Road Test - Skoda Rapid Greenline 1.6 TDI CR 90PS

PD website road tests Skoda Rapid header 300Skoda has used a simple formula for building its market share in the Private Hire sector. Maximise the bang-to-buck ratio.

Over the past decade and a half, Skoda has produced keenly-priced cars that offer a winning combination of roomy interiors and capacious boot space, mated to highly economical and reliable VW Group powertrains.

And while the Superb, Skoda’s biggest saloon, has taken the plaudits, more significant sales to the minicab market have been recorded by the compact Octavia.

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Road Test - Mercedes-Benz S300L BlueTec Hybrid AMG

PD website road test MercS300 hybrid header 300With the E300 BlueTec Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz demonstrated it was possible to make an ultra-clean hybrid chauffeur car that didn’t compromise the ability to carry passengers and their luggage.

The diesel hybrid E-Class was deservedly voted Professional Driver’s Car of the Year in 2013, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that the S300 BlueTec Hybrid should have emulated this feat in 2014.

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Road Test – Tesla S 85+

What’s stopping you from buying an electric car? For most operators, it’s the fear. Watching the range tick down and quietly panicking. Will I get where I’m going, or will the battery run out of juice, leaving me stranded on the motorway?

It’s known as Range Anxiety – and Tesla might just have found a cure. We’ve spent a week with the company’s first proper car, the Model S. And not only is it a comfortable, luxurious car that’s eminently suitable for chauffeuring – it can also go for significant distances without the need to recharge. It’s a genuine game-changer.

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Twin Test – Range Rover Vogue SE vs Mercedes GL350

There’s nothing to match the Range Rover at the top of the luxury SUV market. It’s got the brand, it’s got the quality, and it’s got the space. It’s in a class of its own.

Or is it? Is there an acceptable alternative? Looks like there is. The roots of this test lie in a story from a company we know well at Professional Driver. England Limousines runs a high-profile service at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Conditions are wintry and tough, and SUVs are preferred. But there are very strict environmental rules, which mean the Range Rover is forbidden.

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Road test - Volvo V60 D6 AWD Geartronic Plug-in Hybrid

Eco-chauffeuring continues to play a major role in the urban private hire environment. In London, the Toyota Prius is still king, but this year we’ve seen the launch of two full-electric private hire firms, eConnect Cars and Thriev.

Both have drawbacks. These days, a Prius doesn’t have quite the CO2 emissions advantage it had a few years ago. Super-clean diesels, such as the Skoda Octavia Greenline, can match the Prius for emissions and fuel economy, while offering an equally roomy car for a lower price. And other hybrids have come into the market – notably diesel hybrids from Peugeot and, especially, the Mercedes-Benz E300 Bluetec Hybrid, which offers genuine chauffeur luxury with CO2 emissions that are only 10g/km or so more than the Toyota.

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