Wondering what cars make good choices for private hire or taxi work? We’ve got 10 great options
There are around 200,000 Private Hire Vehicles, or minicabs, in the UK, and a further 58,000 taxis, many of which are conventional cars rather than being classic black cabs.
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. Toyota Prius
When the first Prius arrived in 1997 it was the darling of the motoring scene, beloved by Hollywood actors and A-list celebrities for its futuristic petrol-electric drivetrain, and the fuel-sipping nature that gave it great eco credentials.
Things are a little different today, with the Prius having become almost synonymous with minicab drivers. There are a few reasons for this, chief among which is the Prius’s amazing reputation for reliability, together with its strong efficiency, and the fact it can move around at low speeds in zero-emission battery mode – a real benefit given the amount of town driving minicabs tend to do. Plug-in hybrid versions and seven-seat ‘Plus’ models are also available, bolstering its appeal.
The Pirus is also a very smooth and easy car to drive, while rear passenger space is respectable. The new Prius has just been launched, and while Toyota has decided there is not enough demand for it to be sold in the UK, there are plenty of used examples of the outgoing model available through carwow.
2. Skoda Octavia Estate
Space. That’s one thing the Octavia Estate 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 640-litre cargo space dwarfs the room offered by most other cars on the road.
The Octavia also has a strong reputation for reliability, is pretty affordable to buy, and if you pick one of the frugal 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines, 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.
3. Volkswagen Touran
The VW 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.
4. Mercedes C-Class
As with the Toyota Prius, the C-Class’s maker probably didn’t intend it to be a popular car with taxi drivers, but its roster of talents makes this medium-sized Mercedes an excellent pick for cabbies.
Sure, you’ll pay more per month for a C-Class compared to an Octavia, but what you’ll get in return is a car that offers occupants a taste of luxury, without costing the earth to run thanks to the 1.6 and 2.1-litre diesel engines.
A new C-Class was launched in 2021, and while Mercedes may be focussing closely on hybrid and electric vehicles at present, the 2.0-litre diesel C200d is still offered, and officially returns 62.9mpg. Opt for a C-Class and you may even be able to pick up riders who have paid extra for a ‘premium’ car, potentially boosting your income.,
5. Skoda Superb Estate
The Skoda Superb does everything the smaller, cheaper Octavia does, only it does it better. So there’s more space, more comfort and more refinement, basically.
Yet while the current Octavia was launched in 2019 so is a thoroughly modern car, the Superb has been around for four years longer, so does without some of the kit, and has a slightly more old-fashioned infotainment system. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind, as the newer system has not been without bugs and crashes in our and others’ experience.
6. SEAT Alhambra
Like the VW Touran we featured earlier, the SEAT Alhambra is no longer offered from new, so you’ll need to head over to our used deals to pick one up.
Why should you? Well, the Alhambra is seriously spacious – more so even than the Touran – with seating for seven and a third row of chairs that adults can occupy in relative comfort.
Add in frugal diesel engines, sliding rear doors for easy access to the back and a pleasant driving experience, and it’s clear why the Alhambra should be on your radar.
The Ford Mondeo is yet another car that was once enormously popular, but has now fallen out of favour to the extent it is no longer offered by its maker from new.
What makes it a good private hire vehicle? Well, it’s comfortable, good to drive, comes with a decent amount of equipment in Titanium trim, and should prove pretty dependable. There’s also a hybrid version which, while not as ubiquitous as the Prius, offers the same fuel-sipping, emission-reducing benefits. Oh, and there’s also an estate if you want more space for fares’ bags.
8. Hyundai Ioniq hybrid
The Ioniq was an important car for Hyundai for two reasons: first, it pioneered a platform that could be fitted with a petrol-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric drivetrain, a formula that has since been repeated by a number of other manufacturers. Second, its name leant itself to Hyundai’s range of electric cars, with the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 now vying for sales with the best of today’s EVs.
But that’s of little consequence when you’re wondering what taxi to buy, and the Ioniq earns its stripes in this regard by offering similar qualities as the Prius: namely, it’s affordable to buy, uses little fuel, has a strong reputation for dependability, offers decent passenger space, and is a piece of cake to drive around town.
9. Ford Galaxy
One of the few full-size people carriers that’s still offered for sale from new, the Ford Galaxy may be slightly old-fashioned in its design, but underneath the bodywork there’s a thoroughly modern petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain
The Galaxy is a bona fide seven-seater, with strong interior space and even passenger friendly options like a panoramic sunroof. Add in the fact that its rather pleasant to drive, and you’ve got yourself a really appealing ride.
10. MG 5
Okay, so with a range of 250 miles from its battery, the electric MG 5 might not be the best choice for lengthy airport runs, but for cabbies in London it’s a good 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 aside from the hugely expensive Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, the MG 5 is currently the only electric estate car offered for sale, while it also offers serious value for money, and is pretty nice to drive.
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