Hot hatches that balance the BIK books

  • Find out which medium hot hatches make for realistic company cars
  • BIK tax and performance figures for a range of petrol-engined models
  • Our diesel wildcard shouldn’t be discounted either, though… 

Going for a company car doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice driving fun. While admittedly they’re not as cheap to tax or run as common-or-garden diesel models, there are hot hatches out there that might surprise you with their tax bills.

As technology moves on and Government legislation begins to swing back to favouring petrol models, there has never been a better time for keen drivers to explore the merits of a proper hot hatch.

In this article we set out some of our favourites available for reasonable benefit-in-kind bills of up to £120 per month for a 20 percent tax payer*, and also included a premium diesel alternative to prove it’s not quite all over yet for petrol-shy fleet drivers.


Ford Focus ST 1 Hatchback

Focus ST

Why buy?

There’s a very good reason the Ford Focus is one of the UK’s best-selling cars. It’s cheap to run, great to drive and in this ST specification with a 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine it’s also very fast indeed.

While the engine emits a fairly hefty chunk of CO2 per kilometre, it pays you back with a low list price, meaning user-chooser company car drivers aren’t entirely priced out.

Spec highlights include the comfortable Recaro sports seats, Bluetooth, voice control and DAB radio.

P11D price: £22,695

Parkers rating: 4.5 stars

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Top speed: 154mph

CO2 emissions: 159g/km

Benefit-in-kind*: £106

Claimed fuel economy: 41.5mpg

Click here for the full review


Skoda Octavia vRS 230

Why buy?

It comes as no surprise at all to see a Skoda in this list. The firm’s affordable, practical and approachable designs marry well with parts from the Golf GTI underneath to create a fabulous hot hatch with easily the biggest boot of the lot.

This is the top-spec ‘230’ version – the number relating to the engine’s horsepower – so you can expect strong performance and great handling too thanks to the XDS+ electronically controlled differential lock that shuffles torque between the front wheels to provide optimum traction in all situations.

Standard kit includes 19-inch alloys, sports seats, lap timer, heated front seats and parking sensors at both ends of the car.

P11D price: £26,525

Parkers rating: 4.5 stars

0-62mph: 6.7 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

CO2 emissions: 142g/km

Benefit-in-kind*: £110

Claimed fuel economy: 45mpg

Click here for the full review. 


Peugeot 308 250bhp GTi by Peugeotsport

Peugeot 308 GTi

Why buy?

When Peugeotsport – the motorsport wing of Peugeot – gets its mitts on a car it’s fair to assume it’ll be pretty impressive. Both the 208 GTI and RCZ-R benefitted from the racing team’s magic, so it stands to reason the 308 GTI is quite impressive too.

There are two distinct versions of this car, however, and here we’ve picked the lower-powered 250 because while it’s not as fast around a racetrack as the 270 – lacking that version’s aggressive differential, bigger alloys with lower-profile tyres (that are less comfy) and high-performance brakes – but will be far better to live with day-to-day. It costs less to buy, too, so it makes the better all-rounder in this instance.

Equipment on offer includes a 9.7-inch touchscreen, leather and Alcantara sports seats, cruise control and a reversing camera.

P11D price: £26,800

Parkers rating: 4 stars

0-62mph: 6.2 seconds

Top speed: 155mph

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Benefit-in-kind*: £107

Claimed fuel economy: 47.1mpg

Click here for the full review. 


Volkswagen Golf GTI

Why buy?

The Golf GTI is easily the best-known of all the cars in this list, and it’s fair to say it’s become a household name since it went on sale in 1976.

Now in its seventh incarnation, the recipe includes a flexible and responsive turbocharged 2-litre petrol engine along with the choice of manual or automatic gearboxes; though we’ve picked the former because it costs less while being more engaging to drive.

The equipment on offer isn’t as generous as some rivals, primarily because you do have to pay a little more for a VW badge than you would a Skoda, for example. You get cloth seats, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a gearknob that looks like a golf ball.

P11D price: £28,400

Parkers rating: 5 stars

0-62mph: 6.5 seconds

Top speed: 153mph

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Benefit-in-kind*: £113

Claimed fuel economy: 47.1mpg

Click here for the full review. 


Still fancy a diesel? How about:

BMW 1 Series Hatchback 120d M Sport auto

BMW 1 Series

Why buy?

While it’s not a hot hatch per se, the 1 Series is one of the best drivers’ cars in the medium hatch sector. That’s mainly because the majority of versions are rear-wheel drive, leaving the front wheels only taking care of the steering for a more uncorrupted driving experience. It’s a configuration usually seen on sports cars rather than normal hatchbacks.

BMW is also responsible for some of the better diesel engines and automatic gearboxes – here you get both with a 2-litre coupled with an eight-speed – and in M Sport specification (top-of-the-range, in other words) there’s a huge amount of standard kit including a bodykit, sports suspension, LED headlights and performance-focused touches for the cabin.

We might not be able to get the more brilliant performance-oriented M135i model in this budget, but with the 120d M Sport we can enjoy the extra fuel economy of a diesel without sacrificing much in the way of driving fun.

P11D price: £29,185

Parkers rating: 4.5 stars

0-62mph: 7.1 seconds

Top speed: 142mph

CO2 emissions: 114g/km

Benefit-in-kind*: £107

Claimed fuel economy: 65.7mpg

Click here for the full review

*BIK is quoted at 2016/17 rates on the 20 percent pay scale and assumes no optional extras.

Do you need more assistance picking your next company car? Perhaps the following articles will be of assistance:

Top low-tax diesel company cars 

Top cars for commuting 

Petrol vs diesel – performance vs economy 

Cars under £50 per month to tax 

Your complete guide to BIK tax