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 3, 2021

RDE2 may sound like a rejected character from Star Wars, but it is in fact an important emissions standard that could cost you hundreds of pounds per year if you find yourself in a non-compliant car. This means it pays to know the best RDE2-compliant cars as cars which meet RDE2 stand.

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 any 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 £12,250
Monthly finance from £0*

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’s name for an 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.


2. BMW 3 Series

RDE2 Compliant 318d, 320d and M340d models
Used deals from £10,900
Monthly finance from £306*

Those looking for a great all-rounder kind of car 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 that feature mild-hybrid technology. 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.


3. Jaguar XE

RDE2 Compliant Post-2019 D180 RWD automatic
Used deals from £19,250
Monthly finance from £0*

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.


4. Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes A-Class front three quarters view

RDE2 Compliant A200d and A220d
Used deals from £18,240
Monthly finance from £312*

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 your selected radio station through to your current 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.


5. Citroen C3 Aircross

RDE2 Compliant 1.5-litre BlueHDi
Used deals Limited stock

In 2020, Citroen declared that the entirety of its diesel passenger cars were now RDE2 compliant. This means you have the pick of the range, and we particularly like the C3 Aircross thanks to its practicality, overall comfort and likable Citroen quirkiness in regards to the styling. Another highlight of this small SUV is a 5-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

The 1.5-litre Bluetech HDi diesel engine should prove adequate in most driving scenarios - including motorway journeys. Acceleration is pretty smooth and there is a decent amount of low-down power to get you away from a standstill. Standard equipment includes a seven-inch display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, LED headlights and automatic air-conditioning.


6. Peugeot 2008

Peugeot 2008 front

RDE2 Compliant 1.5 BlueHDi 110 S&S
Used deals from £7,900
Monthly finance from £168*

A strong alternative to the C3 Aircross mentioned above is the Peugeot 2008. Being so closely related to the Citroen, the 2008 also boasts a 5-star safety rating - except for the base ‘Active’ model that does not have Autonomous Emergency Braking fitted - bold styling, generous space for both the front and rear passengers, and a generous amount of technology.

Another similarity with the C3 Aircross is the sole diesel option of a 1.5-litre engine. While it is less powerful than the petrol models, it makes up for this with a claimed fuel economy of over 65mpg.


7. Land Rover Discovery Sport

RDE2 Compliant D150 FWD manual
Used deals from £17,690
Monthly finance from £0*

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. On the plus side, however, it does claim the best official economy figure.


8. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport

RDE2 Compliant Post-2020 diesel models
Used deals Limited stock

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, in 2020, both diesel engines became 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.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

Buyacar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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