Best RDE2 compliant cars

RDE2 compliant cars emit less harmful gases and help reduce your tax bills – and needn't be expensive. Here are some of the best

James Wilson
Nov 12, 2020

RDE2 isn’t a Countdown conundrum gone wrong, it's an important emissions standard that could cost you hundreds of pounds per year if you get stuck with a non-compliant car - which is why it pays to know the best RDE2 compliant cars. On top of financial implications, cars which meet RDE2 standards emit less harmful gases so they have environmental advantages, too.

Real Driving Emissions 2 (to give RDE2 its full name) is a test that all cars registered since April 2018 have been measured against. If a car emits low enough quantities of certain emissions (namely NOx or Nitrogen Oxides) to come under the RDE2 thresholds, it is considered RDE2 compliant. Petrol, diesel and electric cars are all measured against RDE2, but it is diesel cars which are penalised for not meeting the standards, due to them typically emitting the most NOx.

By penalised, we mean taxed. Since April 2018 the UK government has put additional levies on road tax and company car tax for non-RDE2 compliant diesels. For road tax, the first year is one band higher than normal, and, for company car tax there is a 4% Benefit-in-Kind increase. Confusingly, new cars do not legally have to be RDE2 compliant until January 2021. That hasn’t stopped manufacturers getting ahead of the curve by offering RDE2 compliant models ahead of this date, though.

Below are eight of the best RDE2 compliant cars available. Some models have been on sale for longer than others which means there are better second-hand bargains to be found. Also, not all diesel versions of each car are necessarily RDE2 compliant, so take note of specific engines where highlighted. Plus, some models were available prior to officially becoming RDE2 compliant - so make sure you double check whether an individual model is RDE2 compliant before signing on the dotted line.

Best RDE2 compliant cars

1. Vauxhall Astra

RDE2 Compliant Post-2019 diesel models
Used deals from £10,990
Monthly finance from £158

Back in 2019, Vauxhall became the first car manufacturer to ensure all its diesel models met the RDE2 standards, which is great news for Astra buyers as it means there are already plenty to choose from on the second-hand market. In a nutshell, the Vauxhall Astra is comfortable, relatively enjoyable to drive, well-equipped and decent looking. It can’t quite match the Ford Focus as a complete package, but it is a great value alternative.

For those in need of lots of cargo space, a ‘Sports Tourer’ is available, which is Vauxhall lingo for estate. There are two diesel engines on offer - both are 1.5-litres in size but come with different power outputs. The less powerful 105hp version comes with the best claimed economy but the more powerful 122hp one can be had with an automatic gearbox instead of the standard six-speed manual.

VAUXHALL ASTRA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. BMW 3 Series

RDE2 Compliant 318d, 320d and M340d models
Used deals from £15,961
Monthly finance from £234

Those looking for a Jack of all trades and master of most could well find the latest BMW 3 Series to be the answer to their prayers. It's desirable, very well made, great to drive, comfy and available with a cracking range of engines - including diesels which come with fuel-saving mild-hybrid technology. Plus, the media system puts most alternatives to shame. Of the diesel engines available, the 18d, 20d and 40d models are clean enough to be RDE2 compliant and avoid additional taxes.

As a rule of thumb, 20d versions offer the best combination of performance and economy, 18d models are for those looking for the lowest possible running costs and 40d models are for those after a blisteringly fast car. Standard equipment includes adaptive LED lights, alloy wheels, air-conditioning, a reversing camera and cruise control - meaning even entry-level SE models are worth picking up. There is the option to go for an estate and/or four-wheel-drive (xDrive in BMW speak) 3 Series, too.

BMW 3 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Jaguar XE

RDE2 Compliant Post-2019 D180 RWD automatic
Used deals from £18,898
Monthly finance from £288

Don't fancy a BMW 3 Series but want something similarly stylish and sporty to drive? One such car is the Jaguar XE - especially since updates in 2019 improved its onboard technology and ensured that D180 RWD versions are RDE2 compliant. Translating that last part into plain English, it means that recent 180hp rear-wheel-drive automatic XE versions are the ones that meet the RDE2 standard.

