Leasing a new car was once the preserve of business motorists, but for consumers it has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional car finance in recent years.
Walk into a new car showroom and you’ll find them offering PCH (personal contract hire) deals alongside the longer-established PCP (personal contract purchase) schemes. Additionally, there are also a host of independents, including the major business-lease players, all offering tempting deals.
Leasing can offer several advantages, particularly in terms of cashflow. Depending on the sort of car you’re loooking at, you will often pay less to lease a new car rather than buying it using a finance product like a PCP or hire purchase.
Most leasing products these days also include the option to include maintenance in the monthly payments, which removes the risk of big bills when you take the car for its annual service.
We won’t go into detail about the pros and cons of car leasing here, but if you’re keen to know more then check out our guide to personal contract hire.
So if you’ve added up the sums and decided leasing is for you, you’ll naturally turn to the internet for some answers. But you then face a new question – which car leasing operator should you go for?
The most important thing to remember is to ensure you are looking at PCH offers, and not BCH (business contract hire), available only to business customers. It’s also vital to be careful entering your details, particularly the annual mileage as it can make a big difference to your potential costs.
Different types of leasing sites
Leasing customers face a wide choice of providers to find the best deals:
- manufacturer leasing offers
- independent brokers and leasing companies
- comparison sites tracking all of them
Different leasing sites will offer deals on a range of models from different manufacturers, which means there can be considerable fluctuations in pricing on the same car. So, as always, it pays to shop around.
Overall, independents offer a great deal more choice than manufacturer sites, but prices are not necessarily cheaper and what might seem a choice of fewer offers on some sites can produce better deals.
There is no substitute for deciding exactly what you want and then spending an evening online, carefully trawling all the sites below and checking all the results carefully to ensure you get the best deal.
It can be highly confusing, but we reckon the following sites are worth checking out if you want to lease a new car.
URL: Go to manufacturer’s website
We like: All the backup and quality that comes with dealing direct with the manufacturer
We don’t like: Obviously you can’t compare deals on different brands
In recent years, several (but not all) car manufacturers have added personal leasing offers to their long-established business leasing services. Often it serves as a way of shifting large numbers of specific models, and to feed their used car forecourts with end-of-lease cars.
Leasing from a manufacturer comes with obvious advantages – you are effectively ‘cutting out the middle man’ by dealing direct, with all the front-line servicing and maintenance back-up. And surprisingly, comparing certain models across the market, the manufacturer deals were necessarily not the most expensive.
The biggest downside is a lack of choice. Manufacturer sites tend to offer just a few grades available, sometimes on cars that are less easy to shift off forecourts, and on by no means their entire model line-up. There’s also the other obvious drawback that you can’t directly compare cars from different brands side-by-side.
If you go to a showroom, they’ll happily provide you a PCH quote on any car in the range, in any specification, but it will often cost you just as much as a PCP on the same vehicle.
They say: “One of the world’s leading leasing companies”
Long-established as one of the biggest names in business leasing, LeasePlan also offers personal car leasing for consumers. The site includes a host of ‘hot offers’ as well as allowing you to seek out a specific car or price.
The most important first click is on the slider to ‘Personal’ rather than ‘Business’ – both sides of the site look very similar, with the same images, and it’s easy to go the wrong way.
LeasePlan is good at explaining how car leasing works: the site includes extensive information for first-time customers, including video tutorials.
Lots of extras are available as part of your deal, such as breakdown cover, insurance and maintenance, which can include tyre replacement. The site also includes more unusual offers, such as specific deals on Tesla electric cars.
They say: “The leading car leasing comparison website”
Leasing.com describes itself as the car leasing expert and is one of several comparison sites on the internet. The company doesn’t lease cars itself but acts as a comparison site for lease companies, enabling customers to compare deals and select the one that best suits them.
Having been trading since 2000, the site claims to have helped more than a million people find a deal, and it certainly offers a choice – putting in the specific criteria for our Mazda brought up 48 different deals, plus 25 for the Vauxhall. The rates were also cheaper than from the manufacturers.
As with most comparison sites, there is a huge choice of potential lease cars, from Renault to Rolls-Royce. And the Leasing.com site does include a number of tutorials, including a video explaining how ‘you’re in the driving seat’.
The first thing you see on opening the site is the usual fill-in menu to ‘find your perfect lease deal’, followed by leasing information, tips and advice, news and car reviews. Scrolling right to the bottom brings up the most useful section, quick links to specific makes and short-cuts to electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, low-cost deals and SUVs.
They say: “We do the leg work, you enjoy the ride”
Carparison presents a friendly and personal image to help you to sort out a lease car. For a fast, simple start you can enter your wish list details (starting, crucially, with ‘budget’) and then follow up with all their latest top deals, which show initial rental outlay and the monthly payments.
The company says it was launched in 2018 to fill a demand not met by existing leasing sites for sourcing quick and easy deals. The site majors on personal service with lots of smiling faces all over the site.
Personal and Business options are sensibly kept very separate – in fact one is in a black box and the other in white. Click on the button and you’re taken to a more detailed page in which to enter more details and requirements.
You can do a simple search for make and model and then narrow it down, or an advanced search with far more details, including whether the offer that tempts you is actually in stock (which is helpful, as not all deals offered in the leasing market are available immediately).
There are several interesting features and advice pieces such as ‘Leasing fees explained’, ‘How to order a lease car’ and even ‘Is leasing right for me?’.
Select Car Leasing
They say: “Drive a new car for less than you think”
Select is a provider of lease cars and claims to be one of the biggest, boasting 50,000-plus cars delivered in around 16 years of trading, and 21,000 five-star Trustpilot reviews as a result.
