Best used tax exempt cars

Whether you're looking for a seven-seat people carrier or a sporty hatchback, there's a tax exempt car for you

BuyaCar team
Aug 30, 2019

They say death and taxes are two things you can't avoid but in the case of road tax, if you buy a car that was on the road before 1 April 2017, you won't pay any at all.

These cars are taxed under old rules, based entirely on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Cars that emit no more than 100g of CO2 per kilometre driven are free to tax.

You still have to go through the process of taxing the car but you don't actually have to pay anything.

Cars registered to their first owner from 2001 to March 2017 qualify and you can check the registration date of any car by asking the seller.

Most cars producing 100g/km CO2 or less are diesels, so it’s worth taking care to ensure that the money you save on tax isn’t swallowed up in future diesel charges.

The best way of doing this is to find one that complies with the current Euro 6 emissions standard. This includes every new car registered since September 2016 and many before this date. These cars will be exempt from low emissions zones, including London’s ULEZ.

If you’d prefer a wider choice, then paying no more than £30 in road tax opens up a whole new world of great low-tax cars. Look for cars emitting less than 120g/km CO2.

Read more on car tax rates

Tax exempt cars: don’t get caught out

  • Buying a vehicle with bigger wheels can increase emissions and make it liable for tax.
  • Zero tax cars may use expensive technology to cut emissions. It may be cheaper to buy a less efficient model and pay £10 or £20 in car tax each year.
  • Hybrid cars have low emissions but can be expensive. They are often most efficient for town driving.
  • Even if it’s exempt, you still have to tax your car every year.


Best used tax exempt cars

1. Skoda Octavia estate

Best used tax exempt car for luggage lugging

Our pick Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI CR 110PS Greenline estate
Latest 2016 Skoda Octavia deals from £8,899
Monthly finance from £143
CO2 90g/km Fuel economy 80.7mpg

The Skoda Octavia estate defies people’s expectations of a low-polluting car: it’s spacious, with five seats that can all fit adults, a vast amount of luggage space and decent performance. The standard 1.6-litre diesel car is tax free, emitting 99g/km, but more economical still is the ultra-efficient Greenline version. If the estate is too big, the Octavia hatchback is just as efficient and cheaper, too.

Skoda Octavia buyer's guide

2. Nissan Qashqai

Best used tax exempt car for low running costs

Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta
Latest 2016 Nissan Qashqai deals from £9,099
Monthly finance from £149
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 74.3mpg

Crossovers are meant to offer the low running costs of a family hatchback, combined with the higher driving position of an off-roader, and that’s what the this diesel-powered Nissan Qashqai delivers. It’s one of the most popular crossovers that you can buy, thanks to the smooth way it drives. There's decent fuel economy and free car tax when fitted with a 1.5-litre diesel engine and wheels that are smaller than 19in.

Nissan Qashqai buyers' guide

3. Citroen C4 Grand Picasso

Best used tax exempt car for a relaxing ride

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 BlueHDi Touch Edition
Latest 2016 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso deals from £9,598
Monthly finance from £155
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 74.3mpg

This Citroen is one of the few seven-seaters that qualify for zero car tax. Fortunately the lack of choice doesn’t mean getting raw deal, because the Grand C4 Picasso people carrier is a top pick. It’s comfortable and practical, thanks to its flexible seats and an interior pock-marked with storage areas. This version is a little slow - it’s best for driving at a relaxing pace and enjoying the view from the huge windows.

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso buyers' guide

4. Mini Cooper D

Best used tax exempt car for fun

Our pick Mini Cooper D Hatchback 3dr
Latest 2016 Mini Hatchback deals from £7,995
Monthly finance from £134
CO2 92g/km Fuel economy 80.7mpg

The Mini Cooper D proves you don’t have to driving enjoyment for zero car tax. It might be efficient, but it still feels like a Mini, with zippy acceleration and plenty of grip, so the car turns just as much as you need it to when you move the steering wheel. The three-door is more stylish, but the more practical five-door car is also tax exempt. 

