Currently reading: Top leasing deals: BMWs and Range Rovers for less than a PCP
Leasing rather than financing can often let you bag a more swish car, especially at the market’s higher end. We guide you through the options
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12 mins read
17 May 2020

Car finance is big business these days, with around 90% of new cars in the UK being obtained through personal contract purchase (PCP) deals.

Yet with four out of five drivers swapping into a new car at the end of their term, rather than taking up the option of buying their existing car, could leasing be a wiser option?

Also known as personal contract hire (PCH), this is essentially a long-term rental, which is familiar to business users but largely overlooked by private buyers.

You never get to own the car, but the deposits and monthly rental bills are usually much lower than for a PCP, making this is a great way to get your hands on models that would ordinarily be out of reach.

Most manufacturers offer PCH as an option, but you’ll get the best deals from the dedicated leasing firms, most of which operate online.

To give an idea of what’s out there, we’ve gathered together 20 cars that are as interesting as they are entertaining – and with everything from SUVs to sports cars, there should be something for everyone.

Range Rover Evoque D150 2WD R-Dynamic

The new Evoque is arguably the most desirable small SUV there is. With its successful update of the original’s slick design and step-changes in quality and driving dynamics, the baby Rangie is now as good as it looks. It’s assured and precise on the road, while its trick Terrain Response system means it can go farther off the beaten track than many 4x4 rivals. Then there’s the interior, which oozes a sense of calm: few places are as pleasant to pass the miles in.

Deal

List price: £31,385; monthly cost: £302; initial rental: £2721; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0 TB Nero Edizione

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Oozing style and character, the Giulia is a compact executive saloon you buy with your heart as much as your head. Recent updates have improved its everyday usability, but happily the quick steering, rear-wheel-drive balance and lovely 2.0-litre turbo engine remain largely unchanged. The Nero Edizione not only sounds very cool (just say it in your best Italian), but also the matt black treatment for its 18in alloys, exterior trim and badging give it the same visual vibe as the mighty Quadrifoglio. There’s natty two-tone leather trim, too, plus a whole host of tech upgrades and dial-controlled infotainment.

Deal

List price: £35,550; monthly cost: £375; initial rental: £2248; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

BMW M135i

The revocation of rear-wheel drive for the 1 Series may have upset the BMW faithful but, on the basis of the M135i, there should be little to fear. Yes, the old straight-six engine has been slung out in favour of a turbo four-pot but, with 302bhp, it gives away little in performance. Crucially, it’s mated to a trick four-wheel drive system that makes it way faster from point to point, with a Torsen front differential and clever torque vectoring giving it gazelle-like agility. It’s also more spacious inside than the old car and packed with the latest connectivity kit, if that’s your thing.

Deal

List price: £35,900; monthly cost: £359; initial rental: £2260; term: 36 months; annual mileage: 8000

Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance 5dr

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The Mk7 Golf GTI is still one of the best hot hatches around and, because it’s a run-out model, there are some eye-catching deals. Fast and fun, it also features a sheen of refinement, comfort and practicality, making it the ultimate all-rounder. Only the Performance is available now, getting you 242bhp from the lusty 2.0-litre turbo engine, the clever VAQ limited-slip differential and bigger front brake discs and calipers. Over typically bucking and writhing back roads, the GTI is as poised and unflappable as they come, while its relative rarity over the Golf R gives it extra cachet.

Deal

List price: £28,300; monthly cost: £248; initial rental: £2229; term: 24 months; annual mileage: 5000

Citroën Berlingo 1.2 Puretech Feel M

For some, the ultimate luxury is space – and on that basis, few family cars are as sumptuous as the Berlingo. If you’re unkind, this functional French machine is little more than a van with windows, but there’s so much more to it than that. Its intelligent packaging and vast interior make every family trip a doddle, while the languid way it travels down the road makes stress simply fall away. In a totally rational world free of automotive prejudice, all family cars would be Berlingos.

