As things begin to return to a new “normal” after two years of uncertainty and lockdowns, many of us are heading back to the office to work. Of course, for some this means a long drive every day, so they need a car that can alleviate the monotony. If you, like our reader, have £15,000 to spend on a good diesel passenger car, read on to see what we’ve found on the used market. But first, what were we looking for?
Since a commuter car is typically driven at least five days a week, it must be something that want To pass the time. For example; some cars, like the Ford Focus, will make every drive more exciting with an immersive driving experience, while others, like the Skoda Octavia, will satisfy with a comfortable ride and a tech-filled interior.
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Image is another important aspect of a good commuter vehicle. If you frequently visit clients or take long business trips, a car that exudes prestige should hit all the right notes when you pull into the corporate parking lot.
Finally, a commuter car must be affordable to run. While some drivers will be able to claim their fuel costs in business expenses, many will have to accumulate the cash themselves. For years, travelers have chosen diesel cars for their inherent efficiency and low fuel consumption, helping to keep additional expenses to a minimum.
Despite this, newer diesel cars have fallen out of favour, hampered both by emissions scandals and the lure of sophisticated hybrid and electric models, which can be even more profitable to operate. However, many of these high-tech machines are still expensive to buy, plus the ones that need charging can be impractical if you don’t have a driveway or garage. More importantly, the continued unpopularity of diesel means prices are lower than ever, making them the best option for those who want to save money on their trip.
We took all these aspects into consideration and chose three strong contenders for your next diesel vehicle. All of our options take a different approach, but meet our readers’ needs for a fuel-efficient diesel saloon. If you’re looking for a new car for work, check out our list of the best models on sale today. If not, keep reading to see our best selection.
BY: Direct steering, smooth drivetrains, solid interior
AGAINST: It is not the cheapest and smallest boot.
The Mazda 6 is a handsome sedan with a good mix of driver engagement and comfort. Its suspension minimizes body roll without hitting potholes, while the steering is direct and the diesel engine is frugal. The sleek manual and automatic gearboxes also impress, as does Mazda’s fourth-place finish in our 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
Inside, the Mazda 6 is strong and well-built, with high-quality materials on display throughout the cabin and a sleek, distinctive design. A seven-inch infotainment system sits proudly on the dash, and while it’s not quite as stylish as the VW unit, it’s simple and intuitive to use. Legroom in the rear is quite good, though headroom is tight for taller passengers. Boot capacity is the smallest here at 480 litres, but folding down the rear seats increases it to a more impressive 1,632 litres.
Your £15,000 buys a 2.2-litre 18-plate Skyactiv-D car with 35,000 miles in Sport Nav trim, with a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control and a heated steering wheel.
BY: Spacious rear seats and trunk, refined, comfortable
AGAINST: Steering lacks feedback, cabin lacks style
While the Passat is nice to drive, it’s not nearly as rewarding as the Mazda 6. Its steering, for example, is perfectly precise but lacks a bit of feedback, while the gearboxes are strong but lack the finesse of drive units. his Japanese rival. However, ride quality is a big win for the Passat, and its overall refinement and lack of road noise are also impressive.
What the Passat’s interior lacks in style, it makes up for in clean design and is made from high-quality materials. Ergonomics are also good, while the seamlessly integrated touchscreen is feature-rich and easy to use. Rear legroom isn’t best-in-class, but it’s still impressive, and rear headroom is good as long as the car doesn’t have the optional panoramic sunroof installed. You also get an impressive 585 liters of boot space, rising to 1,152 with the rear seats folded down.
For £15,000 you can get a Passat 2.0-litre 17-plate TDI automatic with 40,000 miles and in SE Business trim, fitted with heated seats, satellite navigation and adaptive cruise control.
BY: Solid interior, excellent infotainment, excellent economy
AGAINST: Uninspiring to drive, lack of storage.
The Kia Optima isn’t unpleasant to drive, but it isn’t memorable. There’s plenty of grip and the steering is precise enough, but it lacks feedback, while the body lean is more prominent than in the VW and Mazda. However, the Optima is well suited to freeway commuting thanks to its soft suspension. It’s not as refined as the Passat, but it’s good enough.
Being robust and of good quality, if a little bland, the interior of the Optima is similar to that of the Passat. One standout is the touchscreen infotainment system: Kia regularly scores well in this area in our Driver Power surveys, and the Optima’s solid setup is no exception. The Optima’s rear seats are also impressive: there’s enough legroom and headroom for two tall adults to sit comfortably. The Kia’s 505-litre boot capacity falls between that of the Mazda and the Volkswagen, but when the rear seats are folded down, they don’t lie quite as flat as on the two Optima rivals here.
For just under £15,000 you’ll get your hands on a 18-plate 1.7-litre manual Optima CRDi with 35,000 miles on 3 levels, giving you a Harman Kardon stereo and reversing camera, plus Apple CarPlay and Android functionality. Auto.
The Mazda 6 is proof that business travel doesn’t have to be boring. The saloon’s striking looks are more ‘concept car’ than ‘commuter car’, plus its interior feels well built and is a joy to spend time in. Though not the cheapest option here, the 6 still gets over 50 mpg, which is only slightly less than the Passat. Finally, a comfortable yet immersive ride means the Mazda feels like a sports car compared to the somewhat boring Kia, making highway miles just fade away.
Looking to add some luxury to your daily commute? Check out our list of the Top 10 Big Executive Cars
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