The importance of the company car market can be seen in the range of new ‘business edition’ models being offered.
These cars offer more equipment for little or no price increase, making them more attractive to user choosers as they help to keep benefit-in-kind tax bills down. Both Ford and Volkswagen offer special versions of their upper-medium estates to appeal to company car drivers, but which is best?
Check out our twin test of the Ford Mondeo Zetec Business Edition estate and the Volkswagen Passat Highline estate below to find out who came out on top.
Performance and handling
Both models are powered by 2.0-litre turbodiesel engines delivering 140bhp – about the average for the class and blending acceptable performance with decent real-world economy. Thanks to the torque of a diesel the mid-range performance on both models is strong, yet on the motorway both will settle into a refined low-rev 70mph cruise. Away from dual carriageways the Mondeo has the better chassis and is more fun to drive on twisty roads
Interior and equipment
Both cars are large family estates, but the Volkswagen has the edge in design – its interior is far more cohesive and uncluttered, while the materials used look and feel better than those in the Ford. The Passat also trumps the Mondeo on standard equipment, with larger 17-inch wheels, DAB radio, parking sensors and satellite navigation all fitted as standard (all optional on the Ford).
The Volkswagen has the edge in practicality terms, having the largest boot of the two – 603 litres with the rear seats in place compared to 527 in the Mondeo. With the seats folded down, the Passat can accommodate 1,731 litres of luggage while the Mondeo is slightly behind on 1,728. Both offer a 70-litre fuel tank, while the Mondeo has a higher towing capability (1.8 tonnes vs 1.4 tonnes). The Ford has fixed 12,500-mile service intervals while the Passat’s are variable, determined by the on-board computer.
At the front end the Mondeo has a significant advantage, undercutting the Passat on P11D price by around £2,000 (£22,390 vs £24,565). However, the Passat claws back some of this defecit after three years and 60,000 miles because it is worth more as a used car - £8,125 vs £7,325 according to CAP. In fuel terms, both return an identical claimed 61.4mpg but in SMR (service, maintenance and repair) terms, the Passat has a slight advantage (£2,442 vs £2,700). Total running costs (depreciation, fuel and SMR) are 40.1 pence per mile (ppm) for the Mondeo and 41.9ppm for the Passat.
For a 20% tax-payer, the Mondeo is the cheapest in company car tax terms with a monthly liability of £70.90 – the Passat costs £77.75 a month.
In pure financial terms the Mondeo is the winner with lower running costs and cheaper tax bills. However, the Passat offers more space inside, has a better interior and more equipment. For a company car driver spending a lot of miles behind the wheel, the Passat is the better bet.