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
Apr 3, 2017

If you're buying a brand new car and want free road tax, then your options are restricted to electric cars that produce no emissions as they drive along.

But if you're not ready to plug in just yet, then you'll have vastly more choice with a used or nearly new model; there are dozens of these cars which won't cost you a penny to tax each year.

That's because the car tax system changed from April 1, removing most of the generous exemptions for vehicles with low carbon dioxide emissions. Before then, cars producing less than 100g CO2 per kilometre were completely free of tax, and the numbers that qualified had soared by 2016 to include sporty hatchbacks, people carriers and big estates.

As long as they were registered and on the road before April 1, these cars will continue to be dealt with under the old system, which makes them exempt from car tax. You can find some of the best below.

For dozens more alternatives, click to see all new and used deals on tax exempt cars

If you're prepared to pay £20 or £30 a year in car tax, there's even more choice. 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 adult passengers with lots of luggage

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. Read more

New and used Skoda Octavia deals

Our pick Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI CR 110PS Greenline estate
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £15,000
CO2 90g/km Fuel economy 80.7mpg



2. Nissan Qashqai

Best used tax exempt car for crossover drivers that need low running costs

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. Read more

New and used Nissan Qashqai deals

Our pick Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi Acenta
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £16,000
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 74.3mpg



3. Citroen C4 Grand Picasso

Best used tax exempt car for relaxing and enjoying the view

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. Read more

New and used Citroen Grand C4 Picasso deals

Our pick Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 1.6 BlueHDi Touch Edition
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £17,000
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 74.3mpg



4. Mini Cooper D

Best used tax exempt car for fun

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. Read more

New and used Mini Cooper deals

Our pick Mini Cooper D Hatchback 3dr
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £14,000
CO2 92g/km Fuel economy 80.7mpg   



5. Toyota Prius

Best used tax exempt car for economical town driving

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.

New and used Toyota Prius deals

Our pick Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Active
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £20,500
CO2 70g/km Fuel economy 94.2mpg



6. VW up!

Best used tax exempt car for small size and costs

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. Read more

New and used VW up! deals

Our pick VW Take up! 1.0 60PS Bluemotion Technology 
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £7,500
CO2 94g/km Fuel economy 68.9mpg


7. Jaguar XE    

Best used tax exempt car for style and sportiness

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.

New and used Jaguar XE deals

Our pick Jaguar XE Portfolio 2.0D 163PS Manual
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £23,000
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 75mpg



8. Ford Mondeo

Best used tax exempt car for long-distance driving

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. Read more

New and used Ford Mondeo deals

Our pick Ford Mondeo Zetec 1.5 TDCi ECOnetic
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £17,000
CO2 94g/km Fuel economy 78.5mpg



9. Vauxhall Astra

Best used tax exempt car for efficiency without compromises

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. Read more

New and used Vauxhall Astra deals

Our pick Vauxhall Astra Design 1.0i ecoFLEX
Typical BuyaCar prices 2016 car £10,250
CO2 99g/km Fuel economy 65.7mpg



10. BMW 3 Series

Best used tax exempt car for low company car tax

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. Read more

New and used BMW 3 Series deals

Our pick BMW 330e SE
Typical prices 2016 car £28,000
CO2 44g/km Fuel economy 148.7mpg



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