Top five low-tax winter estates

  • We’ve picked our favourite estates that can handle the winter months
  • You don’t need to own a 4x4 to be prepared for harsher weather
  • Engine, trim choice and tax costs all explained

Once upon a time, a 4x4 meant a huge and expensive SUV with high running costs – the kind of thing your average employee won’t find on the company car choice lists of today.

It still does mean that to a point, but practical four-wheel drive cars with sensible running costs and the ability to cope with harsher weather do exist – and they don’t have the hefty Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax costs or poor fuel economy of a huge SUV either.

With winter now in full swing, we’ve listed our favourite all-weather estates that you are likely to find on your company car choice list that are perfect for the job, regardless of the conditions.

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack

P11D value: £29,185 (2.0 TDI 140 Bluemotion 4Motion)

The Volkswagen Passat’s business-like manner, spacious cabin and punchy but efficient engines have made it a constant in company car parks for decades.

The Alltrack model, which is available exclusively as an estate, beefs things up with a raised ride height, protective cladding around the wheel arches and bumpers and VW’s 4Motion four-wheel drive system, so it’s handy off-road or in tough conditions. It also has an extremely spacious 603-litre boot.

It comes with a 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine with either 138bhp or 175bhp (the latter is mated to the company’s DSG automatic transmission), so there’s plenty of pulling power and it’s great for towing, with a capacity of 2,200kg.

Emissions of 149g/km and 155g/km mean you’re looking at a 25 percent or 27 percent tax band and either £122* or £144* a month in BIK if you’re a 20 percent taxpayer, while fuel economy is respectable for a heavy 4x4 estate at 49.6mpg or 47.9mpg.

Skoda Octavia Scout

P11D value: £25,260 (2.0 TDI CR)

Similar in concept to the Passat Alltrack above, the Skoda Octavia Scout estate has lower emissions and better fuel economy than the Volkswagen – along with a more affordable P11D value.

The standard Octavia is a great all-round company car and the rugged Scout version (again, only offered in estate form) is fit for winter and off-roading courtesy of four-wheel drive, a 33mm higher ride height and a system that balances power between the wheels when things get slippery. It also has chunky plastic wheel arches and bumpers, as well as a humungous 610-litre boot.

It too is available with a solitary 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine in two power outputs – 148bhp or 181bhp – and the more powerful variant gets a DSG automatic gearbox. Despite the power difference, both versions return 55.4mpg, while the 148bhp model emits 129g/km and the other 134g/km, which means BIK costs of £88* or £102* a month for a 20 percent tax payer. The manual version can tow 2,000kg, while the automatic can handle 1,800kg.

BMW 3 Series Touring xDrive

P11D value: £31,520 (320d Touring xDrive SE)

The 3 Series is the model to have if you’re a company car driver. It has consistently won the corporate crowd over with its excellent handling, upmarket image and frugal but powerful engines. BMW saloons and estates have traditionally been rear-wheel drive, which is part of their appeal to keen drivers, but it’s not much good when the weather turns. The xDrive four-wheel drive models (which can be had as both saloons and estates) solve that quandary though, and for a small CO2 and fuel economy penalty you can have 3 Series Touring fit for winter.

The best-selling SE version returns 55.4mpg and emits 133g/km, which is still economical and means a BIK band of 22 percent and £116* per month for a 20 percent tax payer. The 3 Series Touring’s 495-litre boot isn’t the largest around but the cabin is extremely well built and it’s capable of towing 1,600kgs behind it.

Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer

P11D value: £26,919 (2.0 CDTi 163 4x4 auto)

The Vauxhall Insignia is well and truly geared towards company car drivers and consequently it sells into the fleet market like hot cakes. The Country Tourer is the more rugged version and is based on the Sports Tourer estate. It sits 20mm higher than the standard car and has protective cladding around the lower parts of the body and beneath the engine compartment.

Some models are front-wheel drive but four-wheel drive versions are available with the 2.0 CDTi 163 and the 195 BiTurbo models. The latter is very powerful but the former is more appropriate for company car drivers, as it will do 45.6mpg and its emissions are lower at 165g/km, which leaves it in BIK band 29 and means £130* a month in tax. The boot is a respectable 540-litres too and the Country Tourer can tow up to 2,000kg.

Audi A4 Allroad

P11D value: £32,445 (2.0 TDI quattro)

Arguably the most desirable estate of our selection is the Audi A4 Allroad, not least because of its superb build quality and the cachet of the Audi badge. It uses the company’s quattro four-wheel drive system, which gives it loads of grip and the interior is the same as the standard A4’s. The boot is the smallest of our selection at 490-litres though, but that’s still a lot larger than your average family hatchback.

There’s a good choice of engines with the A4, including a 2.0-litre petrol for lower mileage drivers and a powerful 3.0-litre diesel, but it’s the 2.0 TDI diesel that’s the best one for company car drivers, as it’s good for 48.7mpg and 153g/km. That puts it in the 26 percent BIK band and drums up £141* a month in tax and it can tow up to 1,970kgs.  

Need more information? Check out some of our other useful articles and features below to help you decide on your next company car.

Parkers top five company cars for 2015

Low-tax company cars for family life

Fast low-tax company cars

* All monthly tax costs are based on the 2014/15 tax year