Best cars with £30 road tax
Road tax can cost hundreds, but great cars of all sizes can cost as little as £30 per year to tax. Check out some of the best options here
With things getting more expensive, driving a car with £30 road tax is an excellent way to keep unnecessary motoring costs down. There has been a lot of change in recent years as to the grouping of cars into road tax bands, along with changes in how cars are tested for emissions. There are two golden rules to follow when trying to find cars that are cheap to tax each year.
The first thing to look for is a car that was registered before (and not including) 1st April 2017 but after 1st March 2001. The second rule is that cars must emit between 111 and 120g/km of CO2 of driving to fall into the £30 tax band. A car’s official CO2 emissions are normally shown in adverts, but these figures are often nestled away in a ‘technical specification’ section. You can use BuyaCar's search filter to narrow this down, too.
Due to the number of factors that impact a car’s CO2 emissions, it's common for different versions of the same model to sit in different road tax bands. You might have one version of a car that emits enough to make it £30 a year to tax, but that same model with bigger wheels might just tip it over the scales. The next band above the £30 per year one costs £130 per year, so it's a pretty significant increase. On the flip side, different versions of the same car might cost just £20 per year to tax. Check out our separate article on the best cars that cost £20 to tax here.
Below are eight of the best cars that qualify for £30 per year road tax. They range from a small, fun convertible to a large and practical estate. What they all have in common is that there are plenty available to order second-hand online, and they should all be available for under £20,000.
Cars with £30 road tax
The previous generation of Skoda Octavia - which was in production from 2013 to 2020 - is a superbly practical and affordable car. There are hatchback and estate body styles to choose from but both offer lots of space for passengers and luggage. To put things into perspective, the Octavia is comparable in price to cars such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, yet it offers cabin space more akin to larger models such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat.
Octavias that qualify for £30-per-year tax aren’t simply mundane, low-specification cars. They include Skoda’s high-performance vRS diesel models. The 2.0-litre diesel engine offers a strong 184hp power output and can get from 0 to 62mph in a brisk 8.1 seconds. Such acceleration won’t trouble more serious performance cars, like the Honda Civic Type R, but the Skoda is far more affordable to run - especially with regards to road tax and fuel bills.
The Kia Sportage has become a common sight on UK roads, and it topped the top 10 best-selling car charts for several years in a row, as has the model that replaced it. Part of its success is down to Kia’s incredibly long warranty, which runs for seven years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first). Even if you go for a four-year-old model, therefore, you still have three years of manufacturer warranty cover remaining, which is the same as comes with most new cars.
This means that Kia is prepared to stand by the reliability of its models for more than twice as long as BMW, Audi and Mercedes, which will require you to pay extra if you want an extended manufacturer warranty. On top of a long warranty, the Sportage also comes with a good level of standard equipment, making it feel like you get a huge amount of car for the money here.
To get a Sportage that is £30 a year to tax, you'll need to pick a fourth-generation model with a 1.7-litre diesel engine. These were launched in 2016 and as the £30 tax band was scrapped in March 2017, there is only a short window of models to aim for. You'll want to look for a model which has either a ‘16’, ‘66’ or ‘17’ number plate, though bear in mind that 17-reg models would have to be registered before 1 April 2017 to fall into the £30 band.
When it comes to small, fun and affordable cars, the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta were two of the best-selling models in the UK when they were new, before SUVs and crossovers overtook them in popularity. They are both excellent little cars, with the Fiesta proving a little more fun to drive for keen drivers, but the Corsa often offering better value second-hand. The Corsa we're talking about here was in production from 2014 to 2020. There are several petrol Corsas that fall into the £30-per-year tax band.
These engines should be relatively economical, with the smallest being a 1.0-litre turbocharged unit - with the turbocharger enabling the engine to offer an improved mix of power and fuel economy - with the largest being a non-turbocharged 1.4-litre. It is the smallest engine that gets our recommendation, as it suits both urban and rural driving better than the other options, while it is still impressively economical.
There is a broad range of trim levels to choose from, although there are so many and working out which is the best for you can be confusing. To make things simple, aim for an Elite or SRi model, as these typically offer a good balance of affordability and equipment.
