FOR CHEAP THRILLS - FORD FIESTA ST

 

The Ford Fiesta's easily the most fun small car to drive. So you can imagine that adding a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine to the formula makes for an enticing and intoxicating cocktail. It's fast, fabulous to drive and makes every journey feel like an adventure. All it takes is Zen-like self-discipline not to be driving flat out everywhere.

So this would be Britain's best hot hatch whatever the price, but the fact that it's also one of the cheapest - and notably better value than immediate rivals - makes it one of the great new car bargains.

Obviously a petrol-powered performance hatch isn't the most sensible of cars to have on the company scheme, although the tax burden is not quite as onerous as you might expect. Nor is the fuel consumption, as long as you drive it sensibly. And that may end up being the hardest thing about owning the ST.

List price £16,995
Target price £15,967
Cost per mile 47.0p
Typical contract hire per month £283
CO2 138 g/km
Tax liability 19%
Average mpg 47.0
0-60 mph 6.9 seconds
Top speed 136 mph

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