Deal

List price: £21,420; monthly cost: £243; initial rental: £1458; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

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The electric revolution is now in full swing, and the Model 3 is leading the charge. Offering a generous range of around 250 miles and strong performance, this Tesla is an EV that makes switching from internal combustion less of a leap of faith. It’s still not as engaging to drive as traditional rivals, but it steers sweetly enough, clings on gamely and always remains poised and agile. And with the longevity of batteries still an unknown, leasing rather than purchasing makes perfect sense.

Deal

List price: £43,045; monthly cost: £493; initial rental: £4435; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Cupra Ateca 2.0 TSI 300 DSG

Given the current demand for high-riding high-performance machines, it was no surprise that Seat chose the Ateca to spearhead the launch of its Cupra sibling brand. Essentially packaging the engine and drivetrain of a Golf R into its angular compact SUV, the Spanish firm has delivered a surprisingly effective cross-country weapon. There’s plenty of go and grip, thanks to 296bhp and four-wheel drive, while the stiffened suspension trades comfort (it’s a little on the firm side) for control and incisive turn-in. And obviously it has space for five and a decent boot.

Deal

List price: £38,140; monthly cost: £359; initial rental: £2159; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Ford Focus 1.0T 125 Zetec

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Being sensible doesn’t mean selling out, as the Focus continues to prove. More than two decades after the original arrived, Ford’s family hatchback continues to meld family-friendly versatility with all-out driving fun. No car in the class steers more sweetly, while its balance of ride and handling is one of the best there is; there’s an expensively sophisticated feel to the damping. Yet it’s also spacious and comfortable, while its lively turbocharged triple punches twice as hard as its 1.0-litre capacity suggests and is capable of 50mpg when driven with restraint.

Deal

List price: £21,190; monthly cost: £215; initial rental: £1296; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Jaguar F-Type Coupé P300 R-Design

Recently fettled and looking better than ever, the F-Type Coupé is also great value as a leasing option. Best of the bunch is the entry-level turbocharged 296bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder model, which offsets some of the performance loss to its bigger-capacity brothers with neater and more balanced handling. And it’s still rather rapid, sprinting from 0-62mph in just 5.4sec, helped in no small part by its quick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox. The rest of the car is pretty much identical to the 5.0-litre V8, which means you get the sleeker nose treatment and a cosseting cabin that feels as special as it looks.

Deal

List price: £57,005; monthly cost: £560; initial rental: £3360; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Audi TT Coupé 40 TFSI Sport

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The TT may be getting on a bit, but it’s still desirable, even in entry-level 40 TFSI guise (that’s a 197bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder to you and me). For starters, it looks great, while its interior is one of Audi’s best, with its mix of cool minimalism and top-notch perceived quality. This is also arguably the best TT to drive, with its lighter weight and zingy motor making it more lithe and agile than the heftier quattro and RS versions. It’s easy to live with, too, and comes with all the kit you’ll need.

Deal

List price: £32,495; monthly cost: £282; initial rental: £1692; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Mini Electric Level 1

It was only a matter of time before the ever-retro Mini was given the on-trend electric treatment, and the result is rather good – if you make a lot of short-hop journeys, that is. The 181bhp motor’s instant muscle suits the three-door hatchback’s darty and agile demeanour, while the near-silent running and one-gear-fits-all linearity make it effortless in town. It looks funky in entry-level guise, with its yellow detailing and eye-catching asymmetric Power Spoke rims. A 140-mile range isn’t great, but it makes far more sense on a lease, particularly with such high list prices.

Deal

List price: £27,900; monthly cost: £282; initial rental: £1691; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 5000

VW California 2.0 TDI 150 Beach

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Campervans are brilliant, and the California is one of the best. Yet they are also expensive to buy and for many will come in handy for only a few years of family life, which is why leasing makes sense. The Beach version is best, because it has a more versatile space with extra seats. Combined with the van’s relatively modest dimensions, this means it can double up as daily transport, yet it still features four berths, an awning and a table and chairs. It’s not a thrilling steer in the traditional sense, but anyone who doesn’t enjoy driving what’s essentially a van needs their pulse checking.

