Fleet News

Shift to smaller cars in contract hire market

The Mercedes C-Class, Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 are the only cars to have retained their position in the top ten contract hire market compared to a decade ago, new research suggests.

According to data released by ContractHireAndLeasing.com, a radical shift in the most popular contract hire cars in the last ten years has seen smaller vehicles displace larger vehicles and more traditional executive models.

The 2004 list of the most searched-for business and personal leasing cars features two Saab models, the Land Rover Discovery, BMW 5 Series, BMW X5, BMW X3 and Audi A4.

The collapse of Saab has naturally seen the 9-3 vanish from the 2014 list, but there is also a notable shift to more compact, fuel efficient models.

Top models based on searches on the website between January 2014 and the end of June 2014 include the Mercedes A-Class, BMW 1 Series, Nissan Qashqai, Ford Fiesta and Range Rover Evoque.

The Ford Fiesta - Britain's top-selling car over the last few years - and a clear favourite with car buyers, is also now one of the UK's top contract hire cars too. Data from the website searches suggests that the entry of models like the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Qashqai into the top searches has been driven by personal leasing customers*.

The Mercedes C-Class tops the searches so far in 2014, moving up from eighth place in 2004.

German brands have had a tiny hiccup in the last decade; they now claim seven of the ten top search places, compared to eight in 2004.

Launched in 2000, ContractHireAndLeasing.com was just four years old in 2004, and the website too has grown and developed in the subsequent ten years to the point where it now advertises more than a million car and van leasing deals each month.

Dave Timmis, managing director of ContractHireAndLeasing.com, said: "We have seen a shift in the size of the typical car searched for on the website over the last ten years, as consumers look for vehicles which are tax and fuel efficient.

"New entries such as like the Nissan Qashqai and Ford Fiesta suggests that leasing customers are increasingly looking for vehicles which than are practical and cheaper to run."

How 2014's top ten most popular contract hire cars compares to 2004's list, according to ContractHireAndLeasing.com website searches:


First half of 2014



Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Volkswagen Golf


Mercedes-Benz E-Class



Volkswagen Golf

Audi A4


Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Saab 9-3


BMW 3 Series

Audi A3


BMW 1 Series

BMW 5-Series


Audi A3



Range Rover Evoque

Mercedes C-Class


Nissan Qashqai

Land Rover Discovery


Ford Fiesta

Saab 9-3 Convertible

* Based on Google Analytics data for 2014 on ContractHireAndLeasing.com which shows that personal leasing pages for the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Qashqai have been more successful than businesses deal pages for the same models.


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