Credit: Domantasm

The 10 best fleet cars for 2015

From low-tax budget buys and family seven-seaters to luxury performance hybrid and electric models, Vicky Parrott picks this year's top fleet vehicles.

by Vicky Parrott
Last Updated: 28 Jul 2016

BEST ALL-ROUNDER

Skoda Octavia

If you run a substantial fleet, then benefit in kind (BIK) tax, economy and the cost to the company are all paramount. This Skoda is good to drive, will do 60 mpg and more in everyday driving, while contract hire figures are reasonable and monthly tax costs to employees are very low. More than that, it's got a massive cabin, and is better equipped than similarly priced rivals - step forward the Ford Focus Zetec - given that it includes sat nav, as well as Bluetooth and air-con, which is essential to many fleet drivers these days. Throw in decent discounts, a good reliability record and strong resale values, and it's also a winner if you buy rather than lease your fleet.

Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI SE Business Greenline III
List price: £20,225
Target price: £18,589
Typical contract hire per month: £276
CO2 emissions: 90g/km
Tax liability: 16%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £108
Combined mpg 80.7
0-62 mph: 10.6 seconds
Top speed: 128 mph


BEST FOR FRUGAL FUN

Mazda MX-5

There are a few compromises here; a two-seat roadster isn't going to suit every lifestyle. Yet, if it could suit yours and fun is a priority, the Mazda should be top of your shortlist. The new MX-5 is low- powered but light, so its high-revving 1.5 motor offers plenty of verve to keep things exciting, while also being cheap to run and easy to manage even if you want to wring out its full potential. Not only that, but it has bona fide sports car handling, so will satisfy through every corner. It's easy and comfortable enough to do the daily commute, too. The MX-5 is the ultimate fun yet affordable everyday roadster, and a brilliant left-field company car option.

Mazda MX-5 1.5i SE
List price: £18,495 
Target price: £18,495
Typical contract hire per month: £247
CO2 emissions: 139g/km
Tax liability: 22%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £135
Combined mpg: 47.1
0-62 mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 127 mph


BEST ELECTRIC CAR

Tesla Model S

The pure electric Tesla's combination of potent performance, luxury image, useful practicality and big tax breaks, is becoming increasingly popular among business users, and rightly so. Updates this year mean you can now only get the Model S 70D with all-wheel drive rather than the rear-wheel drive setup it had previously, but it still handles with light-footed ease. Otherwise, even this entry-level version of the Model S is fast enough to shock, yet lavish enough to deliver the luxury experience you'd want at this price. More importantly, with the electric infrastructure growing all the time and a range of up to 275 miles, the Tesla is far from the limiting prospect you might imagine.

Tesla model S 70D
List price: £55,000
Target price: £55,000
Typical contract hire per month: £667
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Tax liability: 5%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £92
Combined mpg: n/a
0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph


BEST LOW-TAX ALTERNATIVE

Renault Twingo

The Renault Twingo is a slightly unconventional small car. The 1.0 three-cylinder petrol motor sits under the boot floor at the back of the car, and sends power to the rear wheels, which allows a tiny turning circle and gives a surprising amount of room for four passengers. This, together with the narrow body, makes for a brilliant inner-city runabout, while the low price and CO2 make the BIK cost cheaper per month than many a TV contract. The quirky styling and equipment extras are reasonably priced so shouldn't push your tax costs up too much, while fuel costs will be low. Just think carefully about this if you do many motorway miles, as it's buzzy, and feels slow when you get up to cruising speeds.

Renault Twingo 1.0 SCe Expression
List price: £9,495
Target price: £9,192
Typical contract hire per month: £163
CO2 emissions: 105g/km
Tax liability: 16%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £50
Combined mpg: 60.1
0-62mph 14.5: seconds
Top speed: 94 mph


BEST SUV

Land Rover Discovery Sport

The new Discovery Sport is perfect for those after an upmarket seven-seat SUV with reasonable running costs. With the occasional sixth and seventh seats folded, it still offers a big boot, so ticks the practical boxes. It also delivers the feel-good factor that's so important to premium cars. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives; a Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi is a good shout if you want lower costs and aren't worried about seven-seats - but the Land Rover is great value for what it's offering, particularly in SE Tech trim. Between this, the slick drive, and compact dimensions that'll appeal to those familiar with multi-storey car park woes, it's a compelling all-rounder that'll suit the needs of most SUV buyers.

