Fleet News

Contract hire survey: Lower-medium diesel estates

It’s not often you can say that the lower-medium diesel estate sector is exciting, but at the moment there’s rather a lot going on.

Not that many drivers would care.

Most get one of these cars replete with company stickers and a clipboard filled with jobs to get done.

But there is hope.

The Ford Focus has been revised, giving it an even greater feel of quality and looks that are a little less anonymous.

Alongside its excellent drive, it has low emissions and high economy, too.

Competing strongly with it will be the Peugeot 308 SW.

True, the model featured here doesn’t have some of the swanky features, such as panoramic sunroof and seven seats, but it’s the best- looking car of the 308 range and even in entry-level spec feels high quality inside.

The Volkswagen Golf and Vauxhall Astra are known quantities and neither will let you down.

Two new entrants are from the South Korean manufacturers, Hyundai and Kia.

Both the Cee’d and i30 major on improved quality, a more European feel and a high value package.

However, in a market dependent on absolutely buttoned- down costs, can they compete with firms that have been doing this brilliantly for years?

On the panel: Ivor Johnson, Leasedrive Velo

The competition is so strong, it’s difficult to choose.

Since most choose an estate for what it can transport and the Peugeot has nearly 30% more carrying capacity and a smooth diesel, it gets my vote, just nudging out the Ford.

The Focus is a good all-rounder, quiet and fun to drive, and has the best economy and CO2.

The Golf’s reputation for handling, quality and residuals transfers well to the estate.

The Vauxhall is let down by poor residuals.

The Kia is cheapest and has a seven-year warranty but falls short on ride comfort.

The Hyundai carries the least and is less at home on motorways.

On the panel: Tony Williams, All-in-One

The Focus, Astra and Golf are permanent top five fleet best- sellers.

A tough act to follow but the South Korean stablemates have risen to the challenge.

Uncertainty on the residual and SMR values make their running costs higher than their well established counterparts.

The Focus has very commendable CO2 emissions for its dimensions and provides an excellent fleet package, with the Astra coming in second.

Peugeots have a strong tradition for excellent estates while Volkswagen has lost out on wholelife costs and emissions.

The Korean pair provide interesting alternatives.

On the panel: Mark Sinclair, Alphabet

This is a high-mileage sector where wholelife costs should rule.

The Focus leads the way with low rentals, maintenance and fuel consumption – and the only sub-120g/km CO2.

The low BIK and private fuel costs are great for drivers, too.

The Golf’s greater thirst puts it behind the Focus on wholelife costs and BIK tax.

For us, the versatile and frugal 308 SW loses out on servicing costs.

Both South Korean cars offer drivers great value but low residual values for the Cee’d, and lower manufacturer support for the i30, raise lease costs.

A solid fleet performer, the Vauxhall Astra is now showing its age.

On the panel: Stuart Menzies, Grosvenor Contracts Leasing

The Focus is the most complete all-round car for both fleet manager and driver, while the Golf is probably more attractive for drivers but more expensive to run.

The Astra and 308 are closely matched.

As a workhorse the proven but ageing Astra is hard to beat, while the 308 is very stylish.

Kia and Hyundai have their work cut out breaking into this very competitive sector.

Until the fleet industry has a better understanding of their reliability, servicing costs, aftersales support and residual values, it is going to be tough for them.

But the cars are very good, and that’s a strong start.

Average leasing rates

The Focus shows its strong hand here with the lowest average rental, which it achieves thanks to good residuals, decent SMR costs and reasonable discount.

The i30 looks expensive against its Kia cousin.

CO2 emissions

Again, the Focus is ahead of the field, although there is now a Golf BlueMotion available.

Getting hold of lots of them might prove problematical.

Surely Vauxhall must be getting lower emissions models out soon?

Fuel economy

All six of these cars offer excellent fuel economy, ideal for high mileage workhorses. Focus is the best at more than 60mpg.

Don’t expect any great performance as are all fairly low power versions.

Residual values

As always, the Volkswagen comes top against its major competitors in terms of residual values, but the Focus and 308 put up a decent showing. The other three lag some way behind.

Average discount

As the oldest car here, and sold in huge volume, it’s no surprise that the Astra has the highest discount.

Hyundai might need to find some support to compete with the top fleet brands.

Average maintenance

There is evidence that leasing firms are not certain about the Koreans yet.

More than £300 difference between the Kia and Hyundai, very similar cars, suggest SMR prediction is difficult.

2008 Ford Focus estate

The votes: In first place is the Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi Studio
P11D price £15,035
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (20%) £399
2008 VED bill £35

Rental rates:
All-in-One £254
Alphabet £292
Grosvenor £313
Leasedrive Velo £305

Verdict: The Focus does it all and claims a fairly easy win. Good residuals, low tax, reliability and the best drive make it a great fleet workhorse.

2008 Peugeot 308 SW

The votes: In second place is the Peugeot 308 SW HDi 90 S
P11D price £14,998
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (20%) £559
2008 VED bill £115

Rental rates:
All-in-One £272
Alphabet £313
Grosvenor £318
Leasedrive Velo £302

Verdict: The new 308 SW comes second here as it competes well on costs across its whole life, while offering a very stylish package indeed.

2008 Volkswagen Golf estate

The votes: In third place is the Volkswagen Golf Estate 1.9 TDI S
P11D price £15,075
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (40%) £560
2008 VED bill £115

Rental rates: All-in-One £292
Alphabet £296
Grosvenor £305
Leasedrive Velo £324

Verdict: A typically robust performance from the Golf sees it in third. By far the best residual values while a well-built interior gives it a classy feel.

2008 Vauxhall Astra estate

The votes: In fourth place is the Vauxhall Astra 1.3 CDTi 90 Life

P11D price £14,877
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (20%) £557
2008 VED bill £115

Rental rates:
All-in-One £253
Alphabet £312
Grosvenor £326
Leasedrive Velo £320

Verdict: The Astra is ageing but is still very competitive thanks to support from Vauxhall and dependability.
It will not disappoint.

The votes: In fifth place is the Kia Cee’d SW 1.6 CRDi GS

P11D price £13,295
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (20%) £496
2008 VED bill £115

Rental rates:
All-in-One £289
Alphabet £298
Grosvenor £297
Leasedrive Velo £290

Verdict: The Cee’d certainly offers great value and is catching up with the competition. Stronger residual values and alower SMR would give it a real chance.


2008 Hyundai i30

The votes: In sixth place is the Hyundai i30 CRDi Comfort

P11D price £13,112
2008 CO2 BIK tax bill (20%) £492
2008 VED bill £115

Rental rates:
All-in-One £315
Alphabet £304
Grosvenor £310
Leasedrive Velo £309

Verdict: The Hyundai suffers from low residuals which are not offset by enough support. It’s a very good car, but looks more like a retail proposition.

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