Fleet News

Contract hire survey: upper-medium diesel estates

Hive of activity as car firms update ranges

FOR fleets which have drivers who need to transport samples or other hefty loads, upper-medium estate cars are a real boon.

The current breed offer huge load volumes, and all come with a choice of the latest generation diesel engines.

And manufacturers have been busy in this sector recently, with a host of revisions to their offerings.

The newest addition to the sector is Volkswagen’s Passat estate, bringing strong residual values and a desirable badge as well as all the virtues which have made the saloon such a success.

Vauxhall has also been busy with its Vectra range. There’s a new front-end design treatment, uprated interior trim and a host of mechanical changes under the skin which make the model much better to drive than its predecessor.

Ford’s Mondeo has also been revised, with some slight interior and exterior tweaks and specification changes, and the same is true of the Mazda6 and the Renault Laguna Sport Tourer, both of which have changed appearance slightly.

Peugeot’s 407 SW majors more on style than serious load-lugging ability, although it offers a good compromise to drivers.

Ford Mondeo estate 2.0 TDCi 115 LX

P11D price £17,627
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £698/£1,269
2006 VED bill £135
Rental Rates
Lombard £303
Masterlease £372
Custom Fleet £352
Arval £398
Alphabet £317

Mazda6 2.0d 121 estate

P11D price £16,002
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £704/£1,280
2006 VED bill £155
Rental Rates
Lombard £305
Masterlease £338
Custom Fleet £327
Arval £360
Alphabet £311

Peugeot 407 SW 1.6 HDi 110 S

P11D price £17,197
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £605/£1,100
2006 VED bill £115
Rental Rates
Lombard £327
Masterlease £351
Custom Fleet £336
Arval £379
Alphabet £336

Renault Laguna Sport Tourer 1.9 dCi 120 Expression

P11D price £17,402
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £765/£1,392
2006 VED bill £135
Rental Rates
Lombard £317
Masterlease £337
Custom Fleet £307
Arval £346
Alphabet £317

Vauxhall Vectra estate 1.9 CDTi 120 Exclusiv

P11D price £16,877
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £668/£1,215
2006 VED bill £135
Rental Rates
Lombard £330
Masterlease £366
Custom Fleet £336
Arval £382
Alphabet £336

Volkswagen Passat estate 1.9 TDI S

P11D price £16,742
2006 CO2 BIK tax bill (22%/40%) £662/£1,205
2006 VED bill £135
Rental Rates
Lombard £297
Masterlease £352
Custom Fleet £313
Arval £334
Alphabet £319

Commercial director, Alphabet (GB)

SOLID, load-lugging virtues have kept fleet sales of estates stable despite competition from MPVs, although volume versions have to work harder at maintaining their appeal these days.

The Volkswagen Passat achieves this through its excellent build quality, badge cachet and best-in-class residual values.

Peugeot’s 407 SW looks good while giving away some luggage space, but there is no denying its strong appeal.

Renault still builds cars with character, and drivers who like the Laguna will no doubt like the dCi 130 model even more.

A mainstay of estate sales, the Mondeo is a proven all-rounder, although fleets tend to go for the higher powered 130bhp version.

The Vectra makes light work of large loads, with the highest capacity, excellent load space organiser system and ample power.

Mazda continues to raise the profile of its larger cars and the 6 is well worth a try.

Head of strategic and international sales, Arval

GREAT driving experiences and storage capacity are the keys to coming out on top in this sector.

Volkswagen brings class to the sector, although the Passat is becoming passé – not the most exciting but German build quality means a solid, if not sexy, experience.

The Mondeo suffers from an ordinary image but offers excellent comfort, generous accommodation and excellent safety and security, but popularity puts a strain on the residuals.

The Peugeot is pedestrian but you don’t buy an estate car like this to get a rush. Well specified and distinctive to look at, what it sacrifices for space it compensates for with style.

The Laguna continues to improve and while it doesn’t have the greatest storage space, it is a pleasant car with a reputation for safety.

The Vectra is the staple diet of the fleet market. It is comfortable, reliable and affordable. For those who seek solid reliability and unglamorous comfort it never fails.

The Mazda6 gets my vote, though. It is a hungry-looking beast and a smart mover. Crisp steering and great control adds up to a pleasurable ride.

Trade services manager, Custom Fleet

IT IS difficult to find a bad car in this company, and there are some very good ones which are perfectly suited to the fleet task in hand.

Our pick is the Passat – the newest of these six and the best from a fleet perspective. It offers everything a fleet might be looking for, and is the most up-to-date with an excellent engine. This model boasts very strong residual values – an overall combination that helps to produce very competitive monthly rentals.

It is less easy to place the next four cars as they are all very close to each other. Our second choice by a narrow margin is the Mazda6, which edges the Vectra into third.

The Vauxhall has one of the largest load-carrying capacities of any of the models selected, as well as an excellent engine, while the Mondeo, as with many Fords, does nothing badly and many things very well.

The 407 offers the lowest CO2 emissions but also one of the highest P11D values so it is not an automatic pick for a tax-conscious driver, and that shark-like front end may not appeal to everyone.

The Laguna brings up the rear, largely because it is the oldest model and offers the least up-to-date engine.

Senior pricing analyst, Masterlease

THE Passat is the newest entrant into the sector and has changed from a capable, if somewhat unexciting, car to a real alternative to some of the more prestigious offerings from Audi and BMW.

The Mondeo is second only to the Vectra in load capacity and offers excellent ride and handling and a well-shaped, cavernous boot.

With the smallest load capacity, the 407 can appear to be a victim of design over practicality. However, it is very distinctive, and for someone who doesn’t require the huge volumes of the Vectra or Mondeo, it provides a more stylish alternative.

The Laguna’s biggest challenge is that it is the oldest model here and cars such as the Vectra and Passat have moved the game on.

The Mazda6 is the more sporting car, with the most powerful engine and a load capacity just behind the Passat.

The recent mid-life facelift has freshened the appeal of the Vectra and the mechanical changes have helped to bring it closer to its arch rival the Mondeo in terms of ride and handling. Like the Mondeo, the Vectra is more of a workhorse, but if you need a large load space they don’t come much bigger.



GREAT build quality, a strong engine and unparalleled residual values for the sector – Volkswagen’s Passat estate takes victory by a clear margin.


THE sportiest car in this comparison, the Mazda6 scores highly with its driver involvement, RVs and good looks. It’s also practical, with good amount of load space.


A HUGE boot, excellent road holding and a strong repuation for safety and security. The Mondeo is one of those cars which does everything competently.


THE recent revisions to the styling and driving experience have paid off, with the Vectra narrowly losing out to its arch-rival in this comparison.

5. PEUGEOT 407

THE 407 SW majors more on style than serious load-lugging capability. Our panel wonders if the striking front-end styling will put off as many people as it attracts.


WITH the least up-to-date engine and being the oldest design here, the Laguna hasn’t kept pace with its rivals. A poor reliability record also counts against it.

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