Doctor Diesel

Choosing for cruising

Web01Dear Doctor, I have always preferred to run my own cars, but I am soon likely to be forced to go down the company car route. I’ve been listening to some of the moans from other company car users though, many of whom complain that their supposedly sub 99g/km cars (equivalent to around 75mpg) are barely managing to record over 50mpg. In some cases, I’m sure that this is quite clearly down to the driver’s driving style, but even other more economy-minded drivers are only getting about 58mpg, which is only marginally better than my elderly 1.7 Corsa.

If I am driven down the company car route, then the company only permits a choice of Volkswagen Group, BMW, and Toyota cars. After the havoc of the recent snowy winters, all of the BMW drivers who I have spoken to seem to be moving over to front-wheel-drive makes. So I’m effectively left with a choice between Volkswagen Group or Toyota. I do quite a lot of high speed motorway driving, so I would gather that a hybrid isn’t a good option, which is a shame, because they would be great around town.

I know that the Skoda Rapid got great reviews from you, and 56mpg is reasonable economy. However, I like to drive diesels mostly because I’m a bit of a greenie and I am wondering if a 1.2 TDI would be a better option? What is your off-the-record opinion from Diesel Car? Is the Skoda Fabia GreenLine II 1.2 TDI a good option, for someone who will be living on the motorway and occasionally has to carry quite a lot of stuff in the boot?
David Price

You don’t mention what sort of budget applies to a possible company car David, but if you do a lot of high speed motorway driving you need an appropriate car, which would not be a 1.2 TDI or 1.4 TDI. You would be far better off in a car with a bigger engine that’s not too stressed, but still economical, and I’ll mention a few cars that come easily to mind. Your employers need to give you something decent if you’re driving hard and long hours, and I’ll happily pen a few words to them if they try and fob you off with a small hatchback.

Of course you have company car tax to pay that is based on the car’s carbon dioxide emissions, I do realise, and that will inevitably have some influence on what you choose. Firstly, the Skoda Rapid, good value though it may be, is an over-sized Polo underneath, and rather lacking in chassis sophistication. You deserve something better, and an Octavia 1.6 TDI would be a far better choice for your work. So maybe a SEAT Leon ST, or a Golf Estate, with the same 1.6 TDI engine, both of which are offered with low tax sub-90g/km variants (Ecomotive/BlueMotion) might suit you? If the budget handles it, the 2.0-litre TDI engine would give you a bit more flexibility and use very little extra fuel, but of course cost you more in personal tax. These latest generation of Volkswagen Group medium size cars based on the new modular body frame are excellent cars and drive with the class and comfort that used to only come with bigger vehicles.

With all due respect to Toyota, I would steer clear of the Auris and Avensis, although the Verso is worth a look, if it appeals on account of its practicality, but it’s not that quick, or that economical. I hope these suggestions appeal. I’m something of a SEAT fan, and they are great value for money, and very well engineered, so take a look at the Leon ST estate if you can!

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