CO2-based taxation rules and growing environmental concerns make the idea of running a large, diesel-powered saloon or estate as a company car a pretty unattractive one in 2022 for the vast majority of people.
As these rules get ever stricter, a similar shift is starting to occur further down the food chain too. The small-capacity petrol and diesel hatchbacks that might have once appealed as an entry-level company car are starting to become increasingly expensive ownership propositions. From a financial point of view, it's unlikely to be too long until the prospect of running a mid-spec, oil-burning Volkswagen Golf for work is about as seemingly nonsensical as running a six-cylinder BMW might be today.
Thankfully, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are more widely available, and cheaper, than ever before. This more affordable end of the market is largely dominated by the Volkswagen Group brands, but there’s a growing number of alternatives, too.
When it came to the job of being a refined, easy-driving plug-in hybrid, the previous Golf GTE was a pretty slick operator. What it lacked, though, was some of the dynamic pep that was essential for it to be taken seriously as an eco-friendly alternative to the excellent Mk7 Golf GTI.
This new Mk8 version retains a healthy amount of what made the last Golf GTE a good PHEV but brings an additional smattering of athleticism and engagement to the table too. Grip levels are good, its steering accurate and responsive, and body control usefully tight. Make no mistake: it’s still not quite as focused as its purely petrol-powered stablemate, but by PHEV standards, the new GTE has enough talent about it to keep keener drivers interested.
It now has a 13kWh battery too, as opposed to the 8.8kWh one that appeared in the last version. This means its claimed electric range is up to 38 miles on the WLTP cycle, although you’d be hard-pressed to achieve that in the real world. Still, that figure combined with a CO2 rating of 26g/km means the GTE slots into the 12% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax band.
Admittedly, with a price of just over £37,000, the GTE is one of the pricier cars on this list. A cheaper Golf eHybrid is available with just 201bhp, but the price difference is small enough that the GTE is the better buy. That said, bear in mind that the lower-powered car has a claimed electric range of over 40 miles so qualifies for 8% BIK, which adds up to quite a saving on your monthly tax. (Lower-rate earners will save around £50 per month compared with the GTE. You pays your money and all that.)
The Golf shares its powertrain with some of the other cars here, but it also manages to form the most cohesive package because it’s one of the more entertaining plug-in hybrids without becoming unduly harsh in its ride quality.