Cars with low road tax

Grab a used bargain with these cheap-to-tax cars that slash your road tax (VED) bills

BuyaCar team
Jul 26, 2022

Buying a car is always something of a two stage process. Sure you have to pay for the car, but you also need to get it insured and taxed before you can drive it. These costs can add up, and your final decision on which car you buy might well be swayed by how much it costs to run.

There are several ways you can go if you're looking for cheap car tax, the most obvious would be to opt for a zero-emission car - or an electric car - because they are free to tax (but you still need to fill in the form). The only balance here is that electric cars are more expensive to purchase than petrol or diesel alternatives, and often the savings you make on road tax and other running costs can take years to amount to an overall gain when all the chips are counted.

Alternatively, you could opt for an ultra-efficient petrol or diesel car and make similarly substantial savings on car tax while also making the most of handy used car prices here on BuyaCar. Cars costing under £20 per year in road tax are as cheap as £110 per month on BuyaCar.

If you're keen to keep your motoring expenses to an absolute minimum, these cars that are cheap to buy and also cheap to run are likely to be your best chance of saving some cash. We've laid out all the numbers below to help you work out how much road tax you can expect to pay on your next car, along with some of our top choices for used cars with low road tax.

Cars with cheap tax

1. Toyota Prius

Our pick Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-h
Used deals from £13,999
Monthly finance from £234*

The Toyota Prius is the car that brought hybrid motoring to the masses. It set out trying to answer the question of how to cut emissions around town before most people had time to ask it. Pre-2017 models emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and therefore pay zero road tax. Newer models will cost £155 per year to tax.

Toyota did manage to get the latest generation of Prius out of the door before the changes to the tax system came, though. This means that you can scoop up an early example of one of the latest models if you search carefully and save yourself that nnual tax fee – which you can put towards your petrol bills. The same car, but tax-free!


2. BMW 330e

Our pick BMW 330e
Used deals from £16,200
Monthly finance from £329*

You can have your cake and eat it with the the plug-in hybrid model from the BMW 3 Series range - the 330e. You get a cracking looking saloon that's decent to drive and comes with low road tax to boot. This is all thanks to the ‘e’ in the name - it signifies that the 3 Series has a plug-in hybrid powertrain, meaning there's battery power and an electric motor to boost fuel economy as well as power. The result is a car you pay zero tax on.

The claimed economy for previous-generation versions (which are tax-free) is 134.5mpg, which while impressive will be almost impossible to achieve in the real world. To get anywhere near that you will need to charge the 330e up as often as possible, as the more you use you the batteries to power you down the road, the less fuel the engine will use.


3. Volkswagen Up

Our pick Volkswagen Up 1.0
Used deals from £6,385
Monthly finance from £145*

The Volkswagen Up is one of the most grown-up city cars you can get, providing the low costs and easy-to-drive plus points of most city cars while adding the feeling of being a much bigger car.

The Up is surprisingly big inside, and can seat four adults without proving too close to comfort for all but the most friendly of friends. It’s agile, fun, and easy to park too.

'Take Up' models registered before 1 April 2017 will set you back just £20 to tax for the year. Expcet an annual charge of £165 for newer models.


4. Vauxhall Astra

Our pick Vauxhall Astra 1.0 Turbo
Used deals from £8,106
Monthly finance from £171*

Like the Ford Fiesta on this list, Vauxhall’s 1.0-litre engine uses a turbocharger to make the car as powerful as older 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines, while keeping the high fuel economy and low emissions of a 1.0-litre when driven gently.

The Astra is one of the best all-round family hatchbacks, due to its high comfort levels and space inside. Tech Line models have sat-nav, heated front seats and alloy wheels, making them feel well equipped for the money.


5. Citroen C4 Cactus

Our pick Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 PureTech
Used deals from £7,695
Monthly finance from £159*

Just look at it. Not only do used Citroen C4 Cactus’ get you cheap tax, but they also come with those funky plastic bubbles on the sides, known as 'Airbumps'. Newer versions of the car ditch some of the plastic patches, so if you like them, a used Cactus is for you.