Land Rover Discovery 2.0 TD4 4WD SE Tech
List price: £33,895
Target price: £33,895
Typical contract hire per month: £473
CO2 emissions: 139g/km
Tax liability: 25%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £282
Combined mpg: 53.3
0-60 mph: 9.4 seconds
Top speed: 117 mph


BEST MILE MUNCHER

BMW 520d

We're all familiar with it - this is the sort of default business car option that probably graces your company car park already, but there's a good reason for its success. The diesel engine is smooth, powerful and cheap to run, while the interior is comfortable, immaculately appointed and solidly built, and comes with all the essential equipment including nav and leather. Go for the auto, which reduces emissions and improves the way the 520d drives. It also has really affordable costs for employee and employer, while still exuding that aura of desirability. It may be an everyday sight, but the 520d still wields the kind of image, driver reward and low everyday costs to satisfy the most exacting company car needs.

BMW 520d SE Auto
List price: £33,915
Target price: £29,681
Typical contract hire per month: £310
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Tax liability: 19%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £214
Combined mpg: 68.9
0-62 mph: 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 145 mph


BEST BONUS BUSTER

BMW i8

You only need to look at the i8 to know why it's our choice of bonus buster. This bold, hybrid supercar has a turbocharged three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol motor at the back to drive the rear wheels, and an electric motor up front to drive the front wheels, with a six-speed automatic gearbox in the middle. Dramatic performance comes courtesy of lightweight construction as much as its power output, and on top of that you get incisive cornering, futuristic, electronically enhanced soundtrack and poster-worthy styling. So, if you're after thrilling, attention-seeking transport, don't be put off by the i8's sensible power and emissions. It's got more theatre in one gullwing door than a Porsche 911 has in its entirety.

BMW i8
List price: £104,540
Target price: £104,450
Typical contract hire per month: £1,100
CO2 emissions: 49g/km
Tax liability: 5%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £174
Combined mpg: 134.5
0-62 mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 155 mph


BEST FAMILY FERRY

Volvo XC90

The electric motor in this big, seven-seat Volvo can power it for around 15 miles and brings an impressively low 5% BIK rating, while the 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine gives it great performance. Other than a slightly awkward brake pedal feel, which you get used to in time, it's refined and relaxing to drive, and has a beautifully finished cabin that's really spacious and versatile. A diesel version may be better for high mileage motorists, as this automatic-only hybrid won't be very economical when the petrol engine is running, but if you commute short distances, and ideally have a charge point at work, the fuel, congestion charge and tax costs could really pay off.

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
List price: £59,955
Target price: £59,955
Typical contract hire per month: £890
CO2 emissions: 49g/km
Tax liability: 5%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £100
Combined mpg: 112.9
0-62 mph: 5.9 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph


BEST FOR WORK AND PLAY

Jaguar XE

The new Jaguar XE is the best handling car in the popular executive saloon class, beating even the much vaunted BMW 3 Series when it comes to driver reward, and so it thoroughly deserves a nod as our favourite work and play option. The higher powered of the XE's two available diesels has plenty of gusto despite low emissions and company car costs, yet will also scythe through corners with the sort of energy that'll regularly have you taking the long way home. Resist the more striking looks of the R Sport model, as it gets a firmer ride but little benefit to the handling, and add the automatic gearbox that perfectly suits the XE's precise yet relaxed dynamics.

Jaguar XE 2.0d 180 SE auto
List price: £32,025
Target price: £32,025
Typical contract hire per month: £383pm
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Tax liability: 19%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £203
Combined mpg: 67.3
0-62 mph: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 140 mph


BEST HATCH

Audi A3 Sportback

There are very few things that the A3 Sportback doesn't do. It's got the best interior finish of the family hatches, sweet handling, comfortable ride (provided you avoid the optional firmer suspension), roomy cabin, great tax costs. The 1.4 petrol gets a punchy 148 bhp, but switches off two cylinders when they're not needed (an imperceptible operation when you're driving) to bring low emissions and frugal economy. It's a smooth engine, and its tax costs will be comparable to those of the diesel 1.6 Ultra model that many company car drivers may consider the default options. Not only that, but the 1.4 Cylinder on Demand will even return decent economy of 45 mpg or more in normal real-world use.

Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI CoD SE
List price: £21,385
Target price: £19,865
Typical contract hire per month: £270
CO2 emissions: 112g/km
Tax liability: 17%
BIK cost (40% taxpayers) per month: £121
Combined mpg: 58.9
0-62 mph: 8.2 seconds
Top speed: 136 mph

Image credit: Domantasm

Tags:
Automotive

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