Great British BIK Off: small SUVs and crossovers

  • Great British BIK Off: Small SUVs come under scrutiny
  • Small and tall cars with low monthly benefit-in-kind payments
  • Which SUV has the best comfort and performance for the price?

They're on-trend and everywhere - the top 10 cars sold in the UK may still be dominated by hatchbacks (SMMT figures for 2018 so far are below), but due to the diverse range of manufacturers producing SUVs it seems company car parks and roads alike are filled with the upright, rugged lifestyle vehicles.

Can you get an SUV for under £100/month BIK cost?

Of note, the Nissan Qashqai is a consistent top three seller and for many, defined the breed of British SUV. Like many mainstream SUVs, there are models available with low cost and low emissions; front-wheel drive and relatively low equipment levels keep the cost and emissions down. However, elsewhere in the market there are options for 4x4 and more premium or sporty equipment too.

Much of the Qashqai's appeal to fleet managers comes from the low running costs and discounted list prices which aren't reflected in the P11D.

UK sales figures, 2018 year-to-date
1 Ford Fiesta 32,808
2 Volkswagen Golf 21,203
3 Nissan Qashqai 16,914
4 Ford Focus 15,560
5 Vauxhall Corsa 15,352
6 Ford Kuga 13,096
7 Mercedes-Benz A-Class 12,213
8 MINI 11,724
9 Vauxhall Mokka X 10,885
10 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 10,832

Benefit-in-kind is driven not only by emissions, but the P11D value of the car - including any fitted options - which is also a significant factor; we’re looking at the cost to you if these cars are available on your firm’s company car scheme and you are only liable for BIK.

Plug-in, hybrid or electric SUVs?

Current BIK banding has removed the financial incentives encouraging alternative fuels until 2020, when advantageous rates will apply to plug-in hybrids with reasonable EV-only ranges. There are few alternative fuel options for small SUVs at the lower end of the market as it is, though the level of choice is expanding regardless of British taxation policy.

If you’re considering an electric car, or any car producing under 50g/km and capable of EV-only driving, bear in mind the rates may well reduce if you are still in that vehicle after April 2020.

Figures given are for a 20% taxpayer in England & Wales (Scottish rates of income tax differ slightly). Chances are, if you’re being offered a company vehicle with a high BIK charge you’re in the 40% band.

GBBO: The best all-rounder - exceptional value for £83/month BIK

Skoda Karoq 1.0 TSI SE Technology

Setting the pace, unless you want extremes of size, cost or capability, the Karoq is the perfect company car SUV. Working around the limitations of P11D value versus discounting, the SE Technology is not included in many dealer promotions; rather, it includes popular options chosen by company car drivers without increasing the list price. Parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, 8.0-inch infotainment with sat-nav and Apple CarPlay support are all included.

It's a handsome car, too, with great ride and handling, decent interior quality and the latest technology.

GBBO: The cheap one - sporty low cost SUV for under £55/month BIK

MG ZS 1.5 VTI-tech 106PS Explore

It's compromised, for sure - MG's latest entry for the UK market goes for the cost jugular with a rather low-rent interior under some nice styling and details, and the 26% BIK for 2018/2019 would send many company car drivers running - if it weren't for the low list price.

Higher budgets take the competitive edge from the ZS, but the entry level 1.5 Explore has a P11D of just £12,280, giving a monthly BIK cost of £53.25 for 2018/19. If you must have SUV looks - and despite the cuts made elsewhere, the ZS carries plenty of contemporary curves and highlights - on the tighest budget, it's worth seeing if the dated ride and handling and rather crude engine are to your taste. MG have given the ZS a seven-year warranty, which may tempt companies with a longer ownership term.

Technically the 1.0 three-cylinder, six-speed automatic model is far better, but the emissions and P11D place it in competition with models from SEAT and Skoda - where even the most ardent MG enthusiast would struggle to make a case for the ZS. Keep it basic, keep it simple, keep costs low.

The most obvious challenger is the front-wheel drive Dacia Duster, which costs £51.25/month BIK in 125hp 1.2 TCe Nav+ specification; the styling is a little less adventurous, but it's a more rational choice.

GBBO: The small one - up-to-date style and tech for £64/month

SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI SE

A low list price and low emissions puts one of the newest models well ahead for company car drivers. The Arona is fresh, well equipped and handles well; it's one of the most likeable small SUVs available currently.

Novelty may mean fleet discounts are less compelling, but if the Arona is on your list of available cars, there's very little in the segment that can touch it for involvement and driveway appeal.

GBBO: The capable one - all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid for under £100/month BIK

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4h - £80/month

It's likely to feature a lot in our lists, because impressive features and emissions of just 46g/km keep the Outlander PHEV in the lowest band until 2020, at 13% rising to 16% before dropping to 8% when EV range is considered for BIK percentage.

A P11D value of £37,000 gives a 20% taxpayer a liability of £1,184 at most, or £98.66/month for 2019/20, reduced to £49.33/month in April 2020.

This capable SUV has plenty of space for people and luggage, on-demand all-wheel drive, and an EV range of up to 33 miles. It is simply one of the best value SUVs available for company car drivers.

GBBO: The popular one - basic Qashqai costs £83/month BIK

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110ps Visia

Setting the benchmark for the class, Nissan's Qashqai has been heavily updated and the latest version remains competitive; the 1.5-litre diesel manages to stay below £90/month despite the 4% penality applied to all currently available diesels. Specification of the Visia lags behind the convenience features in the SEAT and Skoda, however, and the Qashqai's ubiquity in the UK won't suit those looking to make an impact with clients.

We've included it here primarily to show just how much progress has been made in terms of technology and value across the SUV sector.

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