While the Covid-19 pandemic has changed working practices for many of us, there are still plenty of people who commute to their place of employment on a daily basis or choose to drive now instead of taking public transport. So, with that in mind, which are the best cars for commuters to ease away the stresses of the daily grind? Here are our top 10 choices, focusing predominantly on petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars – as we have a separate piece on electric cars for commuters for you to enjoy.
1. Volkswagen Up
Power source: Petrol | Leasing from: £184pcm
For the city commuter who doesn’t need a lot of power, the Volkswagen Up remains a strong contender – even in its dotage. It feels more refined and grown-up than its diminutive shape might have you believe, while the 65hp normally aspirated petrol engine offers low running costs yet is zippy enough to work well in town. Increase your budget from the £184pcm entry level price we offer and you’ll get yourself into a Beats edition trim level for a mere tenner a month more – or even the all-electric model for less than £200pcm.
2. Hyundai i20
Power source: Petrol mild hybrid | Leasing from: £195pcm
If your daily journey to work sees you taking on a long commute that's a little further out of the nearest city or town, with a touch of motorway driving needed before you get into the cut-and-thrust of urban commuting, then you need a quality supermini. And you won’t do much better at the moment than a super-sharp-suited Hyundai i20 lease. Any model, including the basic version we’ve lined up for £195pcm here, is good, but for just another fiver a month you can get into the 1.0 T-GDI mild-hybrid i20 in SE Connect trim – and we reckon that’s a winner all ends up at a very reasonable £200pcm.
3. Honda HR-V
Power source: Petrol hybrid | Leasing from: £tbc
If you need something which doubles up as a practical family machine at weekends, yet which can also do the stressful weekly commute in economical ease and which isn’t too hard on the old wallet, the Honda HR-V is the vehicle for you. Its higher-than-a-hatchback seating gives good visibility both in town and when driving on country lanes, and yet the e:HEV hybrid powertrain – shared with the Jazz supermini – allows for up to 52.3mpg combined and plenty of zero-emissions motoring when on slower city streets.
4. Kia Ceed
Power source: Petrol | Leasing from: £183pcm
With a pleasingly torquey 1.0-litre T-GDI turbo petrol engine, Intelligent Stop & Go start-stop fuel-saving tech, a 7-year warranty and a decent kit list even in basic ‘2’ specification, the Kia Ceed is a classic, great value, no-nonsense hatch that ought to suit any commuter's drive to work down to the ground. Just as good in the city as it is out on the motorway, the Korean hatchback also looks smart and urbane on the outside, while the superb cabin quality will soothe away those stressful early-morning trips to work.
5. Volvo XC40 T4
Power source: Plug-in hybrid | __Leasing from: __£424pcm
This is the compact crossover that has it all. As a T4, that means it’s a plug-in hybrid and the near-11kWh battery pack allows the Volvo XC40 to do up to 27 miles on electric power alone – perfect for semi-urban commuters with the ability to plug the Swedish SUV in to recharge at both work and their place of residence. Throw in up to 134.5mpg and CO2 emissions of just 48g/km, which result in benefit-in-kind taxation of a lowly 13% for company-car users, and this is the perfect commuter car for those living in stylish, leafy suburbs.
6. Skoda Octavia iV
Power source: Plug-in hybrid | __Leasing from: __£365pcm
This Skoda Octavia iV is the car to suit commuters who have a regular short trip to work during the week, but who might have to visit a remote office in a faraway town from time to time, thus needing something to excel on the motorway. So this Czech chariot is the one to go for, as its 1.4-litre TSI-electric drivetrain makes a healthy 204hp and 350Nm combined. That means you get the best of all worlds – in the city, it can go up to 43 miles on electric power alone and has a claimed economy figure of a scarcely believable 283mpg, but when you need something big, stable and powerful for those long motorway trips then the Skoda has you covered for that eventuality, too.
Find unbeatable Skoda Octavia leasing deals at Vanarama, with offers on both the Hatchback and Estate models available.
7. Nissan Qashqai
Power source: Petrol mild hybrid | __Leasing from: __£342pcm
If you live somewhere semi-urban but you don’t have easy access to parking where you could charge a part-electric or fully electric plug-in vehicle, then a mild hybrid might be a good shout for your commuting needs. And that leads us to the Mk3 Nissan Qashqai. It looks better than ever on the outside nowadays, while the cabin quality has also taken a big upswing for this generation. Stretch your budget a little and opt for the more potent 158hp model, and you get a brilliant crossover that’ll do the grind of the daily commute just as well as it will go long distances on the motorway at weekends.
8. BMW 118i
Power source: Petrol | __Leasing from: __£320pcm
Proving that having a BMW need not break the bank, the 118i is a brilliant commuter car for those who like a bit of prestige in their lives. Its 1.5-litre 3-cylinder engine is shared with the MINI Cooper, so while it might seem quite small in a large, premium hatchback, its 136hp has no trouble moving the 1 Series around in nippy fashion. It’s also good on fuel when you throttle back in it, and of course the BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional interior will be wonderful to interact with when you’re stuck in early-morning gridlock on your way to the office.
9. Ford Kuga
Power source: Plug-in hybrid | Leasing from: £338pcm
We’ve driven quite a few plug-in hybrids over the years but none have ever seemed to manage their electrical resources better than the Ford Kuga. Its relatively huge 14.4kWh lithium allows for a theoretical 35 miles of zero-emission motoring, as well as up to 202mpg and CO2 emissions of a mere 32g/km. Factor in Ford’s usual excellent chassis know-how, loads of enjoyable rolling refinement and a top-notch cabin, and this Kuga is a commuter-car dream.
10. Audi A6
Power source: Diesel mild hybrid | Leasing from: £460pcm
A luxobarge for the long-distance commuter. If you’re on the motorway to get to work more often than not, you still want a powerful turbo diesel – and preferably, one with some mild-hybrid technology to save even more fuel on a steady cruise. An Audi A6 lease more than fits the bill. The 40 TDI engine is as frugal as you like but it has more than enough punch for the Audi to hold its own in the outside lane of the M1, while the A6’s typically brilliant cabin – which is not only beautifully finished but ergonomically superb, meaning you’ll remain 100% comfortable on long trips – is the icing on the cake.