Deal

List price: £46,432; monthly cost: £572; initial rental: £3432; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

Okay, that monthly figure may seem quite steep, but it’s around three-quarters of what you would pay on a PCP deal, while the initial rental is about a third of what you would put down as a deposit. Think of it like that and PCH is a great way to experience one of the finest exponents of the pared-back, track-focused sports car art. From its howling 4.0-litre flat-six engine to its 911 GT3-derived suspension, the 718 GT4 is dripping with Porsche Motorsport credibility, and few cars are as immersive and exciting to drive. Better still, with two-year service intervals, all you need to do is pay the monthly rental and fill up the tank. At the end of the term, hand it back and hang onto the memories

Deal

List price: £75,348; monthly cost: £838; initial rental: £5028; term: 24 months; annual mileage: 8000

BMW M2 Competition

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This deal is too good to miss. For a biscuit over £500 per month, you could be tooling around in one of the most entertaining M cars in a generation – and one with a manual gearbox to boot. Essentially a reworking of the original M2, the Competition features the proper S55 Motorsport straight six from the M3 and M4, some body-strengthening and subtle suspension tweaks. It’s a riot to drive, its trajectory altered as much by your right foot as the steering wheel. Yet there’s poise and control as well, allowing you to be neat and tidy. It’s relatively spacious, too, so it can also do the sensible stuff.

Deal

List price: £52,405; monthly cost: £504; initial rental: £3024; term: 36 months; annual mileage: 8000

Seat Leon 1.5 TSI 150 FR

As a great example of how the leasing numbers add up, here’s a family-friendly warm hatchback for the same monthly outlay as a city car on a PCP. You certainly get more dash for your cash, because the Leon is able to move along at a fair lick courtesy of its 148bhp 1.5-litre turbo motor. And while it’s not quite as uplifting to drive as the Focus, there’s more than enough grip, poise and feedback to keep things interesting. It’s also practical, of course, with space for five, a decent boot and an interior that feels positively opulent compared with that of, say, the Toyota Aygo.

Deal

List price: £23,595; monthly cost: £190; initial rental: £1140; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

BMW 840i Coupé

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It’s not often the case with luxury grand tourers that less is more, but the 8 Series could be the exception. With the hard edge of the M models removed, the 840i does a fine line in wafty, long-distance relaxation. Yet there’s still enough sharpness in its rear-wheel-drive chassis to ensure it steers with crisp precision, while its velvety 335bhp straight six punches hard enough to have most bases covered. The two-door also looks the part, while its cosseting interior is beautifully finished – although you won’t want to spend too much time in the cramped back seats.

Deal

List price: £72,630; monthly cost: £608; initial rental: £3647; term: 24 months; annual mileage: 8000

Skoda Superb Estate 1.5 TSI SE

If it’s acres and acres of space you’re after, look no further than the Superb Estate. No matter which way you attack it with a tape measure, the Czech wagon is vast. It has enough rear leg room to rival the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while the boot will swallow 1950 litres of luggage with the rear seats down – which is a lot. Yet this car’s party trick is that it never feels unwieldy on the road, handling with the sort of panache and precision that we’ve come to expect from models underpinned by the MQB platform. It’s comfy, too, while the SE’s kit count and fit and finish will make you wonder why people pay extra for premium-badged rivals.

Deal

Price: £25,755; monthly cost: £237; initial rental: £1422; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Toyota Land Cruiser 2.8 D-4D Utility 5dr

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If you want an off-roader, do it properly with a Land Cruiser. For just over £350 per month, you can get this unstoppable and unburstable Toyota in hugely appealing Utility specification, which means steel wheels and a vast interior that’s as hard-wearing as diamond elbow patches. Not that it’s short of kit, mind, with air conditioning and all the connectivity you’ll want. It’s also great to drive, in a rugged and slightly vague sort of way. You need more? Well, Matt Prior of this parish still gets all wistful and dewy-eyed when talking about his recently departed long-termer, which is all the recommendation you need.

