10 best cars for taxi drivers

January 17, 2024 by

Wondering what cars make good choices for private hire or taxi work? We’ve got 10 great options

There are around 230,000 Private Hire Vehicles, or minicabs, in the UK, and a further 57,000 taxis, many of which are conventional cars rather than being classic black cabs. But there has been a rise in the number of private hire vehicles in recent years, driven largely by ride-hailing apps such as Uber.

Just for clarification, taxis can be hailed off the street or picked up from a rank, while minicabs cannot, and must be booked – for the purposes of simplicity we’ll use the terms synonymously here.

Either way, taxi drivers have a unique set of needs, requiring cars that are spacious for passengers and luggage, offer strong reliability and low running costs, while also being reasonably affordable to buy and insure.

That’s a challenging remit, and it’s part of the reason why we’ve done some of the hard work for you and compiled a list of the 10 best cars for taxi drivers you can buy today.

The 10 best cars for taxi work are

1. Skoda Octavia
2. MG 5
3. Toyota Corolla Touring Sports
4. Kia Niro EV
5. Volkswagen Touran
6. Ford Grand Tourneo Connect
7. Mercedes E-Class PHEV
8. Volkswagen Multivan
9. Lexus ES
10. Citroen e-Berlingo

1) Skoda Octavia

Space. That’s one thing the Skoda Octavia has in spades, with rear seats that offer more legroom than is found in some luxury cars. That sense of space continues round at the boot, where the hatchback has buckets of space at 600 litres, or go for the Estate for optimum boot space with its 640-litre cargo space. That should be plenty for even the most load-luggiest of passengers.

The Octavia also has a strong reputation for reliability, is pretty affordable to buy and, if you pick the frugal 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, can return 60mpg or more. Factor in an easy, relaxing driving experience and impressive levels of motorway refinement and you’ve got a car that’s as happy on airport runs as it is pootling around town.

2) MG 5

Okay, so with a range of 250 miles from its battery, the MG 5 EV might not be the best choice for lengthy airport runs, but for cabbies in London it’s an excellent choice, not least because as an electric car it’s exempt from the Congestion Charge until December 2025, saving you £15 a day, which works out at almost £4,000 annually if the car is driven into the centre of town five days a week. 

Oh, and along with the Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer Electric and Peugeot e-308 SW, the MG 5 is currently one of few electric estate cars offered for sale, and has a hefty 580-litre boot. It’s also serious value for money, and is pretty nice to drive, plus looks much better after a 2022 overhaul that sharpened the styling.

3) Toyota Corolla Touring Sports

Of course, electric cars won’t suit higher-mileage drivers that haven’t got time to stop and charge during the day, at which point ‘self-charging’ hybrids such as the Toyota Corolla Touring Sports come into their own.

Especially efficient around town, the combination of petrol engine and a small battery capable of powering the car on its own for repeated short distances means emissions are lower than a petrol or diesel car. It’s a system that works particularly well in urban confines. 

And the estate version of the Corolla has a decent book, if not at Skoda Octavia levels, and is comfortable and relaxing to drive.

4) Kia Niro EV

The electric version of the Niro – called the Kia Niro EV – ticks all the right boxes – comfortable, spacious, cost-efficient and well equipped, plus the added bonus for those in London in particular is the zero rate of congestion charge until December 2025.

The Niro EV has an official range of 285 miles, and won’t be too far shy of that in the real world if most of your journeys are urban, although motorway runs will eat into that. 

Boot space is reasonable at 475 litres, but the Niro EV will appeal more to the type of driver shuttling a couple of people across cities, rather than the airport run.

5) Volkswagen Touran

People carriers were once hugely popular, but the rise of the SUV has all but ended the MPV market, with just a handful of these spacious cars sold from new.

The Volkswagen Touran is one of these contenders, and fortunately it’s an excellent vehicle, with decent passenger space, low running costs, an easy driving experience and a range of efficient engines. Another string to the Touran’s bow is that it can seat a driver plus six passengers, increasing opportunities for cabbies. 

It’s not the most exciting of choices, or as cheap as it used to be, but the combination of space/people carrying ability but on a fairly compact footprint that means you can pick through narrow or crowded streets is pretty much unmatched. Also worth noting is that you’re now limited to 150hp petrol engine options, there isn’t a diesel these days.

6) Ford Grand Tourneo Connect

A taxi is over all else a work tool, so something based on a Ford van should be a good start for a working vehicle. The Grand in Ford Grand Tourneo Connect means it’s the seven-seater, rather than the regular five-seat Tourneo Connect, but both offer impressive practicality with plenty of space for either six passengers, or four and a mountain of luggage, given the car’s small dimensions. 

There’s a choice of 114hp petrol or 122hp diesel engines depending on how urban or long-distance your fares will be, but be prepared for a very van-like interior that doesn’t quite have the car creature comforts of other cars on this list. But you can have it in funkier Active trim, which gives the car some off-road style cladding to enhance the looks. 

7) Mercedes E-Class PHEV

The Mercedes E-Class is a common sight outside any German airport, but in the UK it tends to be reserved for an executive class of passenger.

But in plug-in hybrid form in particular, it can still be a very sensible and efficient form of high-quality people transporter.  While there are petrol or diesel alternatives, Mercedes PHEVs are up with the best on the market for range, and with the E-Class that means around 70 miles if you’re light on the right foot. The only downside of choosing a plug-in is that boot space is quite badly hampered, but there is the choice of a more sensible 230hp E300e model, or the higher-performance E400e with 280hp. 

And obviously with an E-Class, you’re looking at supreme driver and passenger comfort.

8) Volkswagen Multivan

It’s fair to say that the Volkswagen Multivan isn’t cheap, but it’s practical, spacious and not too van-like to drive for what looks like a VW van. 

Interior flexibility is impressive, with seats that slide and can be removed completely for maximised space, and you can choose from petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid power options – the latter being particularly handy for urban users. 

As mentioned, it’s a pretty pricey vehicle, but the sliding doors, huge amount of room for seven people and a decent amount of luggage and general ease of driving give it some pretty obvious appeal.

9) Lexus ES

Looking for a smooth, relaxing and efficient large saloon? Then the Lexus ES hybrid could tick the box. 

It’s beautifully made on the inside, if you ignore the chronic infotainment system, and there’s a huge amount of space for making your passengers feel like they’ve hit the big time, while the front is comfortable and quiet and the car is jam-packed with the latest safety kit. 

Thanks to the ‘self-charging’ petrol-electric hybrid system, emissions are low compared to anything else that you don’t have to plug in, and the official figure of 55mpg from a 218hp saloon isn’t too bad at all.

10) Citroen e-Berlingo

Practical and sensible are the Citroen e-Berlingo’s watchwords, and the switch to electric power hasn’t taken anything away from the big and useful seven-seat interior if you go for the XL model. 

You’ll have to keep an eye on how far you go in a day though, as the e-Berlingo’s range isn’t its strongest suit. Officially you’re looking at up to 177 miles between charges, in reality plan for not much more than 100 to be on the safe side. 

We’ve described the e-Berlingo as the love child of an AA battery and a Swiss Army Knife, it’s not fast or agile, but can do a whole variety of jobs, efficiently and quietly ferrying combinations of people and stuff.

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