Handsome, good to drive and with unrivalled go-anywhere capability, the recently refreshed Discovery Sport remains one of our favourite compact SUVs. Its appeal has only been enhanced by the addition of a plug-in hybrid option, its combination of 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, a rear-mounted electric motor and a 15kWh battery making it a surprisingly cost-effective company car.
Its 12% BIK rate isn’t as low as some rivals’, but business users will be paying half as much in tax as for a front-wheel-drive diesel version. The Urban Edition is the cheapest, but for the sake of £90, we would plump for the luxuriously appointed R-Dynamic HSE.
Few badges carry as much cache in the corporate car park as the three-pointed star. Better still, opt for the plug-in hybrid version of the latest C-Class and you will pay less in company tax than you would on a petrol supermini. Capable of an extremely impressive 62 miles in electric-only mode, the petrol-electric C-Class attracts a BIK rate of just 8%, making the AMG Line trim a £1556 salary sacrifice for a higher-rate earner.
The rival BMW 3 Series is more engaging to drive, but the C-Class is more comfortable, with a classier interior. And its 2.0-litre petrol and electric motor combine to deliver a compelling blend of muscle and refinement, plus that unrivalled EV-only range.
Peugeot 508 PSE
The car credited with reminding us that Peugeot still knows a thing or two about ride and handling, the 508 PSE has been something of a revelation. Serving up that deliciously fluid feel on the road that used to be French-car calling card, the 355bhp 508 PSE is fast and fun yet soaks away bumps with limousine levels of comfort.
Is it worth north of £50,000, though? As a private purchase, it’s a tough ask, but as a company car, its 42g/km emissions and 26-mile electric-only range land it in the 14% BIK tax bracket, meaning higher rate earners will pay up just over £1500 less in tax than for a 128bhp 1.2-litre petrol GT Premium model. There’s definitely a business case that can be made for that.
Skoda Superb iV SE Technology
The plug-in hybrid Superb may be a very sensible choice for business users wanting to save a few quid on their salary sacrifice, but there’s more to the Skoda than a vast interior, a big boot and a small tax bill. That said, thanks to its 1.4-litre petrol and electric motor, the Czech fastback emits just 23g/km and falls into the 12% BIK band, meaning a lower-rate taxpayer will fork out just £895, which isn’t very much at all.
Yet the Superb iV is also good to drive, with crisp handling and a controlled ride, and with 215 electrically assisted horsepower on tap, it’s no slouch. You’re never going to get up early just to take it for a blast, but there’s enough dynamic appeal that you might take the long way home from the office.
Toyota RAV4 PHEV and Suzuki Across
We’ve bundled this pair of plug-in hybrid SUVs together because, well, they’re essentially the same car. A large 18.1kWh battery means a claimed 46 miles of EV running, CO2 emissions of 22g/km and a very attractive BIK tax rating of 8%. It’s not the most exciting to drive, but it’s precise, composed and, crucially, very comfy. It also goes well, dusting the 0-62mph dash in just 6.0sec, so you can say sayonara to the hot hatch brigade.
When it comes down to brass tacks, however, the less costly RAV4 Design gets the nod, with lower-rate earners sacrificing just £705 in tax, a saving of £40 over the equivalent Across.
Toyota Corolla 2.0 VVT-i Icon
Once a byword for the car as a dull domestic appliance, the Corolla is now a rather fine thing. Good looking and underpinned by Toyota’s latest TNGA platform, it serves up a sweet ride-and-handling balance that means you won’t actively be avoiding corners. There’s a hatchback (our preference), a saloon and a Touring Sports estate bodystyles to choose from, all powered by Toyota’s ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, which works well once you’ve mastered the quirks of the CVT gearbox.