· 3 min read · Features

Choosing your next company car: Part two

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In the second part of our company car guide, we examine the best alternative fuel options.

Hybrid and electric vehicles are not only environmentally-friendly, they'll help you save on petrol bills too.

Lexus IS300h Luxury

With emissions of 103g/km despite having a sports car-like 220bhp, it’s clear why the Lexus is so appealing. It’ll cost just £134 per month in BIK tax, runs on pure electric at low speeds, and will be cheap for the company too. It has some problems though. Even this mid-spec Luxury doesn’t get leather trim or sat-nav – it costs £2395 to add them. A firm ride also makes the IS less comfortable than some rivals, and there’s a bit less passenger room inside. Some IS owners also find that real-world economy is a long way off what’s claimed.

Fact file:
Lexus IS300h Luxury
Price OTR/P11D: £30,995/£30,940
CO2: 103g/km
BIK rate (2014-15/2015-16): 13/15%
Engine: 2.5-litre, 4cyl, petrol plus electric motor
Economy (combined): 64.2mpg
Power: 220bhp
0-62mph: 8.4sec

BMW i3 EV 

The BMW i3 will appeal as much for its sci-fi looks as for the electric range of up to 100 miles. It’s a stunning car inside, with clean-looking, minimalist textures including unvarnished wood. It’s also entertaining to drive thanks to surprising acceleration and nimble handling. Remarkably, zero-emissions cars are free of BIK tax until April 2015, when it rises to £51 per month. You can get a range-extender version of the i3, which has a two-cylinder petrol engine that doubles the total range, but it costs £3150 more and is still restricted by the tiny 9-litre tank. If long weekends are likely then a plug-in hybrid with no restrictions, such as the A3 e-tron, would be better suited.

Fact file:
BMW i3 EV
Price OTR/P11D: £25,980*/£30,925
CO2: 0g/km
BIK rate (2014-15/2015-16): 0/5%
Engine: Electric motor
Economy (combined): 0g/km
Power: 168bhp
0-62mph: 7.2sec

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 

The Outlander plug-in hybrid will do around 30 miles on electric power alone, before the 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks in to keep you going. This means that plenty of people will be able to commute on electric only (especially if they can plug in at the office), and still use the PHEV like any conventional car for longer trips. With four-wheel drive and all the practicalities of an SUV body, it’s a lot of car for not much tax burden, at £56 per month BIK. Given the 100% write down allowance in the first year, and vastly reduced national insurance contributions, your company will be pleased too. Just be wary that in reality the PHEV is not that fast, and not that economical after the 2.0-litre petrol engine has started up. A normal diesel SUV is likely to be better to drive and cheaper to fill up for high mileage drivers.

Fact file:
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX3h
Price OTR/P11D: £28,249*/£33,249
CO2: 44g/km
BIK rate (2014-15/2015-16): 5/5%
Engine: 2.0-litre, 4cyl, petrol plus plug-in electric motor
Economy (combined): 148.5mpg
Power: 119bhp
0-62mph: 11.0sec

Tesla Model S 60

This remarkable pure-electric saloon is an American creation that offers an impressive range of up to 215 miles, despite having 298bhp. The cabin is practical, with two boots and loads of room, and it’s dominated by a 17-inch iPad-like screen that controls all the systems. It’s big, but it’s still a joy to drive. If your company will foot the associated costs it’s also cheap to run, at zero BIK until March 2015, and £90 per month for the year following.

Fact file:
Tesla Model S 60
Price OTR/P11D: £50,280*/£54,380
CO2: 0g/km
BIK rate (2014-15/2015-16): 0/5%
Engine: Electric motor
Economy (combined): 0g/km
Power: 298bhp
0-62mph: 5.9sec

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The e-tron will do up to 30 miles on pure electric alone (it’ll take around three to four hours for a full charge), before the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol motor kicks in to get you as far as you need to go. It’s also surprisingly fast, whichever engine you’re running on. In essence, it’s got all the benefits of the standard five-door A3, only it’s much cheaper for tax and fuel, quieter on the road, and has all the comforts you could want – including an automatic gearbox as standard. Unlike the PHEV, the A3 should be reasonably economical even when relying on its petrol motor. At £58 per month BIK tax, it’s hard to argue against.

Fact file:
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Price OTR/P11D: £29,950*/£34,895
CO2: 37g/km
BIK rate (2014-15/2015-16): 5/5%
Engine: 1.4-litre, 4cyl, turbo’d petrol, plus plug-in electric motor
Economy (combined): 176.6mpg
Power: 201bhp
0-62mph: 7.6sec

Which to choose?

 

For most company car users with high aspirations, the BMW 520d will do it all and then some. It’s a joy to drive, practical to live with and affordable. For anyone who wants alternative power, we’d look to the Audi A3 e-tron first. But whatever you choose, don’t assume you have limited options as a company car user – these days that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Read part one of our company car guide, which covers diesel vehicles, here.