Low tax, high grip: Top 10 winter-friendly 4x4 company cars

  • Low-emission, frugal SUVs rated for company car drivers
  • All of these 4x4s cost less than £120 per month in tax
  • Which of these SUVs could be on your snow-covered drive?

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening, in the lane, snow is glistening” – those Christmassy jingles have been playing on the radio for weeks now but finally we’re at winter’s cusp.

Not that many of the nation’s lanes have yet experienced a white deluge but that won’t stop the seasonal swell of company car drivers considering an SUV with four-wheel drive as their next set of business wheels.

Those go-anywhere vehicles can prove costly to run, which is where Parkers comes in.

We’ve ploughed through the plethora of possibilities to bring you our Top 10 pick of 4x4s that won’t cost the earth during the festivities’ excesses.

All of our choices have four-wheel drive, diesel engines for improved economy, CO2 emissions of no more than 135g/km and a claimed average fuel consumption in excess of 50mpg. What’s more, they’ll cost a company car driver in the 20 percent tax band no more than £120 per month.

Could one of these SUVs be parked on your snow-covered driveway this winter?

Fiat 500X (15 on)

Despite styling that suggests otherwise, the Fiat 500X shares few components with the omnipresent 500 city car.

Chicness is ditched in favour of ruggedness, especially on the range-topping Cross Plus trim we’ve chosen. It looks tough and rightly so because the 500X is surprisingly capable off-road, thanks to a 4x4 system developed in conjunction with the Fiat-owned Jeep brand.

As standard the 500X Cross Plus comes with an advanced traction control system to enhance low-speed grip, rear privacy glass, 18-inch alloy wheels, high-intensity headlamps for superior illumination and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for the infotainment and sat-nav package.

Fitted with a 2-litre MultiJet engine producing 138bhp and 350Nm of torque, the 500X is capable of 118mph and a sprint from a standstill to 60mph in 9.2 seconds, yet still returns a claimed 57mpg.

Parkers star rating: 4 stars

Parkers pick of the range: 500X 2.0 MultiJet Cross Plus 4x4

P11D value: £23,790

BIK band: 24 percent

Monthly cost*: £95

Fuel efficiency: 57mpg

Boot space: 350-1,000 litres

Ford Kuga (12 on)

Think of the Ford Kuga as a Focus wearing SUV clothing and you’re not far from reality.

In terms of on-road driving characteristics the Kuga’s one of the best there is and off-road, with four-wheel drive, it’s a capable performer too, although it will struggle with tougher terrain.

Its 178bhp 2-litre engine produces 400Nm of torque helping it get out of sticky situations, as well as delivering an on-asphalt 0-60mph time of 8.9 seconds.

Efficiency doesn’t suffer as a consequence: average diesel consumption is a claimed 54mpg while 135g/km of CO2 emissions means a 20 percent rate payer will have a monthly bill of £110 for a mid-range Titanium specification Kuga.

Choosing Titanium nets you dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, part-leather upholstery and torque on demand to send the engine’s accelerative power to the front or rear wheels depending on which will deliver the best traction.

Parkers star rating: 4 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Kuga 2.0 TDCi 180PS Titanium 4WD

P11D value: £26,410

BIK band: 25 percent

Monthly cost*: £110

Fuel efficiency: 54mpg

Boot space: 456-1,603 litres

Land Rover Discovery Sport (15 on)

Replacing the ageing Freelander 2 earlier in 2015, the Land Rover Discovery Sport combines the firm’s renowned four-wheel drive prowess with a new, athletic design language hitherto unseen beyond the Range Rover line-up.

It’s not an inexpensive car but choosing it in entry-level SE form, with five seats rather than seven, helps keep it within our budget.

You won’t feel too impoverished given the SE’s level of standard kit: part-leather upholstery, a 10-speaker audio system with an eight-inch infotainment touchscreen, an electrically-heated windscreen, cruise control and 18-inch alloys.

Paired with Land Rover’s new 2-litre Ingenium family of engines, the 178bhp unit produces 430Nm of torque, making it responsive and capable on- and off-road.

