Long reads

The top 10 fleet cars of 2019

22 Aug 2019 By Elizabeth Howlett

It’s tough to know which vehicles will be both driveable and cost-efficient. But help is at hand

The story of the past few years for UK fleet managers has been a desperate scramble to work out which vehicles will be both reliable and – crucially – future-proof amid economic uncertainty and changes to tax arrangements affecting businesses 
and employees.

Anti-diesel rhetoric and uncertainty over true CO₂ emissions have made an informed choice even harder to come by. However, the government has offered some clarity by announcing new benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax rates until April 2023, with fully electric drivers avoiding BIK in 2020-21. 

Meanwhile, the essential remoulding of the plug-in car grant into an electric-only subsidy and changes to optional remuneration arrangement rules so they now tax related benefits has prompted some organisations to hold back on their spend, according to fleet consultant Oliver Hammond. 

The changes give green fleet decision-makers a clearer view. Small, efficient petrol engines with low emissions will remain the most popular choice but, for high-mileage diesel drivers, eco-friendly options are emerging. 

Hammond says: “With manufacturers continuously introducing 
ever more efficient models, the picture is now brighter, and there are some excellent fleet choices to focus on.” But where should you look first? People Management turned to the experts to build a list of 10 recommended drives.

BMW 5 Series 520d

  • Price from £38,710
  • 0-62mph 7.3secs
  • Fuel Diesel
  • CO₂ emissions 117g/km
  • BIK liability 31%
  • Official MPG 62.7

If you rack up the miles, value comfort but still want low(ish) emissions, the BMW 5 Series could be a long-distance dream come true. Returning more than 50mpg and emitting 117g/km of CO2, this diesel benefits from emissions-busting AdBlue as standard.

Drivers will be liable for a 31 per cent BIK rate, but it’s a small price to pay for the overall performance and comfort the 520d delivers. If you’re looking for a 5 Series without the BIK price tag, the 530e iPerformance plug-in hybrid is a strong contender with a liability of 16 per cent. 

Peugeot 3008 blueHDi

  • Price from £26,700
  • 0-62mph 11.5secs
  • Fuel Diesel
  • CO₂ emissions 111g/km
  • BIK liability 30%
  • Official MPG 48.2

Peugeot ditched its old MPV in favour of this stylish premium SUV, which now brushes shoulders with other segment favourites such as the Seat Ateca.

With an array of small, efficient engine sizes and fuel options, there is something for everyone in the 3008 line-up. Breaking away from tradition, the small petrol engines are surprisingly efficient and would serve short journeys well. The greenest model is the 1.5 BlueHDi diesel, which will prove the most frugal for long-haul drivers, with 30 per cent BIK liability and emissions of 111g/km.

Toyota Corolla hybrid

  • Price from £25,830
  • 0-62mph 7.9secs
  • Fuel Petrol hybrid
  • CO₂ emissions 76-89g/km
  • BIK liability 22%
  • Official MPG 50-60

Toyota harked back to the good old days with the new Corolla, which benefits from a self-charging hybrid, ensuring it’s far from a has-been. The 1.8-litre hybrid is the most efficient model available, with the entry-level Icon and Icon Tech trim. Standard features include 16-inch alloys and a reversing camera. 

Emitting 76g/km of CO2 and returning just under 66mpg under new WLTP testing, it works best for regular low-speed journeys over short distances. The battery power could give you a greener solution in the concrete jungle, but certainly isn’t designed for long drives. 

BMW 3 Series 330e PHEV

  • Price £38,830
  • 0-62mph 6.1secs
  • Fuel Petrol hybrid
  • CO₂ emissions 39g/km
  • BIK liability 16%
  • Official MPG 138

With 37 miles of electric power resting underneath the unmistakable boldness of a BMW bonnet, the 330e is a popular company car option. 

As if the 138mpg isn’t bonus enough, this powerful PHEV has CO2 emissions of 39g/km, which is a slightly better return than its 5 Series hybrid cousin, which emits 49g/km. Its performance is on a par with the petrol-fuelled 330i, as it can reach 62mph in around six seconds. 

Well suited to city driving, the 330e has a pure electric mode for slower journeys and a parking assistant feature as standard.

