Fleet News

Peugeot 307 vs Skoda Octavia vs Toyota Corolla

Peugeot

Review

Choice is a very important thing for the legions of company car-driving workers up and down the country. After all, the car you give to your drivers will be theirs for roughly three years and a lot of business miles, as well as carrying them and their families around at weekends and on holidays.

While some drivers have the luxury of an array of models to choose from, for others the choice is limited because the car is decided upon for its ability to carry out a specific purpose.

Which is why you see the cars here – all workhorse diesel estates which will be driven by employees with a bootload of samples and spare parts to ferry about. While your company may have decided on the type of vehicle your drivers will have – i.e a diesel lower-medium estate – we are going to let you know which is the pick of the bunch from our shortlist of three cars in terms of operating costs and driver fulfilment.

We have chosen three of the best diesel-engined cars in this sector: Peugeot's 307 estate HDi, Skoda's Octavia estate TDI and the Toyota Corolla D-4D estate.

All three have an engine which forever banishes the image of diesel as being slow, rattly and smokey – these cars use the latest technology to provide a frugal driving companion for your high mileage driving colleagues.

And while your colleagues may be happy, you as the fleet decision-maker will be too because all three cars on test offer low running costs. Over three years and 60,000 miles, our number crunchers calculate that all three cars will cost in the mid-20s pence per mile to run.

The Skoda Octavia comes third in our test, costing 24.38ppm to run over a typical fleet lifecycle. It may have the lowest front-end price of our trio, but its residual value prediction from CAP after three years and 60,000 miles counts against it - it is predicted to retain just 27% of its cost new. That gives it a depreciation cost of 14.92ppm – the highest here. The Octavia is also the most expensive car here in terms of servicing, maintenance and repair costs at 2.33ppm.

However, it is the best on fuel consumption - it records 54.3mpg on the combined cycle for a cost of 7.13ppm.

Next up is the Toyota Corolla on 23.85ppm. The Corolla scores well on depreciation costs (13.77ppm) which is the lowest figure here, but its falls down by having the highest fuel costs (8.08ppm) thanks to the lowest combined fuel economy figure of 47.6mpg.

Which leaves the Peugeot 307 estate as the winner, costing 23.65ppm to run. Interestingly enough, the Peugeot does not win any section outright but its consistent performance across the board helps its cause, narrowly edging the Toyota Corolla out of first place.

In wholelife cost terms there is little to separate our test trio - the gap in costs between first and third place is 0.73ppm so the real decision will come down to driving impressions, interior space and vehicle durability.

All three are also close on monthly contract hire costs – just £1 separates them, and in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, all three quality for the lowest rate of benefit-in-kind company car tax for non-Euro IV compliant diesel engines.

It really is very close here, so driving impressions may be the best way to decide.

Peugeot 307 estate HDi 90

PEUGEOT takes its already spacious 307 model, adds an estate and creates one of the biggest cars in its market. HDi 90bhp engine struggles a little here but space and equipment are first rate.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £13,925
CO2 emissions (g/km): 143
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 18%
Graduated VED rate: £110
Insurance group: 6
Combined mpg: 52.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,725/34%
Depreciation (14.09 pence per mile x 60,000): £8,454
Maintenance (2.16 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,296
Fuel (7.40 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,440
Wholelife cost (23.65 pence per mile x 60,000): £14,190
Typical contract hire rate: £300 per month

Skoda Octavia estate 1.9 Tdi

VOLKSWAGEN Group influence is evident here, from familiar controls to an excellent pumpe duse diesel engine. Competitive on price, but residual value prediction is poor.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £13,120
CO2 emissions (g/km): 140
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 18%
Graduated VED rate: £110
Insurance group: 7
Combined mpg: 54.3
CAP Monitor residual value: £3,475/26%
Depreciation (14.92 pence per mile x 60,000): £8,952
Maintenance (2.33 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,398
Fuel (7.13 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,278
Wholelife cost (24.38 pence per mile x 60,000): £14,628 Typical contract hire rate: £299 per month

Toyota Corolla estate 2.0 D-4D

THE lowest-powered car of our trio, but it doesn't feel it. Excellent gearbox and low down torque make this an easy driving companion. Interior space and finish is excellent.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £13,640
CO2 emissions (g/km): 156
BIK % of P11D in 2002: 18%
Graduated VED rate: £130
Insurance group: 5
Combined mpg: 47.8
CAP Monitor residual value: £4,550/33%
Depreciation (13.77 pence per mile x 60,000): £8,262
Maintenance (2.00 pence per mile x 60,000): £1,200
Fuel (8.08 pence per mile x 60,000): £4,848
Wholelife cost (23.85 pence per mile x 60,000): £14,310
Typical contract hire rate: £300 per month

Peugeot 307 estate HDi 90 Rapier

THE Peugeot 307 is probably the most attractive car in this test, and we feel the longer wheelbase and addition of an estate rear end and roof rails makes it a smarter looking car than the hatchback.

