Fleet News

Contract hire guide: diesel superminis

With the exception of the Ford Fiesta, no car in this comparison is more than two years old.

Although Ford tinkered with the Fiesta in 2005 with a mild facelift and some detail changes, this is nothing compared to the slew of all-new models launched into the supermini market.

Renault ushered in the all-new Clio III in the latter part of 2005 while 2006 saw the arrival of the Peugeot 207, Vauxhall Corsa and Fiat Grande Punto.

Now Skoda is making its entrance with an all-new Fabia – and this one follows the template laid down by the others in being larger, more refined and better equipped than its predecessors.

Available only as a five-door hatchback, the Fabia featured is in mid-spec 2 trim and powered by the familiar Volkswagen Group 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine producing 80bhp.

Competition in this sector is fierce, though, and just £400 separates our contenders on front-end price.

While none of these vehicles will be the first choice for user-choosers, their blend of space, performance, equipment and low benefit-in-kind tax bills will surely tempt some low-mileage drivers out of their lower-medium sector hatchbacks.

    Contract services manager, DaimlerChrysler Fleet Management

    This sector has grown significantly over the decades. Maybe not first choice for a fleet, but the ability to downgrade creates opportunities for the company car driver. Superminis should be inexpensive, practical and pack bags of character. It’s hard to believe some are in their fourth or fifth incarnation.

    Fiesta, now in its 30s, is the benchmark, closely followed by Corsa. French vehicles have well-received diesel engines and pronounced rear ends to maximise luggage space. Skoda has us believe the Fabia was redesigned in a cake factory – very tasty it is too.

    Head of risk, Hitachi Capital

    Vehicles in this group now outclass cars from the sector above from 10 years ago on both size and specification.

    The Fabia represents a strong package with high build quality and reliability, but the Corsa is a complete package that defines the sector, closely followed by the 207 with its competitive wholelife costs.

    Fiat’s revival is due to it developing stylish small cars like the Grande Punto, though reliability concerns result in a low residual value and high running costs.

    The Fiesta is now showing its age, and the Clio, though attracting some strong support, can’t offset the high running costs.

    Pricing manager, Lex

    With dimensions and safety that would have been credible in the next sector up a few years ago, this should be the fastest growing sector in fleet – and Corsa moving up in size could be just the catalyst.

    It’s hard to fault Vauxhall’s latest offering – engines, build quality, safety and options are excellent, while comfort and road-holding are equally impressive.

    The problem is that competition is tough – Fabia has been a real eye-opener, Clio and 207 look and feel great, and Ford’s Fiesta is still a serious benchmark

    The biggest surprise here is Grande Punto – sharing components with Corsa, this is every bit as good as the rest.

    Commercial operations manager, Lloyds TSB autolease

    Superminis offer practicality with a ‘small car, big car feel’. With low fuel consumption, emissions and BIK tax, these cars make popular and cost- effective purchases. There is little to separate the competition in this sector.

    The Fabia offers excellent build quality in this class and a distinctive sounding and frugal three-cylinder engine.

    The Grande Punto is much improved and looks great with its Guigiaro styling compared to the ageing but able Fiesta.

    The Clio and 207 are roomy and both are good value – however, a decent discount and low SMR costs make the Corsa the cheapest to lease.


    A low SMR bill and decent support from Peugeot gives the keenly-priced 207 the lowest average monthly rental. However, all six are close with £14 a month separating first from last.


    All six models fall into the lowest 18% benefit-in-kind tax band for diesel cars, so the tax difference is down to front-end price. It’s close, with £11 a year separating first and last. All cost £35 in Vehicle Excise Duty.


    Renault leads the way with the Clio returning 64.2mpg on the combined cycle. The Fabia is the least frugal, yet still returns 61.4mpg. This suggests that all will return real-world fuel economy in the high 50s.


    A strong performance from the Fabia, which will retain an average of 38% of cost new after three years/ 60,000 miles. The Fiat retains the lowest with an average RV of just 28%.


    Fiat is the most generous with support, offering an average of 15% off. Skoda’s support is fairly limited as you’d expect from a new model, while Ford is surprisingly the least generous given the Fiesta’s age.


    The Vauxhall is the only car to drop below the £1,000 mark for servicing, maintenance and repair costs over three years/60,000 miles. The Fiat, Ford and Peugeot are close, while the Skoda brings up the rear.

    How they voted

    1. Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi Club A/C

    P11D price: £11,275
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £446
    2007 VED bill: £35

    DCFM: £230
    Hitachi Capital: £235
    Lex: £212
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £212

    VERDICT: Low SMR costs and a fair degree of support put the Corsa first. It’s competitive on economy and has the second lowest monthly rental rate.

    2. Skoda Fabia2 1.4 TDI 80

    P11D price: £11,090
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £439
    2007 VED bill: £35
    DCFM: £230
    Hitachi Capital: £243
    Lex: £201
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £239

    VERDICT: By far the highest RV forecast, but it is expensive in SMR terms. Limited support gives it the second highest rental. Least fuel efficient here.

    3. Peugeot 207 1.4 HDi S

    P11D price: £10,990
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £435
    2007 VED bill: £35

    DCFM: £215
    Hitachi Capital: £224
    Lex: £211
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £224

    VERDICT: A strong performance all round gives the cheapest monthly rental rate. RV is on a par with rivals, while SMR bills are among the lowest.

    4. Ford Fiesta 1.4 TDCi Style Climate

    P11D price: £11,110
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £439
    2007 VED bill: £35

    Hitachi Capital: £236
    Lex: £217
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £244

    VERDICT: Despite its age the Fiesta is still a strong choice, although limited support gives the highest monthly rental. Residuals still holding firm, too.

    5. Renault Clio dCi 86 A/tique A/C

    P11D price: £10,870
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £430
    2007 VED bill: £35

    DCFM: £225
    Hitachi Capital: £238
    Lex: £211
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £233

    VERDICT: Strong RV and decent support put the Clio right into the mix, although SMR bills are high. Easily the most frugal model though.

    6. Fiat G/Punto 1.3 MJet 75 Dynam

    P11D price: £11,115
    2007 BIK bill (22%): £440
    2007 VED bill: £35

    DCFM: £218
    Hitachi Capital: £238
    Lex: £205
    Lloyds TSB autolease: £237

    VERDICT: Despite having the highest level of support, the Fiat falls down with a poor residual value forecast in this company. Praised for its styling.

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