By Tim RoseThis car has to be the saviour of the Lexus UK retail network. It has put the brand back on the road to five figure annual registrations, and finally offered eco-minded business motorists an affordable, hybrid executive hatchback. While it doesn't match the miles per gallon of modern low emissions diesel rivals, its low CO2 petrol-electric hybrid ensures company car user-choosers benefit from the lowest 10% rate of benefit-in-kind tax, zero-cost VED plus lower prices fill-ups at the pump. In addition, due to its 94g/km emissions, businesses buying the car can claim a 100% write-down capital allowance, making it financially attractive.Being seen to be green doesn't mean the CT200h skimps on executive toys. This F-Sport derivative gets sports suspension and bodystyling, leather upholstery, 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth. Our test car also came with the £1,850 optional full map navigation pack, which includes a CD-changer and reversing camera. It's a worthwhile investment, although its joystick-like multimedia controller takes some getting used to.After a week living with the CT200h, it appeared the key aspect to best use of this car is to drive it just like any other. I found the ability to select EV mode more frustrating than anything. Pressing the button on entering Birmingham's suburbs created a feeling of rising above the polluting crowd, only to plunge back down to earth within the space of merely two miles when the car switched back into petrol mode as the battery drained. The button seems pointless other than highlighting that the car has an electric mode. It seems better to leave the decision when to enter EV mode to the car's on-board computer.Indeed the computer does a far better job. Drivers can select between eco, normal and sport modes, which allow the engine management system to alter the car's responsiveness. Handily, colour-changing backlighting and a display in the dash keeps the driver informed of how they're doing.Essentially CT200h gives business motorists another option to add to their shortlists. The pressure, then, will be on their local Lexus dealership to prove its case. SpecificationPrice £27,850Engine 1.8-litre petrol hybrid: 98bhpPerformance 0-62mph 10.3sec, top speed 113mphTransmission CVT autoEfficiency 68.9mpg, 94g/km CO2RV (3yr/30k) TBCRivals Nissan Leaf, VW Golf BluemotionNew car marketNewsDealerprofileUsed car analysisInsight:RecruitmentPeugeot UKNewsdigestNew carnewsDriven Lexus CT200h F-Sport - on sale nowLeave it to the computer
By Jeremy BennettA real-life mother of three in our office has chosen the Volkswagen Touran as her next company car and it's easy to see why. It fulfils all the requirements of a family five-a-side team when it comes to practicality, comfort and safety. Costing £22,245 our SE spec car - the spec my colleague is getting next month - sits in the middle of the price range which goes from £18,360 to £26,865. As well as having seven seats (and 500 seating combinations and providing between 121 and 1,989 litres of luggage space), there are numerous space saving and storage features: driver's and front passenger's under seat drawer, folding tables on the back of the front seats and compartments in the roof.And for the comfort of young ones in the back the heat insulated tinted glass from the B-pillar backwards reduces sunlight glare by up to 65%. Safety features in SE and Sport include lane assist that counter-steers if the car drifts from the lane and gives a warning sound if you take your hands off the steering wheel; the second row seats have head restraints and three-point automatic belts and a host of airbags, including curtains for the front and second row. It's easy to drive and offers excellent comfort and visibility for the driver and roominess for all passengers. Of course, there's the Volkswagen build quality (this has leached in a very positive way into Skodas now, so watch out VW when Skoda introduce a people carrier), but there is some-thing lacking in visual appeal: it is very boxy compared to competitors, particularly the Ford Galaxy and Peugeot 5008, so if your children's opinion matters then they may huff a little if you conclude your tour of show-rooms with the Touran top of the shopping list. Simply have the riposte that begins, 'when you can afford your own car' at the ready. SpecificationPrice £19,215Engine 1.6 TDI 105bhp Performance 0-62mph 12.8 secs; top speed 114mphTransmission 6-sp manEfficiency 44.8mpg combined; 134g/km CO2RV (3yr/30k) 42.9%Rivals Peugeot 5008, Ford S-Max Seat AlhambraNew car marketNewsDealerprofileUsed car analysisInsight: RecruitmentPeugeot UKNewsdigestNew car newsDriven Volkswagen Touran SE - on sale nowAn ideal family favourite "It's easy to drive and offers excellent comfort and visibility"