With Britain’s roads becoming even busier despite the economic downturn, it might not be surprising to learn that more than a quarter of new vehicles on the roads last year were not traditional sales – but short term leases. Increasingly popular in both the US and the UK, statistics show that the amount of drivers choosing to lease vehicles has rocketed in the last few years, up to 27% today from about 22% in 2012.
With the rate of leasing within the automotive industry higher last year than at any time in more than a decade, what’s all the fuss about?
One way of looking at the boom of leasing is by looking at today’s buying culture. There’s been a significant change in consumer habits and expectations – where paying monthly subscriptions or payments are the new norm, from phone or gym memberships to holiday payments and vehicles.
The constant demand for the latest models, and most up to date technology is also driving consumers away from being tied to a single vehicle (or phone) for 10 years with the hassle of resale at the end of it.
Leasing has offered a viable alternative for many: a chance to drive home in a vehicle that has the latest technology, while still keeping that monthly payment within reach.
And, the thinking goes, in three years, when it is time to return the car, the technology will have advanced so much that it will be time to upgrade. Owners can dump their out-dated infotainment system for the newest version.
However, the overall environment is a little different when looking at luxury cars. These have typically been more likely to be leased than purchased, and at the moment around half of all luxury cars are leased.
Top Lease Cars
Surprisingly, despite standard car brands being offered as leases, and with payments as little as £95 a month, and whole contracts costing less than the VAT on a vehicle purchase, luxury cars still dominate the UK market. Mercedes Benz leads the way in the UK with 22% of all online lease queries, followed by BMW with 21% and Audi with 18%. According to the latest internet search data, in a report carried out by VertuLeaseCars, the most popular models of lease cars in the UK per city are as follows.
Overall Top Lease Car in the UK
Mercedes-Benz is the leader with 24% share of all searches, with the A Class being the most popular search. But individual cities, including London, are game changers. Range Rover, Porsche, Jaguar and Ferrari all outperform more mainstream brands like Ford, Nissan and Fiat. Here’s a look at a per-city breakdown:
Range Rover Evoque
The most popular Range Rover lease model searched for in London is the 2015 Range Rover Evoque.
Not surprisingly, the Range Rover Evoque leads the way as one of the most popular SUV’s in the UK with Land Rover taking almost 20,000 pre-orders of their flagship model and long waiting lists. The Evoque is nothing if not a head-turner and is available in either 3- or 5-door body styles however, Range Rover’s chic styling comes at a slight cost to space and driver visibility.
The luxury of the inside finishing is second-to-none though, with superb materials and high quality components. With a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine and a 9 speed auto the Evoque packs a serious punch too, being equally comfortable on a long haul drive, off-road or for urban cruising.
Next up and number one in Cardiff, the most popular searched for lease car in the UK is the new BMW X5. Also in its third generation and always considered as one of the more car-like SUVs to drive, the X5 has great dynamic ability on the road and a hefty engine range. The latest BMW model also promises more comfort and practicality than before and goes to show how luxury dominates the market.
The X5 is actually one of the few luxury SUVs to promote and prioritise on-road performance over off-road abilities, which, although exciting for the adverts, doesn’t really follow the normal usage. BMW have done well from this and have set a template that’s now become the norm for luxury SUVs.
Over in Northern Ireland the lease car demand is a little more toned down, with the Toyota Yaris coming up trumps as the most searched for vehicle.
Toyota has a few cards up their sleeve though, and the Yaris has a roomy interior that’s packed with equipment, plus a superb reliability record. This spunky car is absolutely built for urban life, manoeuvring well in tight spaces yet offering a comfortable, refined ride. The Icon trim level comes with 1.33-litre petrol engine and gives you the kind of power you need for the city, plus a punch for out on to the motorways. The Yaris handles well and gives you some real bite on country roads; maybe that’s why its Belfast’s most sought after lease vehicle.
In third place overall but number one in the UK is the Audi A3. Distinguishing itself with a great-handling, this smart saloon packs an upscale interior and luxury features that set the standard for the whole market. At 170 BHP, the 1.8-litre turbo four can handle the motorways, and with front-wheel drive and a 6 speed auto as standard there’s not much to question why this is one of the top lease cars in the UK.
Optional powertrains include a 220-hp four with all-wheel drive or a 150-hp diesel. Again, steering is precise, the ride is well composed and the interior fittings and finish are superb.
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