Mini Hatchback buyers' guide

5. Toyota Prius

Best used tax exempt car for economical town driving

Our pick Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Active
Latest 2016 Toyota Prius deals from £14,495
Monthly finance from £143
CO2 70g/km Fuel economy 94.2mpg

The original hybrid is still one of the best. Toyota’s Prius recovers energy that would otherwise be lost while slowing down, stores it in a battery and then uses it to power the car at slow speeds and under acceleration. Official mpg figures are close to 100mpg. Its effectiveness and comfort - particularly in town - is evidenced by the Prius' popularity amongst minicab drivers.

Toyota Prius buyers' guide

6. VW Up

Best used tax exempt car for small size and costs

Our pick VW Take Up 1.0 60PS Bluemotion Technology
Latest 2016 Volkswagen Up deals from £5,400
Monthly finance from £97
CO2 94g/km Fuel economy 68.9mpg

Newly updated with improved technology, the VW Up is the best city car on the market, thanks to its spacious interior, that can fit two adults in the back without causing instant cramp. It's small on the outside and light too, so it only needs a small engine to buzz around town. The BlueMotion Technology model is the most efficent and cheapest in the range.

Volkswagen Up buyers' guide

7. Jaguar XE

Best used tax exempt car for style and sportiness

Our pick Jaguar XE Portfolio 2.0D 163PS Manual
Latest 2016 Jaguar XE deals from £12,306
Monthly finance from £194
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 75mpg

Pick this tax-exempt XE in Portfolio trim and you’ll have soft Windsor leather, a Meridian sound system and sat-nav in a car with an official emissions figure of just 99g/km. The XE has a well-judged balance of comfort, combined with agility, stability and grip in corners for a sporty feel. Performance is fairly average to keep emissions in check.

Jaguar XE buyers' guide

8. Ford Mondeo

Best used tax exempt car for long-distance driving

Our pick Ford Mondeo Zetec 1.5 TDCi ECOnetic
Latest 2016 Ford Mondeo deals from £9,099
Monthly finance from £151
CO2 94g/km Fuel economy 78.5mpg

Big on space but low on emissions: the Ford Mondeo’s 1.5-litre diesel engine isn’t just exempt from car tax, but the 94g/km CO2 emissions also help to lower its company car tax (just 1g/km more would have pushed it into a higher band). It's ideal for calm and quiet motorway journeys, and makes the hybrid version of the car seem unnecessary. 

Ford Mondeo buyers' guide

9. Vauxhall Astra

Best used tax exempt car for efficiency without compromises

Our pick Vauxhall Astra Design 1.0i ecoFLEX
Latest 2016 Vauxhall Astra deals from £6,850
Monthly finance from £110
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 65.7mpg

The Astra is yet further proof that you don’t have to spend a lot of money or settle for sluggish performance to reduce your car tax bill to zero. It's a well-priced family hatchback that's smooth and nimble in corners. Inside it's built to a high standard that'll be unrecognisable to anyone who remembers Vauxhalls a decade ago. 

Vauxhall Astra buyers' guide

10. BMW 3 Series

Best used tax exempt car for low company car tax

Our pick BMW 330e SE
CO2 44g/km Fuel economy 148.7mpg

The BMW 3 Series is already an expensive car before you add a colossal £8,000 to its price for the plug-in hybrid version. Fortunately, it loses value faster than most other BMWs, which makes it slightly more affordable as a used car.

You can charge it up so that it will drive for 30 miles on battery power before a petrol engine takes over. Motor and petrol can combine for swift performance, but its biggest selling point is CO2 emissions of 44g/km: that puts the car in the lowest company car tax band.

BMW 3 Series buyers' guide


Latest best cars & vans

  1. Best cars for golfers

  2. Best cars for executives

  3. Best cars for cyclists

What our customers say