These days, companies run fleets of cars of different shapes and sizes. Many employees do most of their work miles in and around town, which is when a smaller car is ideal.
If you’re doing only a few thousand miles a year, and want to keep benefit-in-kind tax bills down to a minimum, petrol power may be a better bet, assuming your fleet manager will allow you to choose.
This is because, until 2016, company car drivers will continue to have to pay 3% more BIK tax on a diesel car than on a petrol, while diesels often have a higher list price in the first place, which will also affect monthly bills.
The BMW i3 isn’t the cheapest car to buy, but as a company car it will be appealing on the basis of its low emissions and benefit-in-kind taxation. Despite costing significantly more than the Fiesta to buy, the range extender emits just 13g/km of CO2 and qualifies for the 5% tax band. As a result, it costs less than a pound a month more in BIK than the Fiesta Ecoboost.
The i3 will appeal to many businesses on the basis of its green credentials, but it will also appeal to drivers. It’s incredibly refined and quiet on the road, has a fantastically smart cabin and comes with an impressive level of standard equipment.
The range extender version might add a few thousand onto the purchase price, but the ability to travel farther on petrol power might appeal in a corporate vehicle.
Pick of the range: EV Range Extender
The Ford Fiesta regularly tops the best-seller lists, and anyone that ends up with one as a company vehicle should be pleased with their lot, whether they have picked it personally or not.
The primary reason for the Fiesta scoring the full five stars in our review is its ride and handling - it not only soaks up bumps wonderfully, but is entertaining to drive.
We would certainly steer away from the diesel version, because the Ecoboost petrol engine emits less than 100g/km of CO2, whether you go for the 123bhp or the 99bhp version. This means it fits into the 12% bracket for company car tax. The downside of this engine, however, is its real-world economy. Our True MPG tests show that you should expect around 46.2mpg from the higher-powered version, which is well down on the Government figure of 65.7mpg.
Pick of the range: 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Zetec
The Hyundai i10 is our 2014 City Car of the Year, and it is the quietest and most practical car among its similarly priced and sized rivals.
TheBlueDrive version of the 1.0-litre petrol engine brings emissions down to 98g/km. If work requires a more mixed range of motorway and town driving, the 1.2-litre engine will be the better bet.
Pick of the range: 1.2 Premium
The new Mini hatchback is our pick of the premium superminis, and has one of the best cabins of the cars of this size.
Its other strengths will appeal to all manner of people involved with running a company car fleet, though, as it has a selection of engines that are affordable to run, and it will hold on to its value really well.
The engines in the Cooper and the One both emit much the same in terms of CO2, at 105g/km and 108g/km respectively. Of the two, the One edges it as a company car, because of its lower list price and the BIK savings that brings.
Pick of the range: Mini One
If your fleet manager insists on everyone running diesels, even in small cars, then the Renault Clio is our pick.
The 1.5dCi 90 engine is smooth and strong, and should keep running costs low, thanks to a 90g/km CO2 rating and a claimed average economy of 83.1mpg. Our real-world tests tell a different story, with a still-encouraging 60.1mpg.
Pick of the range: 1.5 dCi 90 Dynamique Media Nav
Seat Mii/Skoda Citigo/Volkswagen Up
The Volkswagen Up really moved the game on in the city car class by upping the levels of quality. The Skoda Citigo and Seat Mii are very similar cars, but with each company’s slight variations in the cabin.
In all three cases we would avoid the entry-level trim and look at the mid-range options and above. Also, we’d avoid the lower-powered engine and go for the more powerful, 74bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine, as it is best suited to occasional trips on motorways. Companies wanting to keep their tax bills down may want to consider the Bluemotion Technology/Greentech/Ecomotive versions, which drop emissions to 98g/km of CO2.
Pick of the range: 1.0-litre 74bhp engine with Bluemotion Technology/Greentech/Ecomotive fuel-saving technology
The Polo has recently been face-lifted, and the changes have brought a much classier cabin with a best-in-class infotainment system. The upgraded system makes employees’ lives that bit easier and more stress-free.
Although the Polo comes with a selection of small petrol engines, none slot below the 100g/km mark for CO2. We’d avoid the small, but smooth 1.0-litre engines (which are the same ones as in the smaller VW Up) and head for the 1.2-litre petrol, which emits 107g/km, so will keep BIK bills low.
If you are doing lots of motorway miles, then the 88g/km of the 1.4-litre diesel will be one of the most appealing versions on this list - it has the lowest emissions rating of the conventionally powered cars here.
Pick of the range: 1.2 TSI 90 SE