Significantly longer than the standard 307, the estate has all the credentials to make it a fine fleet workhorse.

Our metallic blue test car included the 'cobalt' ambience interior which means a colour-coded slush moulded dashboard, which really helps lift the tone.

Rear-seat passengers are well catered for, with the longer wheelbase liberating more space for legroom and the estate roofline ensuring headroom is more than adequate. The driving position is another matter. More than one of our testers found it difficult to find ideal comfort for driving, despite a wide range of adjustment for both seat and steering wheel.

Luggage space is reasonable with the rear seats and load cover in place and exceeds the Corolla's capacity by 100 litres. It expands to more than 1,800 litres with the rear seats folded.

Meanwhile, in 90bhp HDi trim the 307 doesn't quite feel as lively as it should be. Perhaps we have become too used to modern, high-output turbodiesel engines with ludicrous levels of torque, but our earlier experience of the 110bhp estate also left us questioning where all the power went.

The 307 feels comfortable when dealing with more challenging sections of B-roads with plenty of feedback through the steering wheel, and despite the engine needing some coaxing to get the best out of it, it is responsive enough in the mid-range to make good progress.

For

  • Exterior styling
  • Most spacious inside
  • Lowest running costs

    Against

  • Uncomfortable driving position
  • Lacklustre performance
  • Awkward gearchange

    Skoda Octavia estate 1.9 TDI Ambiente

    DESPITE the all-round competence we have come to expect from Skoda, the Octavia was probably the underdog in this comparison.

    Now the oldest car in Skoda's range, its £500-plus advantage in list price is negated in the world of whole-life costs. But from the perspective of doing the job it was meant for, the Octavia excels.

    With the best fuel consumption and lowest carbon dioxide emissions, the Octavia is the only one to provide drivers with the opportunity of listening to cassettes as well as CDs.

    Ride quality is the firmest of our trio. Handling, on the other hand, is sharp with very little roll in corners and positive steering.

    The brakes have excellent stopping power, while the gearstick switches cogs with typical VW Group precision.

    The Octavia begins to lose the argument in styling and packaging. The front end looks a bit too square compared with the feline appearance of the Peugeot and the rounded Toyota.

    Although the two-tone interior is a welcome contrast from the dark cabin of the Corolla, the materials are hard where the newer cars in the sector make wider use of soft-touch moulding.

    The rear passenger compartment seems very tight for space both in terms of legroom and shoulder room.

    None of the engines here are particularly quiet, but the Skoda's seemed the most intrusive at lower revs, while the 2.0HDi in the 307 has a slightly more subdued note. Four years ago the Octavia showed just how far Skoda had come, but now it is showing signs of losing ground to more modern opposition.

    For

  • Lowest front-end price
  • Best fuel economy
  • Equipment level

    Against

  • Hard plastics inside
  • Lack of space
  • Dated styling

    Toyota Corolla estate 2.0 D-4D T2

    ##Toyo group--none##

    TOYOTA has provided an impressively wide range of vehicles in the new Corolla range with saloon and estate models joining the hatchbacks.

    Front-end detail changes distinguish the saloon and estates from the hatches as well as the different profiles. It has to be said that the Corolla estate does not look as dynamic as the 307, but it is pleasing to the eye and seems well built.

    The interior gives an impression of higher quality than the other two cars, but the Corolla's pricing puts this entry-level car on a par with the higher-spec 307 Rapier and Octavia Ambiente.

    It means the Corolla T2 does without air conditioning, which seems even more bizarre when there is no sunroof fitted in lieu or even offered on the options list. It also does without electric door mirrors, although electric front windows are included.

    The Corolla certainly isn't short of space and seems to provide as much room in the rear as the 307 does with its longer wheelbase. And we found it far easier to get comfortable behind the wheel than in the 307.

    Toyota was fairly prompt to jump on the common-rail diesel bandwagon, although the only variant available with the Corolla is the 89bhp version – top hatchback models also come with a 109bhp unit. It pulls keenly from low revs, despite having a relatively narrow power band and it is reasonably refined on the move, feeling a bit livelier than the 307.

    The Corolla is pleasant to drive, too, feeling just about as sharp as the 307 in handling, while providing a slightly more cosseting ride. It easily has the measure of the Skoda from the driver's point of view, and as an all-rounder would just pip the 307, too.

    For

  • Good interior quality
  • Comfortable ride
  • Neat handling

    Against

  • Sombre interior
  • Low standard specification
  • Below par fuel economy

    Verdict

    THIS group test comes down to a battle of running costs against driver appeal. The Peugeot 307 estate wins the financial argument but the Toyota Corolla estate is the best car to drive. If this had been a petrol engine comparison, Toyota's VVT-i engine would have swung the contest in its favour but as this is a diesel duel the more efficient HDi engine in the Peugeot beats the Toyota's D-4D unit with the Skoda Octavia estate a distant third.

  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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