Fuel efficiency’s quoted at 57mpg but low CO2 emissions of 129g/km slip the Discovery Sport into the 23 percent BIK banding, meaning a monthly cost of £117.

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Discovery Sport 2.0 TD4 SE 5-seater

P11D value: £30,640

BIK band: 23 percent

Monthly cost*: £117

Fuel efficiency: 57mpg

Boot space: 830-1,698 litres

Mazda CX-3 (15 on)

Introduced in 2015, the Mazda CX-3 occupies a segment new to the brand, yet its first attempt at a small crossover is excellent.

Distinctive without being as polarising as rivals such as the Nissan Juke, the CX-3 is a high quality product although that’s reflected in pricing that’s slightly higher than many rivals.

To meet our criteria, only one CX-3 fits the bill: the 1.5-litre Sport Nav with four-wheel drive. It only produces 103bhp and 270Nm of torque but at 1,200kg it’s the second-lightest car here, so it’s adequate enough for decent performance (0-60mph takes 10.2 seconds) and fuel efficiency (a claimed 60mpg). 

Sitting at the pinnacle of the range, Sport Nav trim brings you sat-nav, faux leather upholstery, a Bose sound system, a head-up display so you take your eyes off the road less frequently and keyless entry and start.

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: CX-3 1.5D Sport Nav AWD

P11D value: £23,340

BIK band: 22 percent

Monthly cost*: £86

Fuel efficiency: 60mpg

Boot space: 350-1,260 litres

Nissan Qashqai (14 on)

There’s no escaping the popularity of the Nissan Qashqai – they’re everywhere. While they’ve gained a strong reputation for serving customers an enticing platter of low running costs, high levels of equipment and bulletproof reliability, there are relative rarities like the one we’ve picked here.

With a P11D value of over £29,000 it’s an expensive Qashqai, but it’s fitted with four-wheel drive and all the trinkets associated with the flagship Tekna trim. That means a panoramic glass roof, 19-inch alloys, heated leather seats and an Around View 360-degree camera system are among a plethora of features on the equipment roster.

Under the Nissan’s bonnet is a 1.6-litre engine mustering 128bp and 320Nm of torque. At 10.2 seconds for the 0-60mph sprint it’s not especially quick but it remains an economical choice at 55mpg.

CO2 emissions of 133g/km slot it into the 24 percent BIK band ensuring a 20 percent tax payer will only be charged £117 each month despite this Qashqai’s range-topping status.

Parkers star rating: 5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Qashqai 1.6 dCi Tekna 4WD

P11D value: £29,125

BIK band: 24 percent

Monthly cost*: £117

Fuel efficiency: 55mpg

Boot space: 430-1,585 litres

Renault Kadjar (15 on)

Closely related to the Qashqai is the new Renault Kadjar, the French marque’s second bite at the medium-sized SUV cherry following on from the Koleos.

Where its forebear lacked lustre the Kadjar is excellent, with an interesting design, bold detailing and a high-quality interior.

Offering more space for passengers and luggage than its Nissan relation, the Renault has the same engine, transmission and four-wheel drive system yet is marginally more efficient at a claimed 57mpg.

CO2 emissions of 129g/km are also slightly lower for the Kadjar, which combined with the Signature trim’s more modest P11D value, makes it even more affordable at £101 per month.

Top-of-the-range Signature trim boosts the Kadjar’s specification to include full LED headlights, a panoramic glass roof and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Parkers star rating: 5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Kadjar 1.6 dCi Signature Nav 4WD

P11D value: £26,240

BIK band: 23 percent

Monthly cost*: £101

Fuel efficiency: 57mpg

Boot space: 472-1,478 litres

SEAT Leon X-Perience (14 on)

Not an SUV in the traditional sense, the SEAT Leon X-Perience is more a conventional estate, albeit with some typical all-terrain design cues, hence the elevated ride height, unpainted plastic mouldings and earthy colour schemes. Strip away the detailing and you’re left with a SEAT Leon ST, although the estate’s not available with four-wheel drive in the UK.