One area the Jaguar XE trumps its rivals is in driver enjoyment. Show an XE a twisty bit of tarmac and it will do its best to put a smile on a driver's face. Driving aside, the XE looks and feels special thanks to sharp design inside and out. Equipment levels are also good, with entry-level S models coming with alloy wheels, electric front seats, 10-inch touchscreen media system and automatic high beam headlights as standard. As a final note, the XE is made in Britain which might be important to some drivers.

JAGUAR XE BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Mercedes A-Class

RDE2 Compliant A200d and A220d
Used deals from £16,980
Monthly finance from £230

The current Mercedes A-Class is a world away from the original A-Class models. Above all else it has a stylish interior, which, in the right specification features one of the most impressive collections of digital displays in any car on sale - these show everything from what radio station is playing to your speed. The voice control system is also very slick. If you are looking for the latest in driver enjoyment, look elsewhere, but if you want a comfy cruiser that is full of tech then the A-Class is a tough act to beat.

Saloon and hatchback versions are available with a choice of two RDE2 compliant engines - the 200d and the 220d. In Mercedes world the higher the number the more powerful the engine, while ‘d’ signifies that a car is diesel-powered. 200d and 220d models are available from mid-range Sport trim upwards, and standard equipment is good. That said, the impressive twin 10.3-inch displays are part of an optional Premium package, so you'll have to pay more to get these.

MERCEDES A-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

5. DS 7 Crossback

RDE2 Compliant 2.0-litre BlueHDI 180
Used deals from £20,994
Monthly finance from £283

Many people have never even heard of the DS 7 Crossback let alone seen one. They could be missing out, though, as the DS 7 Crossback medium SUV offers a unique look and luxurious feel. Diesel models are all front-wheel-drive and available with either a 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre engine - although it is only the latter which is RDE2 compliant.

All 2.0-litre diesel models, badged as ‘180 BlueHDi’ come with an automatic gearbox, so there's no need to work your left leg too hard. When looking at equipment, things do get interesting as the DS 7 Crossback can come with all kinds of goodies - such as night vision sensors, a head-up display and a smart suspension system which reads the road ahead to adapt to the changing surface. Clever.

DS 7 CROSSBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Mini Countryman

RDE2 Compliant Cooper D
Used deals from £13,595
Monthly finance from £219

Modern-day Minis are far from mini, but the truth is this is great news for people who value legroom, cargo space and the ability to carry passengers who aren’t the size of mice. Such people might include those with a family, those who need to cart equipment around for work or even those who enjoy camping trips in the middle of nowhere.

Largest of all the Minis is the high-riding Countryman. Not only is the Mini Countryman spacious, but it is also fun to drive, which has been a hallmark of all Minis since the first model launched way back in 1959.

Similar to the rest of the Mini range, the Countryman has an interior like no other, carefully treading the line between fun and quality. There is just the one RDE2 diesel engine on offer (badged as Cooper D) but Mini does make two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions, although the latter is solely available with an automatic gearbox.

MINI COUNTRYMAN BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Land Rover Discovery Sport

RDE2 Compliant D150 FWD manual
Used deals from £29,548
Monthly finance from £440

The Land Rover Discovery Sport was revamped in 2019 and part of those changes included an RDE2 compliant diesel engine, making it one of the few RDE2 compliant seven-seaters. Being a Land Rover, the interior looks sturdy yet upmarket - also included in the 2019 refresh was a vastly superior media system that is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.

There is one slight disappointment, the only RDE2 compliant engine comes in front-wheel-drive manual form and produces 150hp. So not only is Land Rover’s legendary four-wheel drive off-road technology missing, but it is the least powerful diesel in the range, making it a little slow. Still, it does claim the best official economy figure of the range.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

RDE2 Compliant Post-2020 diesel models
Used deals from £17,995
Monthly finance from £277

Finishing off this list is the Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport. The Insignia Grand Sport is spacious, good to drive and economical to run, which are three huge things when it comes to considering a company car. Also, since 2020, its diesel engines (there are two) are RDE2 compliant.

Vauxhall is known for having sprawling ranges of trims which even Alan Turing would struggle to crack and the Insignia is no different. The current entry-level model, SE Nav, comes with plenty of kit but isn’t available with the larger, more powerful 2.0-litre diesel. As for gearboxes, Vauxhall offers both the 122hp and 174hp diesel engines with manual and automatic transmissions.

VAUXHALL INSIGNIA GRAND SPORT BUYERS' GUIDE

 

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