We wouldn’t recommend any of these plug-in hybrids over their diesel equivalents for most buyers. Between the poor economy when the batteries are flat and high prices – a comparable diesel Volvo XC90 costs £15,000 less, for example – it’s hard to make a case for them on pace and refinement alone. However, there is demand for these cars, particularly among business users, and if you are set on one we’d point you towards the Volvo.
If you’re a company car buyer and can persuade your boss to fork out for the XC90 T8, it’s a relaxed cruiser that’s also shockingly rapid when you want it to be. However, it will cost about the same in BIK tax each month as a Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi N-Connecta. On top of that, it offers seven-seat practicality and generous kit. It’s just a shame contract hire rates are so high, and that we can’t yet comment on whether standard suspension is more comfortable. We can say that you should avoid the optional 22in alloys.
The BMW X5 comes a close second. It’s comparatively cheap to lease and the most refined here. Sure, its interior is a little less stylish than its rivals’, but it feels as solidly put together as the others, and has the finest infotainment system. There are reasons why you’d opt for the X5 – even over the XC90.
The same can’t be said for the Cayenne. It handles better than the others, but it’s the most expensive, is poorly equipped, is the least comfortable and the least roomy. That Porsche badge brings want-one appeal, but it doesn’t make up for the car’s shortcomings.
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1st – Volvo XC90
For Performance; cheap company car tax; classy and practical interior; loads of standard kit
Against High lease costs; inconsistent power delivery
Verdict The best option for business users who want a fast, practical, high-end SUV on the cheap
2nd – BMW X5
For Quiet at low speeds; leasing costs; infotainment
Against Steering; so-so interior; grabby brakes
Verdict Cheapest to lease and decent to drive
3rd – Porsche Cayenne
For Most engaging handling; kerbside kudos
Against Poorly equipped; firm ride; most expensive
Verdict Hard to recommend in this company
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