Deal

List price: £36,050; monthly cost: £364; initial rental: £2184; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 5000

Subaru WRX STi Type UK

One of the great things about leasing is that many companies source cars from stock, and that’s why you’re still able to get hold of a WRX STi. By all objective measures, the superannuated Scooby is left trailing by the recent rash of high-powered hot hatches, but that’s sort of missing the point. Yes, it’s noisy and stiff-legged, while its go-faster visual add-ons are garish, but there’s an old-fashioned honesty about it; you can hear and feel it working. More importantly, it’s still rabidly quick, while there’s enough reflected success from Subaru’s past rallying exploits to earn it some kerbside kudos.

Deal

List price: £31,995; monthly cost: £439; initial rental: £3950; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

Land Rover Discovery Sport P200 R-Dynamic S

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After a recent refresh, the Discovery Sport’s appeal is greater than ever. Packing the premium lustre of a Range Rover into a relatively compact seven-seater with unrivalled off-road ability, it’s a hugely capable family car. Sure, the turbo petrol engine has a lot of work to do, but it’s sufficiently smooth and mated to a hassle-free nine-speed automatic ’box, while the chassis delivers a fine blend of sure-footedness and suppleness on the road. It’s a better 4x4 by far for those who enjoy driving.

Deal

List price: £41,370; monthly cost: £382; initial rental: £3445; term: 48 months; annual mileage: 8000

How does leasing work?

A lease is essentially a long-term rental agreement, so you never own the car and, unlike with a PCP, you don’t get the chance to buy it at the end of the term. In many respects, it’s an expensive option, because you never get anything to show for your investment, other than use of the car. But the flip side is that the monthly payments are a lot lower than those of PCPs, as is the initial rental or deposit. Most firms will allow you to vary this, but it’s usually six months up front. And given that so few people decide to buy their car at the end of their PCP anyway, instead swapping into another new car, it’s easily arguable that leasing makes more sense.

What to watch out for

As with all financial matters, whip out your calculator before taking the plunge, so you can make sure that eye-catching monthly rental doesn’t hide some nasty surprises.

Bear in mind leasing makes most sense with higher-value vehicles; with city cars and superminis, your total spend would sometimes be near enough the value of the car.

Read the small print, because most will hand out hefty fines if you exceed your agreed mileage limit or return the car damaged. There will also be an admin fee on top of the initial rental, so make sure you know how much you’ll be paying.

Also make sure VAT is included; leasing is popular with businesses, so listed prices often exclude tax.

Finally, it pays not to be picky. If you’re happy to take a car from stock rather than a factory-build to your specification, there are some surprising savings to be made.

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jer 18 May 2020

The clever part

Is when its a monthly payment some people either don't understand the cost over the term compared to other options (buying or borrowing cash / nearly new / discount new) or decide its all worth it for the new car that that could not afford to pay cash for. But I agree with all the comments only the Seat looks a decent deal and thats because it is probably the run out car.

Safe Surfer 18 May 2020

California Madness!

You would have to be mentally deranged to buy a VW California Beach on the terms you list.  Taking the monthly rental and the initial deposit you would be paying out £30,888 for it. 

This is basically one of the slowest depreciating vehicles on the planet.  The lease company would be laughing all the way to the bank if they did not guarantee you a decent final payment purchase deal to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease.  

Only a complete fool would hand the vehicle back to them after 48 months with no money changing hands.  If you don’t believe me just look at how much used California’s are being advertised for when they are 4 years old.  I realize that the asking price is never the buying price but even so the prices are ridiculously high.  This is a very popular vehicle.

275not599 17 May 2020

Explain please

Living in the US, I don't fully understand this scheme.  Just looking at the Cayman, the cost is the equivalent of a 33% depreciation in 2 years and you are limited to 8,000 miles a year.  How is that a good deal?  Then there are the posts about options being amortized to nothing over your tenure and the hassle they give you at handover time (I have had bad experiences with UK rental companies bitching about a chip in the windscreen etc).  Are there tax advantages?  If not, screw this, I'll buy a car I can afford to pay for up front.

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