Fleet Car: 10 Best Fleet Cars

Determined to be economical on the hoof? In his 2009 list of top company wheels, Steve Fowler has the coolest options for executives who like to enjoy comfort and performance with a clearer conscience.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Jaguar XF 3.0D S V6 Luxury

Among the fuss over debts, job losses and bail-outs, it's easy to forget that Jaguar is making some damn fine cars. The stunning new XJ has just broken cover, while, not long after launch, the XF received some welcome, if not entirely necessary, tweaks. Key to these fixes was the arrival of new diesels, including the hot S model. A fine example of having one's cake and scoffing the lot, it offers hot-hatch-beating performance, while not embarrassing you on the CO2 scoresheet. Not much else changed, but not much else needed to - you get the same sleek exterior and dramatic interior, and a drive that will cosset or coax you, depending on your mood.

List price: £36,900
Target price: £34,776
Cost per mile: 84p
Contract hire (monthly): £810
CO2: 179 g/km
Tax liability: 26%
Average mpg: 42.0
0-60 mph: 5.9 sec
Top speed: 155 mph

BMW 318d ES

Did you think we'd forgotten? This list wouldn't be complete without a 3 Series, and the 318d remains the complete version. Sure, it's not going to beat its bigger-engined brethren away from the lights, but then you're not going to be racking up the Nectar points as quickly. The 318d is positively parsimonious with fuel, getting through a gallon every 60 miles. It's still a great drive, there's plenty of room for three big colleagues to enjoy the ride, and you'll all be able to marvel at the quality of the BMW's interior and remark how it's better than an Audi's these days. Who'd bet against this car appearing here again next year? Hang on, there's a 316d just around the corner ...

List price: £24,235
Target price: £22,145
Cost per mile: 47p
Contract hire (monthly): £494
CO2: 123 g/km
Tax liability: 18%
Average mpg: 60.1
0-60 mph: 9.3 sec
Top speed: 130 mph

Lexus RX450h SE-L Premium

Rumours of the 4x4's death have been somewhat exaggerated. With the RX450h, Lexus might just have produced the saviour of the breed. It all comes down to numbers - 148 g/km of CO2 from a full-size SUV means you'll save literally thousands in tax (both as a company and an individual) by choosing an RX over any rival, while 44.8 mpg is more like your average small family car than a 4x4. It's all down to clever hybrid technology that makes this car green and more powerful - it'll get from 0-62 mph in 7.8 secs. Of course, it wouldn't be a Lexus without top-notch refinement, comfort, quality, stacks of gizmos and top-notch dealer service, too.

List price: £55,505
Target price: £55,505
Cost per mile: 118p
Contract hire (monthly): £1,181
CO2: 148 g/km
Tax liability: 15%
Average mpg: 44.8
0-62 mph: 7.8 sec
Top speed: 124 mph

Toyota iQ 1.0 2

Here's one of my favourite cars of the year - one ideally placed to take advantage of the trend in downsizing. And this is just about as small as you can go: the iQ is comfy for two people, a little awkward for three and downright uncomfortable for four. Four will fit in an emergency in a car that's only a little longer than a Smart. It's a whole lot smarter, though. It's quite wide, so when you're behind the wheel, your view forward is the same as any 'normal' car. And the iQ drives incredibly well too, given its dimensions. It's refined, comfortable and has decent punch from its 1.0-litre engine. It's well built, packed with kit and offers 65 mpg and just 99 g/km. It's the ideal upmarket commuter's car.

List price: £10,615
Target price: £10,142
Cost per mile: 27p
Contract hire (monthly): £241
CO2: 99g/km
Tax liability: 10%
Average mpg: 65.7
0-60 mph: 14.9 sec
Top speed: 93 mph

BMW 520d SE

Watch out for a super-advanced new 5 Series next year, complete with an eight (yes, eight) speed automatic gearbox that will be the first auto to come with stop/start technology. If your company car is due for replacement sooner than that, the current car still makes a mighty fine choice. If you fancy a larger-engined Five, you might be better off with an XF. But I still have to look twice whenever I see the 520d's vital statistics: remember, this is a big car with a 2-litre diesel engine, yet it still zips from 0-62 mph in 8.3 secs, handles as a BMW should and sips fuel like a BMW should, too - the claimed average is 55.4 mpg, with a tax-friendly 136 g/km of CO2.

