Fleet News

Contract hire survey: small diesel SUVs

Volkswagen is the latest car manufacturer to launch a small SUV model into an already crowded market. Our panel assesses its chances

Has any other segment in the fleet industry been the subject of as much debate in the past year or two as the small SUV sector?

Firstly, the environmental lobby has labelled them, somewhat erroneously, as scourges of the planet and then, secondly, as more and more models appear, industry pundits wonder how on earth all the manufacturers are going to sell their predicted volumes.

We’ve put the latest and most popular models in the market under the scrutiny of our leasing panel.

There were others we just didn’t have the space to include, but we’ve gone for the key fleet manufacturers or perceived best-in-class vehicles as the criteria for our selection.

That means the Fleet News Award-winning Land Rover Freelander 2, the popular Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V, Peugeot’s new 4007, Vauxhall’s recently-launched Antara and the latest addition – Volkswagen’s Tiguan.

It goes to show just how competitive this sector is that nearly all of these cars are less than a year old.

To survive in such a cut-throat environment, these cars not only need strong residual values and low running costs, but acceptable emissions levels and a top-quality image.

What the panel thought

    Contract services manager, DaimlerChrysler Fleet Management

    Some say “what’s the point?” of this type of vehicle and some lobby against the perceived environmentally-unfriendly stereotype. Whatever the view, we still see new SUVs arriving.

    The Freelander, in its second generation, mixes styling from the Discovery and Range Rover Sport.

    The Peugeot 4007 offers an alternative to those wanting something bigger from the sector.

    Vauxhall hopes its Antara will bring SUV motoring to the masses.

    Toyota and Honda have proved over the past few years that a lack of premium badge is no deterrent in this sector.

    Head of risk, Hitachi Capital

    This sector has mushroomed over the last three months with a number of new entrants.

    Certainly, strong backing from Vauxhall makes the Antara a competitive choice, while the Tiguan has the capacity to perform well in this sector, but will be dependent upon the support on offer.

    Competitive running costs, comprehensive equipment levels and strong RVs characterise both the CR-V and RAV4, while the 4007 is outclassed in this sector and the rental rates reflect this.

    Land Rover’s attempt to move the Freelander upmarket has had some success, but the high front-end price makes it an expensive vehicle.

    Pricing manager, Lex

    Until recently the small SUV sector has been the preserve of three key models – RAV4, CR-V and Freelander.

    Not surprisingly, there are plenty of new entrants hoping to cash-in on one of the fastest-growing areas of the market.

    Toyota and Honda are on their third-generation models, while Land Rover’s latest Freelander is a huge step forward and the only product to begin to close the gap on the X5/ML/XC90 sector above.

    New entrants from Vauxhall, Volkswagen and Peugeot offer manufacturers the opportunity to keep buyers within the brand, but expect fierce competition soon when Ford’s Kuga appears.

    Commercial operations manager, Lloyds TSB autolease

    The strong brand image of the Freelander with its off-road pedigree makes this a highly-desirable SUV, as too are the established RAV4 and CR-V whose strengths include their undoubted reliability and car-like dynamics.

    The new Tiguan is certain to succeed thanks to the Volkswagen brand image and build quality, but the styling may be seen as conservative by some.

    The other newcomers in this increasingly crowded sector will attract some followers, but the Antara and 4007 are up against strong competition, so discount levels and residuals will be the key to their success.

    Average leasing rates

    Most of these SUVs cost similar monthly amounts, with the RAV4 and Antara the cheapest.

    The 4007 looks expensive, especially considering the offerings from the likes of Volkswagen, Honda and Land Rover.

    CO2 emissions

    The CR-V and RAV4 perform well when it comes to CO2 emissions. They are significantly ahead of the others and can compete with some large upper- medium saloons.

    Fuel economy

    Getting 40mpg in real-world driving from these big machines is a decent return. The CR-V is the best, although at nearly 38mpg the Antara and Freelander are hardly disgraced.

    Residual values

    Strong predicted returns from most of these cars shows why they are so popular, although the new 4007 looks a little off the pace of the others which doesn’t bode especially well for the future.

    Average discount

    Vauxhall is already tuned into fleets’ expectations of the rental price – hence the support. Peugeot may need to follow suit. Volkswagen is typically tight with its discount.

    Average maintenance

    None of these cars could be termed cheap in service, maintenance and repair costs, although the Antara is surprisingly the most expensive. The reliable Honda is suitably low.

    The results

    1. VW Tiguan 2.0 TDI Sport

    Volkswagen Tiguan 2.0 TDI Sport P11D price: £22,245
    2007 BIK bill (40%): £2,402
    2007 VED bill: £205

    DCFM: £444
    Hitachi Capital: £449
    Lex: £436
    Lloyds TSB autolease £419

    Straight to the top for the Tiguan, which sneaks ahead of the Freelander thanks to lower BIK, good RVs and a cheaper front-end price.

    2. Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 GS

    Land Rover Freelander 2.2 TD4 GS P11D price: £23,205
    2007 BIK bill (40%): £2,599
    2007 VED bill: £205

    DCFM: £485
    Hitachi Capital: £454
    Lex: £424
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £421

    The Freelander is a class act and came very close to the Tiguan. Only high SMR and front-end price stopped it taking the number one spot.

    3. Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi ES (S/N)

    Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi ES (S/N) P11D price: £22,602
    2007 BIK bill (40%): £2,169
    2007 VED bill: £165

    DCFM: £449
    Hitachi Capital: £434
    Lex: £407
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £442

    The new CR-V continues as a fleet favourite. Economy, emissions and high spec (sat-nav and hands-free phone) are its strengths.

    4. Toyota RAV4 2.2 D-4D XT4

    Toyota RAV4 2.2 D-4D XT4 P11D price: £22,630
    2007 BIK bill (40%): £2,172
    2007 VED bill: £165

    DCFM: £464
    Hitachi Capital: £418
    Lex: £371
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £401

    That the RAV4 is looking a little long in the tooth shows how fast this sector is moving. It does nothing wrong and is a very strong contender.

    5. Vauxhall Antara 2.0 CDTi S

    Vauxhall Antara 2.0 CDTi S P11D price: £22,365
    2007 BIK bill (40%): £2,594
    2007 VED bill: £205

    DCFM: £410
    Hitachi Capital: £424
    Lex: £424
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £430


    The Antara is a good-looking and well-packaged SUV, and benefits from considerable Vauxhall support. RVs are slightly lower than the strongest in class.

    6. Peugeot 4007 2.2 HDi SE

    Peugeot 4007 2.2 HDi SE P11D price: £22,535
    2007 BIK bill (40%) : £2,524
    2007 VED bill: £205

    DCFM: £488
    Hitachi Capital: £471
    Lex: £450
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £488


    Peugeot has some work to do with the 4007, which is a good car but will need some support and effective marketing to succeed.

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