Volvo XC60 T8 Twin 

  • Price £56,300
  • 0-62mph 5.1secs
  • Fuel Petrol hybrid
  • CO₂ emissions 51g/km
  • BIK liability 19%
  • Official MPG 57.7

With a plug-in hybrid engine delivering 23 miles of electric power twinned with efficient petrol, the XC60 is a hard car to argue with. 

The Swedish manufacturer has managed to pack it full of unrivalled high-end standard safety equipment, including an autonomous emergency braking system, making it one of the safest cars around. 

If you’re a city driver then safety isn’t the only advantage. The low CO2 emissions of 51g/km means it’s exempt from London’s congestion charge, leaving you to cruise around guilt-free.

VW Golf 2.0 GTD Blueline

  • Price £30,120
  • 0-62mph 7.5secs
  • Fuel Diesel
  • CO₂ emissions 119g/km
  • BIK liability 30%
  • Official MPG 60

If you’re seeking some thrills but still want diesel-driven efficiency, the Golf GTD is a solid choice. Sitting at 30 per cent, the BIK payments will be a doddle, thanks to its low CO2 emissions. 

Volkswagen introduced the GTD BlueLine as part of a facelift in 2017. Sitting on 17-inch alloys, the Golf benefits from improved emissions and fuel consumption, making it the perfect company car. 

A five-door manual from the GTD BlueLine range will return 62.8mpg and emit 119g/km, while a three-door will fair slightly better at 64.2mpg, emitting 116 g/km.

Kia e-Niro

  • Price £32,995
  • 0-62mph 7.8secs
  • Fuel Electric
  • CO₂ emissions 0g/km
  • BIKliability 16%
  • Official electric range 235 miles

This certainly is a car in demand. The manufacturer claims that since winning the What Car? Car of the Year award, the initial production is now sold out. Luckily there is a waiting list, and any keen Kia EV owners should put their name down pronto. 

Drivers could travel more than 200 miles (some reports suggest it can achieve 250-plus) on pure electricity, easing the pressure on fuel costs and BIK and congestion charges. Its price may seem hefty but an impressive list of standard kit, including a reversing camera and an eight-inch touch screen, puts it nicely into perspective.  

Range Rover Evoque 150PS FWD

  • Price £31,295
  • 0-62mph 9.9secs
  • Fuel Diesel
  • CO₂ emissions 143g/km 
  • BIK liability 32%
  • Official MPG 44.9

Despite its RDE2-compliance, the Evoque’s BIK is the highest on this list at 32 per cent, but if you have your heart set on a premium compact SUV diesel this could be a viable choice. 

BIK bills for a 20 per cent taxpayer, opting for entry-level equipment, start from £165 but any extras could push the price up. 

Most engines feature Land Rover’s 48V mild hybrid technology, which can reduce emissions by 8g/km, alongside a 1.5-litre petrol plug-in hybrid with an 80kw electric motor, which is available from 2020.

Ford Focus Zetec 1.0 EcoBoost

  • Price £19,895
  • 0-62mph 11.2secs
  • Fuel Petrol 
  • CO₂ emissions 107g/km
  • BIK liability 25%
  • Official MPG 60

If you’re keen on running a petrol hatchback, the Zetec EcoBoost’s 25 per cent BIK banding should prove persuasive. 

Ford has made improvements to the Zetec’s interior quality by adding height and lumbar adjustment to the driver seat as standard, meaning bad backs will (hopefully) be kept to a minimum. It has also been awarded a top five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. 

While the standard in-car technology options fall flat when compared to its competitors, the Focus is certainly a frugal company car option.

Mercedes A-Class A220d AMG line

  • Price £29,390
  • 0-62mph 7.5secs
  • Fuel Diesel
  • CO₂ emissions 114g/km
  • BIK liability 23%
  • Official MPG 65.7 

One of the few models tested to RDE2 standards, drivers of the A220d will avoid the 4 per cent BIK surcharge on this diesel. Despite its sporty appearance, the A-Class emits relatively low CO2 of 114g/km and has a BIK liability of 23 per cent, but the fuel economy on motorway drives has been disputed. 

The A200d fairs slightly better, emitting 110g/km and delivering 67.3mpg but, for the price and overall features, the A220d is worth it. 

It boasts a top five-star Euro NCAP rating, and there will be fewer ‘mystery dents’ thanks to reverse parking assistant as standard.

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