List price: £27,430
Target price: £25,054
Cost per mile: 55p
Contract hire (monthly): £578
CO2: 136 g/km
Tax liability: 18%
Average mpg: 55.4
0-62 mph: 8.3 sec
Top speed: 144 mph

Audi A4 2.0 TDIe

This list has been dominated by BMW over the past few years, so now it's time for Audi to fight back. The A4 has been around a while, but this recently launched model cracks the all-important 120 g/km CO2 figure - something BMW hasn't been able to do yet with its 3 Series. All the familiar tricks are used to cut emissions - engine stop/start, brake-energy regeneration, gear-change indicator, aerodynamic tweaks - so tax bills will be low and fuel economy is claimed to be 61.4 mpg. The A4 is a stylish, reasonably spacious and well-made alternative to a 3 Series, and it's a touch cheaper - and that's something else that helps to keep those tax bills low.

List price: £23,340
Target price: £23,340
Cost per mile: 49.9p
Contract hire (monthly): n/a
CO2: 120 g/km
Tax liability: 13%
Average mpg: 61.4
0-60 mph: 9.5 sec
Top speed: 143 mph

VW Golf 2.0 TDI 170 GTD

VW's Golf really is all the car most people could ever need - there's good space for four (five at a pinch), while its cabin is also classy, stylish and decently kitted out. And, at long last, VW has caught up with Ford and made the Golf really good to drive, too. It might not be quite as responsive, but its refinement and comfy ride knock all rivals into a cocked hat. Frankly, I'd be quite happy with the perky, turbocharged 1.4-litre model, but like so many I have a hankering for the brilliant GTI. The best of both worlds is this GTD - it looks like a GTI, goes nearly as well as a GTI, but costs less to buy and run.

List price: £21,850
Target price: £20,335
Cost per mile: 46p
Contract hire (monthly): £417
CO2: 139 g/km
Tax liability: 18%
Average mpg: 53.3
0-60 mph: 8.1 sec
Top speed: 138 mph

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 HDi SX EGS

If your company car has to double up as a family bus, this Citroen remains the best way to ferry seven people around. It has clearly been designed by someone with a demanding family, so there are loads of cubby holes, the seats are a doddle to move around and the view out is as good as you'll get in any car with a roof on. There are MPVs that go around corners with a bit more dash and a little less lean, but that's not what these cars are about. And persevere with the EGS semi-auto gearbox, too - you may find it jerky at first, but you soon get used to it and it lowers your emissions and fuel bills. If you want comfy, classy, refined and reliable family transport, you can't do better.

List price: £19,695
Target price: £18,616
Cost per mile: 42.5p
Contract hire (monthly): £410
CO2: 140 g/km
Tax liability: 19%
Average mpg: 53.3
0-60 mph: 13.4 sec
Top speed: 112 mph

Volvo S40 1.6D DRIVe S Start/Stop

Here's a fine example of continual development turning an also-ran into a class leader. When it was launched, the S40 was good at most things but great at nothing. Now it has benefited from some smart eco-friendly tweaks that have improved the way it drives, upped the mpg, lowered the CO2 and made it seem like great value. It's a smart looker, with OK space and decent quality. It's not as sharp to drive as a Focus, but it's not far off; and whereas Ford's prices have headed for the heavens, Volvo's have climbed more slowly. And, let's be honest, wouldn't you rather have one of these on your driveway than yet another Focus? Even if that DRIVe moniker is a bit silly.

List price: £17,995
Target price: £16,092
Cost per mile: 37p
Contract hire (monthly): £362
CO2: 104 g/km
Tax liability: 13%
Average mpg: 72.4
0-60 mph: 11.4 sec
Top speed: 118 mph

Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i T3

Unlike its predecessor, this latest Prius will appeal to normal people, not just the nettle-eating, sandal-wearing types who so loved the old car. True, the new car looks similar to the old one, but the hybrid power system has been revamped so that you should get closer to the official fuel figures, while it's much more enjoyable (but just as easy) to drive. Key to the Prius' appeal are the figures: 72.4 mpg and 89 g/km of CO2 are appealing in anybody's book, the latter bringing with it seriously low company car tax rates. All that, and excellent reliability, make Prius owners a contented bunch: the car continually ranks among the very best in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

List price: £18,590
Target price: £16,811
Cost per mile: 36p
Contract hire (monthly): £360
CO2: 89 g/km
Tax liability: 6%
Average mpg: 72.4
0-60 mph: 10.4sec
Top speed: 112mph

Contract Hire costs, supplied by HSBC Vehicle Finance, are based on a three-year and 60,000-mile contract with maintenance and road fund licence, but excluding VAT.

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