Thanks to CO2-based taxation rules and growing environmental concerns, the idea of running a large, diesel-powered saloon or estate as a company car is, in 2020, a pretty unattractive one 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 likely won’t 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 are more widely available, and cheaper, than ever before. This cheaper 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, however, 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 is 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 larger 13kWh battery too, as opposed to the 8.8kWh that appeared in the last one. This means its claimed electric range is now up to 38 miles on the WLTP cycle - though you’d be hard-pressed to cover that much ground in the real world. Still, that figure combined with a CO2 rating of 26g/km means the GTE slots into the 12% BIK band.
Admittedly, with a price tag of just over £37,000 the GTE is one of the pricier cars on this list. There is a cheaper Golf eHybrid available with just 201bhp, but the price difference is small enough that the GTE is still the better buy.
The Golf shares its powertrain with some of the other cars here, but it also manages to form the most cohesive package as it’s one of the more entertaining plug-in hybrids, without becoming unduly harsh.