- Our top-rated medium-sized hatchbacks revealed
- Which gets your vote if you take the cash allowance?
- Key information if you drive your own car for business included
Although getting a company car can be seen as a great perk, it’s not always the best option for you - especially if you have a car already on a PCP deal.
It can also be pretty restrictive when it comes to choice, and taking the cash sum instead may help with your monthly finances more than getting the car - the allowance will be subject to tax, like your salary, so it's easy enough to budget for.
Lots of people who opt to take the cash over the company car decide to put the extra money towards financing a new car, either through PCP or HP deals or by taking out a loan.
With no restrictions on choice or CO2, when it comes to choosing your next car, the world is literally your oyster as long as you can afford to fuel it too.
Deciding on which car is best for you, although exciting, can be pretty daunting too. To help you decide on your next new car, we’ve put together our top five medium hatchbacks.
The only medium-sized hatch to receive the full five stars from us, we think the Volkswagen Golf is as close to the full package as you’re going to get in this segment offering excellent practicality, a comfortable ride, impressive equipment levels and, depending on the model you choose, a very exciting drive too.
Now in its seventh generation, there’s a variety of different models in the range to suit most people's needs.
If you have a large commute then the Golf GTD is an ideal choice as it offers a good balance between performance and efficiency. Want the ultimate in driving fun? Then the GTI is the one to go for (if your allowance stretches that far) or if economy and saving money is at the top of your agenda then the BlueMotion offers impressive headline figures.
Boot space beats most of its rivals too at 380 litres, and even in entry-level trim there is a wealth of kit available as standard including a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen system, DAB radio, Bluetooth, semi-automatic air con and eight speakers.
Price range: £17,175 - £33,035
Parkers star rating: 5 stars
Audi A3 Sportback
The A3 Sportback (five-door model) is one of the most popular choices for retail buyers and company car drivers alike as it offers a good mix between functionality, driving fun, comfort and that four-ringed badge status.
For us, the A3 is at its best in Sportback form and comes with a wide range of engines to choose from including a powerful 177bhp 1.8-litre petrol engine, an economical 1.6-litre diesel and a new 1.4-litre petrol which features the latest fuel-saving technology such as Cylinder-on-Demand (CoD), which shuts down two of the car's four cylinders when not required, saving a lot of petrol. For those interested in exploring hybrid technology, the e-tron model joined the range last year too.
There are four main trim levels to choose from and standard kit even in entry-level SE is very good with 16-inch alloy wheels, air-con, leather steering wheel, DAB Radio, Bluetooth and a 5.8 inch colour display screen included.
Price range: £19,235 - £35,340
Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars
A car that can often be overshadowed by German rivals, the SEAT Leon has a lot going for it, it’s also one of the cheapest in our list.
Its range is not as expansive as the A3 or Golf, but there are plenty of options engine wise that should satisfy most with a frugal sub-100g/km Ecomotive version and a high performance 1.8-litre 177bhp petrol among the highlights.
It’s arguably the best looking of our list too with its sporty curves and distinctive front end and when it comes to equipment, the Leon shines. Available in a choice of three trims, entry-level S trim comes with a five-inch colour touchscreen, USB port, Bluetooth, six-speakers, air-con, comfort suspension and a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard.
At the moment you can also get a free technology pack on all new Leons, which includes full LED headlights, sat-nav and DAB radio.
Price range: £16,115 - £25,245
Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars
BMW 1 Series
The words 'BMW' and 'company car' go together like bread and butter, fish and chips and Ant and Dec. One of the big heavyweights in the premium sector, an updated version of the 1 Series has just gone on sale, introducing some impressive revisions to the engine-line up resulting in a reduction of up to 12 percent in fuel consumption.
Key for company car drivers will be the new 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model which offers an impressive 83.1mpg with CO2 emissions of just 89g/km, but if you fancy something a little more powerful, there are plenty of options in the range including the M135 with 322bhp.
Standard kit includes air-con, a leather steering wheel, a 6.5-inch flat screen monitor and iDrive controller, rain sensor wipers, automatic lights, DAB radio, Bluetooth and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Price range: £20,245 - £33,220
Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars
Over 12 million Focuses have made their way to homes around the world since it was first introduced in 1998 and it’s easy to see why it's so popular; the Focus offers one of the best all-round packages that money can buy.
Like the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Audi S3, Ford has ST or the super-hot RS models - coming soon - to satisfy the petrol-heads among us (if your allowance will stretch that far) and there’s the award-winning EcoBoost engines for those looking for low running costs plus a range of engines that satisfy the best of both worlds.
Facelifted only last year, there’s a range of new kit on the Focus too including a new centre console featuring the next-generation SYNC2 multimedia system. The new family grille dominates the front end of the car helping the Focus to be more distinctive than before.
Price range: £13,995 - £26,135
Parkers star rating: 4
A couple of extra notes
It’s important to bear in mind that if you plan to use your own car to travel for work, you should check your 'driving at work' handbook because some companies may have a car age limit or CO2 cap if you wish to travel for business.
Travelling on business miles are subject to AMAP rates which are higher than AFR rates which we use for company cars. This is because AMAP rates take depreciation, road tax and insurance into account.
Don’t forget that your insurance also needs to have cover for business use and you need to keep up to date with MOT tests and regular servicing.
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