Each car includes all the usual information plus a useful review of the car, both in ten-second short form and a much more detailed version. Our sample search for our Mazda and Vauxhall brought up few choices but they were at very competitive prices.
One notable plus of the site is its Electric Vehicle section, accessed directly off the home page and as well as the latest deals including lots of information and reviews. On a more general note, there’s plenty of information about car leasing and whether it is right for you.
Select also currently promotes a price-match service, paying out £50 in Amazon vouchers if customers find a comparable deal at a better price elsewhere.
They say: “The UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace”
Auto Trader makes the most of its years of experience in selling cars to offer an extensive leasing comparison section on its site. The home page boasts the usual menu finder but majors on offering information on how leasing works. This is extensive, including video advice from former BBC Top Gear presenter Rory Reid.
The site will likely answer most questions a first-time leasing customer might have. There’s a good section showing reviews of some of the site’s latest cars too.
Once you feel you understand what you are after, the site offers a similar search engine to other comparison sites, narrowing down the deals based on the usual entries of model, mileage, monthly cost and such.
The deals on the site are good quality, Auto Trader claiming to source the best deals from the UK’s leading leasing providers, but there is not as wide a selection as on other comparison sites.
They say: “Do it the right way. Do it the Rivervale way.”
Established in 2001, Rivervale have grown to become one of the UK’s leading car leasing companies for both business and personal users.
As it is not tied to any car maker, Rivervale promises to find you any make and any model of car and its website features 35 manufacturers to choose from. There’s a simple slider to get you from Personal to Business quotes and back and a section high up showing the latest ‘Hot Deals’ currently available.
To find the car you’re looking for (your ‘Perfect Car’) you can choose to go one of four ways: manufacturer, preference (luxury, economical etc), car type or size, or budget (under £150 to over £500). From these it’s easy to follow the next drop down boxes until you find yourself with a pared-down list, whichever way you’ve arrived there.
The site is a bit one-dimensional to look at but there is a reasonable amount of car leasing advice on there plus some general features, tips advice and surveys.
They say: “The UK’s biggest car lease comparison site”
LeaseLoco is another car lease comparison site, and once you get beyond the odd home-page graphics recalling Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, the site has much to recommend it.
Chief among these is the score system. It uses a comparison algorithm to analyse the value of each lease deal and whether customers can do better, for example leasing an Audi A6 for the price of an A4.
The site majors on affordability – there is no home page make and model menu but a simpler one asking how much you want to spend each month. The site then seeks out the deals available, which you can narrow down by make, model, mileage and such like. One advantage of this is that having been tempted by one model of car, the site shows alternatives you might not have thought of.
It helpfully keeps Business and Personal schemes quite separate and the choice is wide, with both our Mazda and Vauxhall generating more offers than Leasing.com. And another neat feature is ‘dream garage’ enabling you to save certain cars and track their price movements, with notifications when the price drops.
They say: “Car people, not sales people”
Leeds-based Zen Auto is one of the newest of the direct-leasing firms, but is a subsidiary of the very long-established Zenith leasing provider, aiming to extend Zenith’s business-leasing clout into the consumer market.
A nice touch on the home page is an initial choice of three menus, based on whether you are not sure what you want, know exactly what car you want or exactly what you aim to spend. The search engine then seeks out deals based on these choices, which you can then further refine.
Entering our Mazda and Vauxhall brought up a similar number of deals to other direct leasing sites and at similar prices. However when we searched the site was missing too much information. It places great stead by its model ratings from car review site Parkers, but could not offer a rating for either of our chosen cars despite the Mazda, for example, having gone on sale more than a year ago.
They say: “Find an affordable lease deal on a brand new vehicle”
Leasing Options doesn’t have the most elaborate website, and the home page doesn’t feature advice pieces, features or videos, but it gets the job done. You can choose from a car leasing special offers section or scroll down further and get straight into the car manufacturers section – there are 36 to choose from.
Click on a maker and you’re taken to a dedicated page, describing a little about the chosen brand and drop down sections either go straight to a model or to a more elaborate search including length of contract, mileage and lease type. Hundreds of deals are displayed as you continue to choose, although the car pictures are squeezed so that they look odd.
There’s a useful ‘my garage’ section which allows you to compare up to four cars by price, specification or technical details on the same page. The search results outline all the details of each car such as length of deal, price, initial rental, side by side in a simple and helpful way.
They say: “I am Ling. You can trust me.”
There simply isn’t another car leasing website like Lings Cars. It’s brash, bold and colourful, and it simply has to be seen to be believed. Don’t believe us? Click on the link above and check for yourself. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Owner Ling Valentine clearly likes publicity and her picture appears all over the site. Describing herself as a “scruffy Chinese girl”, there is certainly nothing shabby about her business – she has leased tens of thousands of cars and has plans to expand further.
It’s not as easy to follow as the more disciplined sites and some of the script is small, but the information is there when you follow the usual drop down menus to find the car you’re looking for. Sort by model, price or deposit options, and there’s also a section for cheapest current deals.
Some of the car descriptions are fabulous: VW Golf Estate “Ein big Golf!”, Nissan Juke “Fast Jukie!”; DS 7 “Savoir Faire!”.
There’s not much in the way of car leasing explanation but there is a section on how the Ling system works plus some tips, and you do get a page of car quizzes and games. It’s a fun and slightly strange way to find a lease car online, but a highly successful one nonetheless.
*The Car Expert has a commercial partnership with Carparison and Rivervale. If you click through to their websites, we may receive a small commission. We do not receive any payment or commission if you proceed with any leasing agreement.
Additional reporting by Tom Johnston