These characterful Citroens really stand out on the road, even in a sea of other crossovers. Not only is it quirkier than most competitors, it’s more comfortable than them too, focusing on providing a relaxing rather than a sporty drive. The front seats are like armchairs, and if you opt for an automatic gearbox it’s almost like driving an armchair.

The latest, re-designed C4 comes with petrol and Euro 6d-compliant diesel engines as well as an electric version which means zero road tax.


6. Lexus IS

Our pick Lexus IS 300h
Used deals from £15,400
Monthly finance from £327*

Sports cars and low emissions go together like an overflowing egg mayonnaise sandwich and a first date. However, for those who want cheap tax, and a somewhat sporty drive, there are a few options.

The Lexus IS 300h F-Sport is the most obvious. It has a 2.5-litre petrol engine, plus an electric motor, which together produce 223hp and provide a 0-62mph time of 8.4 seconds.

It looks the part too with its aggressive and sharp lines, and it’ll be comforting to know that Lexus always places well in the most reliable car lists, so it should prove an easy used car to live with.


7. Mercedes C-Class

Our pick Mercedes C220d
Used deals from £13,816
Monthly finance from £201*

The Mercedes C-Class is a well-established comfortable and high-tech saloon. The 220d model that strikes the best balance in the range between speed and running costs. The Sport specification gets sat-nav, a reversing camera, plus heated leather seats.

Something to keep in mind is the potential for diesel car surcharges in the future. A vast majority of diesels registered before September 2015 already have to pay a daily charge to enter central London, with an increasing number of cities looking to introduce emission charging. Therefore, if this concerns you and you're looking at diesel models, it's worth hunting down a model that meets 'Euro 6' emissons standards to protect yourself against further charges in the near future. If you're unsure, check the vehicle specification or contact a Mercedes garage to check.


8. Fiat Panda

Our pick Fiat Panda 1.2
Used deals from £4,500
Monthly finance from £143*

The Fiat Panda is cheap to run, has a practical interior, and has an utilitarian air to it which many people will appreciate. Inside, there are 14 storage cubby holes, which is a truly epic amount in a small car.

This practicality is great if you regularly carry lots of little things, or generally treat your car as a storage bin. The Panda is quite tall for a car of this size too, which means there’s plenty of room for tall passengers, even in the rear.

It has soft suspension that makes it soak up potholes well, and is pretty comfortable. The 1.2-litre engine in question is slow, but relatively economical meaning you shouldn't have to fill it up too often.


9. Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost
Used deals from £7,000
Monthly finance from £158*

The Ford Fiesta has been the best selling car in the UK for years and years and years. Ford’s 1.0-litre 'EcoBoost' petrol engines are economical and powerful enough for most situations, plus it’s one of the cheapest cars with an automatic gearbox.

It offers the same sort of power as a traditional 1.4-litre or 1.6-litre engine, with the lower running costs and emissions of a 1.0-litre. It’s a brilliant little engine and the one to go for when picking a Fiesta, even if these models are a little more expensive than the older, slower, and less efficient 1.25-litre model cars.


10. Skoda Superb

Our pick Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI
Used deals from £13,999
Monthly finance from £254*

Few cars can touch the Skoda Superb for all-round capability. It blends serious practicality with an upmarket vibe, and it’s supremely comfortable too. Best of all, new and used prices make it great value for money.

While the smaller engined models qualify for an even lower tax band, models with the 2.0-litre diesel offer a great blend of performance and economy. There is plenty of room up front and in the back, along with a large boot.

As with the other diesels on this list, it could be subject to diesel surcharges like London's ULEZ, so keep that in mind when evaluating your options and focus on September 2015-on cars to give yourself the best chance of being able to bypass these charges.


Cheap cars to tax

The government updated the road tax rules in 2017, meaning that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) (that's what the government calls car tax) was increased for all new cars registered since April 1 2017. Brand new cars that were previously only £20 a year to tax, suddenly jumped to at least £155 a year as a result, a figure that has since increased.

While the old system uses CO2 emissions to calculate tax, the current system uses that same calculation to determine a cars' first year tax figure only - this can vary from £0 to more than £2,000. Petrol and diesel cars registered since the rule change are taxed according to their fuel type and initial price.

It's worth checking out our guide to car tax to estimate how much you can expect to pay on your new car.

*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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