Fleet News

Contract hire survey: diesel MPVs

SALES of people-carriers are going through the roof this year, with demand from fleets seeing a near-20% increase in demand.

Mini-MPVs in particular are proving very popular, with their blend of compact size and family-friendly layout.

It is also a sector which has seen some activity in the past few months, with Renault giving the Scenic family a refresh late last year and Volkswagen updating its bland Touran with a much- needed facelift earlier this year.

But it is Citroën that is making waves in the market with its all-new C4 Grand Picasso, a full seven-seater that manages to balance practicality and economy with a stylish exterior.

The one they must all beat, however, is the evergreen Vauxhall Zafira, a model that has dominated the sector since its launch in 1999 thanks to its pioneering (at the time) Flex7 seating system, which allows the seats to be collapsed into the floor to create a flat loading area.

Nowadays, all the car firms have their own versions of this system, so the Zafira no longer has this distinct advantage in the sector. What it does offer is a wide range of models, competitive running costs and affordable lease rates. The Citroën has a tough job on its hands.

  • DEAN WOODWARD
    Contract services manager, DaimlerChrysler Fleet Management

    VAUXHALL’S Zafira gave this sector real impetus on its launch in 1999, with innovative design that claimed much of the seven-seat MPV market. While it retains a cult following, storage space and standard equipment could be better.

    The Mazda5 has useful twin sliding doors. The driving experience is lively, if slightly hard. The Picasso has striking looks inside and out, with excellent visibility.

    The Toyota’s diesel engine performs well, contrasting with the underpowered Renault.

    The Touran’s cabin and classy build balances comfort and control, but newer rivals offer more versatile seating.

  • STEVE JONES
    Pricing manager, Lex

    NO easy task, choosing a mini-MPV – it needs to carry the under-11 five-a-side team but not look or feel like a bus.

    The best drives here are the two Japanese cars, with the Mazda5 living up to its ‘zoom-zoom’ image and the Toyota feeling very sure-footed.

    The C4 Picasso is excellent, offering huge amounts of space, clever foldable seats and great visibility.

    Volkswagen has facelifted the Touran, adding some extra character to its practicality and durability.

    The Renault and the Vauxhall set the benchmark – Zafira’s folding seats are the stuff of legend in playgrounds throughout the land.

  • CHRIS CROW
    Head of risk, Hitachi Capital

    APPEALING to those with young families and active life- styles, this sector has grown in volume and vehicle size.

    Drivers choosing these vehicles require versatility – the ability to accommodate varying combinations of people and luggage at the weekend, without a bus-like driving experience on the commute.

    Citroën’s first seven-seat attempt looks good, as does the Mazda, which combines style and practicality.

    Poor RVs and high running costs hamper the Scenic.

    Volkswagen and Toyota’s strong RVs and running costs result in competitive rentals, while the Zafira will appeal to those holding the purse strings.

  • ANDREW MEE
    Commercial operations manager, Lloyds TSB autolease

    IN the past, this sector was all about function, but now form is much more of a consideration.

    Small MPVs have moved on since the Scenic and Zafira were unchallenged, though in their latest forms they are still strong contenders.

    New styling standards have been set by Citroën and Mazda, with the C4 offering excellent visibility and a smooth ride, while the latter benefits from sliding side doors.

    The Touran and Verso also reflect the qualities of this new generation. The Scenic comes out first for rental, but overall the Zafira just edges it with a combination of style, practicality and value.

    Average leasing rates

    THE Mazda’s low front-end price and strong RV give the lowest rental. The Touran is the most expensive, with the least discount on offer. The Renault makes up for a poor RV with plenty of support.

    CO2 emissions

    THE Renault has the smallest engine and is the least powerful, helping it fall into the lowest (for a diesel) 18% BIK tax band, with the C4 and Touran next at 21%. The Mazda5 is the highest at 24%.

    Fuel economy

    ONCE again, the Renault is way in front and is the only model to beat 50mpg combined. The Citroën, Vauxhall and Volkswagen are very evenly matched, while the Mazda and Toyota are close in last place.

    Residual values

    THE Renault brand suffers, rightly or wrongly, from a perception of poor reliability and this hits used demand, putting the Grand Scenic last. The Toyota and Volkswagen, both noted for their quality, are top.

    Average discount

    RENAULT is the most generous when it comes to support, offering an average of 16% off the Grand Scenic. Volkswagen offers the least, with an average of just 7% off the recently-revised Touran.

    Average maintenance

    THE Zafira has a large advantage in SMR terms, undercutting the next cheapest, the Mazda5, by nearly £200 over 60,000 miles. Once again, Renault’s reliability legacy hits the Grand Scenic.

    Verdict

    1. Citroën C4 G/Picasso 1.6 HDi SX

    P11D price: £17,322
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £800
    2007 VED bill: £140

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFML: £318
    Hitachi Capital: £364
    Lex: £352
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £328

    VERDICT: Winning praise for its style and interior, the C4 stacks up with a strong RV, average levels of discount and a competitive monthly rental.

    2. Vauxhall Zafira 1.9 CDTi 120 Life

    P11D price: £17,097
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £827
    2007 VED bill: £140

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFM: £304
    Hitachi Capital: £334
    Lex: £321 Lloyds TSB autolease: £323

    VERDICT: Low SMR costs contribute to the second lowest rental and the Zafira holds its value well. Still a strong all-round package for fleets and drivers.

    3. Volkswagen Touran 1.9 TDI SE

    P11D price: £17,792
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £821
    2007 VED bill: £140

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFM: £312
    Hitachi Capital: £362
    Lex: £391
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £331

    VERDICT: Little in the way of support from Volkswagen means the Touran has the highest monthly rental, although a strong RV pegs costs back slightly.

    4. Mazda5 2.0d TS2

    P11D price: £16,652
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £879
    2007 VED bill: £165

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFM: £297
    Hitachi Capital: £292
    Lex: £325
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £317

    VERDICT: The cheapest of the six to rent, the 5 has a low front-end price, strong RV and decent support from Mazda. High CO2 and low economy are downsides.

    5. Toyota Verso 2.2 D-4D T3

    P11D price: £17,922
    2007 BIK bill (22%) £906
    2007 VED bill: £165

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFM: £327
    Hitachi Capital: £360
    Lex: £344
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £342

    VERDICT: A high front-end price and steep BIK bills blunt the Toyota’s challenge. The best RV of the six, but there’s not much discount on offer from Toyota.

    6. Renault G/Scenic 1.5 dCi Extreme

    P11D price: £16,767
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £663
    2007 VED bill: £115

    RENTAL RATES:
    DCFM: £298
    Hitachi Capital: £394
    Lex: £311
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £302

    VERDICT: Not even a generous discount can offset a poor RV and high SMR costs. It does offer the lowest BIK bills and the best economy returns, though.

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