Our pick Mazda 6 Tourer 2.2d Sport Nav+
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The Mazda 6 Tourer is one of the unsung heroes of the motoring world - especially when considering everyday cars that are both affordable, practical and desirable. This is because the 6 is relatively cheap to run, well-equipped and well-built. It is also surprisingly good fun to drive should you find yourself on a particularly twisty road. The ‘Tourer’ is the estate version of the 6, meaning that you get much greater access to the boot, thanks to a large hatchback, which makes it easier to load big items into the car.
Practicality is one of the Mazda 6’s strong suits, especially in Tourer guise, as the boot is huge. If you have kids, a large dog or simply can't travel light whenever you go on a trip, the 6 has you covered. To find a Mazda 6 that is £30 a year to tax, you need to narrow your search down to diesel models that come with the 150hp 2.2-litre diesel engine. There is also a 175hp 2.2-litre diesel version, but this only costs £30 per year to tax in saloon form, so you'll want to stick to the less powerful engine if you're after a low-tax estate version.
As desirable crossovers go, the previous-generation Audi Q3 is amongst the most popular. It has a classy interior, it feels well-built and there is a range of appealing engines and gearboxes to choose from. For £30-per-year road tax, you will need to go for a 2.0-litre diesel model with 150hp. If you would like the extra grip of four-wheel drive, look for Q3 models with ‘Quattro’, as this is the name of Audi’s four-wheel-drive system, though bear in mind that the extra weight and complexity of this system might bump the Q3 into a higher tax band.
You will find a good choice of trims to select from, with SE, Sport and S line versions all qualifying for the low rate of road tax. If you want a conservatively styled Q3 then SE or Sport models are a great option, while S line spec adds a dash of sporty styling. Inside the Q3 there is plenty of space up front and the two outer seats in the rear will easily cater for adults. The middle seat is less comfortable for larger passengers, as there is a hump in the floor, although this is a drawback for many cars this size.
Often people carriers like the Ford C-Max are labelled as practical but boring. In the case of the C-Max, though, this is simply not true. Yes, it is practical, but it is also fun to drive along a twisty road. Meanwhile, the boot is able to carry a decent 471 litres of luggage.
This is slightly down on some rivals, but it is much better than similarly sized hatchbacks, such as the Volkswagen Golf, which offers only 381 litres. Certain C-Max models also come with rear seats that can be independently slid forwards and back, which is great for managing the split between luggage space and passenger space.
Part of the reason for the Ford’s impressive practicality is its height. This also means there is plenty of headroom for rear passengers. Ford has offered the C-Max with a number of petrol and diesel engines but only a handful produce low enough CO2 emissions to qualify for £30-per-year road tax. We’d recommend one of the 1.0-litre petrol 'EcoBoost' engines as these are great for nipping around town but powerful enough to make light work of motorway journeys.
Despite the A6 being large and luxurious - even in this previous-generation format - you can still tax some models for as little as £30 per year. The best part is that the A6 models which qualify are incredibly frugal diesel versions, so fuel bills should be kept nice and low. The ones to look for are the 2.0-litre diesel ‘ultra’ versions. Depending on bodystyle and trim, A6 ultra models can qualify for either £30 or £20 annual road tax. Models that cost £30 include sporty-looking S Line versions, along with more reserved SE Executive models.
The A6 is designed to be a comfortable cruiser that can effortlessly cover long journeys - and it excels at this. For the ultimate long-distance capabilities, we’d recommend opting for an automatic model, as this gearbox suits the efficient diesel engine well, and helps to take the stress out of driving, making it an even more relaxing car.
Going for a fun cabriolet does not have to mean putting up with high running costs. The Mini Convertible is proof. ‘Fun’ really is the operative word here as everything including the styling, interior design and the car's agility around corners will work to put a smile on your face. While Mini Convertible models are classed as being able to transport four people, the rear two seats here are quite small, so it may be fun, but this isn't the most practical option.
When Mini launched a new version of its convertible model in 2016 it also introduced a new 1.5-litre petrol engine which produces a low enough level of CO2 emissions to qualify for £30-per-year road tax. All of these models come in Cooper guise but as Mini offers a lot of personalisation options when ordering a car from the factory, there should be plenty of colour and wheel combinations to choose from.
*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:
48 monthly payments of £192
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
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.