We’ve picked it in range-topping guise, such is the value-for-money nature of the package: SE Technology with Lux Pack brings front and rear LED lights, a full leather interior with heated front seats and the ability to toggle between different driving modes to suit the prevailing conditions.

Even with a 181bhp 2-litre engine and six-speed DSG automatic gearbox fitted, the Leon X-Perience is still cost-efficient to run, with claims of 57mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km. 

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Leon X-Perience 2.0 TDI 184PS SE Technology Lux Pack DSG automatic

P11D value: £31,075

BIK band: 23 percent

Monthly cost*: £119

Fuel efficiency: 57mpg

Boot space: 587-1,470 litres

Skoda Yeti (09 on)

Despite being on sale for six years, the Skoda Yeti continues to be a deservedly popular small SUV.

Rugged, distinctive, cleverly practical yet not too weird-looking to put off more conservative consumers, the Yeti’s long been a car Parkers has recommended.

Here the 4x4 system’s paired up with a 148bhp 2-litre unit which, thanks to its relatively modest 1,490kg heft, is enough to propel it up to 121mph and complete the 0-60mph dash in 8.8 seconds.

It’s efficient too, posting a claim of 55mpg with CO2 emissions of 134g/km, or a 24 percent BIK band in company car speak.

We’ve chosen the Yeti in Skoda’s flagship Laurin & Klement specification meaning that for your £104 monthly bill you’ll be spoiled with polished alloy wheels, sat-nav, a heated windscreen, parking sensors and a full leather interior.

Parkers star rating: 5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Yeti Outdoor 2.0 TDI 150PS Laurin & Klement 4x4

P11D value: £25,995

BIK band: 24 percent

Monthly cost*: £104

Fuel efficiency: 55mpg

Boot space: 405-1,760 litres

Suzuki Vitara (15 on)

That the latest Suzuki Vitara is as good as it is should come as no surprise. The Japanese marque has a long-standing history of producing capable SUVs and rugged little off-roaders and much of that understanding’s made it into this small crossover’s DNA.

At just 1,160kg it’s the lightest 4x4 here, meaning its 1.6-litre diesel’s 118bhp and 320Nm of torque can deliver adequate performance – 111mph top speed and a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds – as well as an impressive 67mpg official fuel consumption figure.

CO2 emissions of 111g/km make the Vitara the least-polluting of the Top 10, delivering a BIK band of just 20 percent.

Even in range-topping SZ5 specification, that’s a monthly bill of just £66 – the cheapest here – despite an equipment list including a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, a panoramic glass roof and a leather and faux suede interior.

Parkers star rating: 4 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5 AllGrip

P11D value: £19,944

BIK band: 20 percent

Monthly cost*: £66

Fuel efficiency: 67mpg

Boot space: 375-710 litres

Volkswagen Golf Alltrack (15 on)

If it’s crossed your mind that the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack looks like a sister car to the Leon X-Perience then award yourself a prize - that’s exactly what it is.

The standard VW Golf Estate shell’s been made to look more rugged and SUV-like to create the Alltrack and will appeal to those who need either greater cargo-carrying capacity than its SEAT sibling, or have been lured in by VW’s more premium image.

Mechanically identical to the SEAT we’ve chosen, all things being equal the Alltrack should cost exactly the same to run, but given it’s slightly inferior specification tally and lower P11D value – at £30,540 it’s £535 less than the SEAT – there’s a marginal monthly saving of £2 at £117 per month.

Not that the Golf Alltrack’s poorly equipped: you’ll still benefit from automatic wipers and bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive cruise control, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and seat upholstery specific to the Alltrack.

Parkers star rating: 4.5 stars

Parkers pick of the range: Golf Alltrack 2.0 TDI 184PS DSG automatic

P11D value: £30,540

BIK band: 23 percent

Monthly cost*: £117

Fuel efficiency: 57mpg

Boot space: 605-1,620 litres

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