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The start point for the best source of fleet information


Date: 12 April 2011

Running costs are the biggest single consideration when adding new models to a business car fleet. In the first of a new series, BusinessCar, in association with KwikCarcost, takes a look at Ford's new Focus, and how it stacks up across the whole spectrum of operating costs against a selection of its key rivals. Paul Barker reports


- 43.8p

The year's biggest business car event is the arrival of the new Ford Focus.

The new model of what's becoming the UK's most ubiquitous of fleet transport went on sale this month, and is a technology-packed lower medium model with features such as DAB digital radio and Bluetooth as standard across the range, while the options list includes the likes of low-speed impact prevention, lane-keep assist and blind-spot alert systems. All this on a more mature Focus that now offers improved comfort and refinement, if losing a little in the handling and driver appeal areas that it used to lead the field in.

But how does this year's most important new business car stack up for running costs? That is the key question for fleets, and we've taken the biggest volume model, the 115hp 1.6 TDCi diesel and compared the whole-life costs, supplied by Kwik Carcost, with a cross-section of rivals.

The most obvious one is the VW Golf, which is Ford's key target for its new Focus as it tries to move the car towards the more premium end of the volume segment, above the main volume brands. Then there's the BMW 1-series, which, along with the Audi A3, has increasingly been encroaching into traditional Ford territory as the badge appeal makes up for the price premium and reduced standard specification.

We've also lobbed in a Budget alternative in the form of the i30 from rapidly growing Hyundai, which will appeal to those that value a low P11D above all other considerations. And, just to give you something extra to think about, we've thrown in the curveball that is the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The most competitive and sensible business choice Alfa has built in a long time, it could be worthy of consideration.

The Focus will dominate all those listed here in volume terms, but these figures should aid your decision making, no matter where the priorities lie for your fleet.

As the newest model here, the Focus enjoys the latest technological developments, and is the only model featured to get under the 110g/km capital allowance boundary, which is particularly advantageous for fleets buying outright, and it also scores well for VED and fuel costs as a result.

On the down-side, the boot is surprisingly small, and service intervals are the shortest here by a hefty margin.

Value lost over 3yrs/60,000 miles/% retained value

£12,615/31.6% - Depreciation comfortably beats the i30 but can't match others.

Fuel cost over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£5430 - Best fuel economy in the selected group.

Service, maintenance and repair costs over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£2062 - Short service intervals mean Focus only beats BMW?1-series.

Core Rival: VW Golf - CPM 44.5p

The most premium of the volume models, VW's Golf has always successfully walked the line between desirability and affordability, even if the latest model is deeply evolutionary rather than a massive step forward from its predecessor. A great all-rounder in whole-life costs terms, the Golf doesn't stand out in many areas, but neither is it particularly weak in any, although fuel economy is the joint-lowest here despite the 1.6 diesel also tying for being the least powerful engine. But decent boot space and the second-best residual value to the BMW, and the second-best SMR cost to the Hyundai, illustrate what a great all-rounder lies behind that sought-after VW badge.

Value lost over 3yrs/60,000 miles/% retained value

£12,715/35.3% - Predictably, Golf is bettered only by BMW?for RV.

Fuel cost over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£5819 - Joint highest here thanks to being?4.5mpg off the Focus.

Service, maintenance and repair costs over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£1661 - Variable service intervals work for VW?in SMR cost terms.

Premium Rival: BMW 116d - CPM 47.5p

BMW's 1-series has been steadily growing in favour among fleets, and was one of the first desirable models to get below 120g/km for access to the lowest benefit-in-kind band. But time, and BMW's rivals, have caught up and passed the 1-series, which is due for replacement in around a year's time, where we can expect another leap forward for fuel economy and CO2. But the 1-series still means access to a premium badge for those still working their way up a company car scale, and the high P11D is partly offset by what's comfortably the best residual value here. But servicing costs also have a premium price tag, and the higher P11D means the biggest tax bills here.

Value lost over 3yrs/60,000 miles/% retained value

£13,235/37.0% - Unmatched RV, but high P11D so it still loses the most money.

Fuel cost over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£5819 - Despite BMW's eco reputation, only Golf doesn't beat the 116d.

Service, maintenance and repair costs over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£2148 - Premium badge certainly means premium price here.

Budget Rival: Hyundai i30 - CPM 41.5p

Hyundai has been making big strides in the corporate market, and the car that kicked it off is the i30. A world away from the cheap but not cheerful Korean cars of old, the quality improvements have been massive, and newer models from Hyundai and sister firm Kia have been even more impressive. But Hyundai is still building its brand, and any badge-conscious drivers will be disappointed to swap a Focus or Vauxhall Astra for an i30, something that's reflected in the low residual value. But that big warranty will be a boon for many, especially high-mileage fleets where the 100,000-mile element may appeal more than the extended years.

Value lost over 3yrs/60,000 miles/% retained value

£11,620/27.9% - Budget brand means low RV, but it falls least in cash terms.

Fuel cost over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£5692 - Middling fuel economy in this company.?Stop/start is standard.

Service, maintenance and repair costs over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£1534 - Refreshing to see that servicing costs are as low as the P11D.

Leftfield Rival: Alfa Giulietta - CPM 45.1p

The Giulietta is finally an Alfa Romeo that can genuinely compete for fleet business, and this one has real practicality and common sense beneath its still-pretty exterior. CO2 is certainly competitive, and the service intervals are the longest here among the set ones, and it would be a surprise if the variable Golf or 1-series manage to get much past 21,000 miles without attention. Although that's not completely reflected in the SMR cost, it should mean less vehicle downtime, with the Focus requiring almost twice as many trips to the dealer. RVs could be better, maybe due to worries about previous behaviour from Alfa, but the firm pledges that's all in the past.

Value lost over 3yrs/60,000 miles/% retained value

£12,995/33.3% - Residual value can't match the Volkswagen Golf.

Fuel cost over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£5692 - Reasonable result, leading the Volkswagen and BMW.

Service, maintenance and repair costs over 3yrs/60,000 miles

£1820 - SMR isn't cheap despite impressive 21,000-mile intervals.