Low-emission cars to buy in 2019

Improve air quality and use less fuel with low-emission cars

BuyaCar team
Mar 19, 2019

It's one thing buying an economical car, but there's more to think about if you're truly looking for a low-emission car.

Some buyers will be focused entirely on getting a car with low carbon dioxide emissions to reduce their global warming impact. There are also harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and tiny soot fragments known as particulates to consider. Both have been linked to respiratory problems and early deaths.

The obvious answer is to buy an electric car: with no exhaust emissions at the roadside, they have a minimal effect on urban air quality. There are plenty of used electric vehicles available from £7,475 on BuyaCar. Increasing numbers can go for 150 to 250 miles travel for over 150 miles on a single charge. They are usually more expensive than an equivalent petrol or diesel car, though, and you'll generally require a space to charge at home.

Fortunately, the latest petrol and diesel cars have really cleaned up their act. Regulation has improved since Volkswagen's cheating during official emissions tests was exposed, and so has the technology.

Newer cars are typically cleanest but it is possible to buy a clean used petrol or diesel car. In general, the used cars with the lowest emissions will be:

  • Modern (on the road for less three years or less) The newer the car, the more advanced its emissions control is likely to be
  • Petrol-powered Most used petrol cars produce low levels of harmful emissions, but drivers with high annual mileages may use much less fuel with a diesel and generate less CO2. Choose one that uses exhaust treatment fluid (AdBlue) for reduced emissions.
  • Hybrid Powered by an electric motor and petrol or diesel engine, these cars are extremely efficient - particularly in cities, but may be more expensive.
  • Efficient, with low CO2 emissions Every car has a CO2 rating, so it's easy to choose one that produces lower levels of this greenhouse gas. Business users will pay less company car tax too.

The Equa Air Quality Index publishes the results of real-world emissions testing, highlighting the cars with the cleanest exhaust emissions. You can see the latest results by clicking here.

New low-emission cars

If you are considering a brand new, or nearly-new car, the situation is different. New, much-tougher tests are being introduced, which examine the level of emissions that car produce in real-world driving. New cars currently have to meet a standard known as Euro 6d-TEMP, which involves real-world testing. Large numbers of new cars comply, and buying one ensures that the vehicle will be one of the cleanest on the road.

However, for the ultimate in low-emissions motoring (electric cars aside), opt for cars that meet the Euro 6d standard, which sets an even lower limit for harmful emissions in real-world conditions.

There are only a few petrol and diesel cars that currently meet the standard, but their numbers will increase quickly, as every new car must comply to Euro 6d limits by 2021. Diesel buyers will benefit most from a Euro 6d car, as these are exempt from the four per cent diesel company car tax surcharge, and also get cheaper car tax in the first year, than buyers of other diesel cars.

New cars meeting the Euro 6d standard

The following brand new cars meet the Euro 6d standard, and are on sale now. In some cases, only one or two cars in a range will be compliant. Others will meet a lesser standard.

Some models, such as the Jaguar XE, have been updated with the cleaner engines, so you'll need to ensure that the car you're buying isn't one of the older versions, which may not be Euro 6d compliant.

Low-emission diesel cars meeting the Euro 6d standard

Low-emission petrol cars meeting the Euro 6d standard

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