ULEZ-compliant vans that don't cost the Earth

London's low emissions zone can cost van drivers £250 a month, so use that cash for a new van that costs less than that.

BuyaCar team
Jul 27, 2021

Van drivers are among the hardest hit by London's new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which is a tougher version of the T-Charge, designed to reduce harmful emissions in the capital.

Tougher rules mean tougher levies - those with the most polluting vans will pay £12.50 a day, and unlike the T-Charge, it will run for seven days a week and 24 hours a day. It will affect most vans made before September 2016, which fail to meet emissions standards known as Euro 6.

At the moment, the charging area only covers the Congestion Zone, in the centre of London. But from October 2021, it will expand, becoming ten times larger, covering most of the capital from inside of the North and South Circular roads.

Non-London drivers aren't necessarily immune either. Other cities are planning to establish clean air zones. Many will include charges for driving older and more polluting vans.

If your diesel van doesn't meet the Euro 6 standard (you'll often find it on your vehicle's registration document), then the cost of low emission zones can add up alarmingly quickly.

  • Drive into London five days a week and you'll be paying £12.50 per day
  • That equates to which is £62.50 a week
  • It's also £250 each month.

This is just the cost to drive into central London, and comes on top of the Congestion Charge, which adds a further £11.50 per day.

For most van owners, that £250 could be spent more wisely. It could cover the monthly finance payments for a van that conforms to the rules, making it pay for itself. You're also likely to get better fuel economy and improved reliability from a more modern vehicle, so it could make a lot of sense to kick your old van to the kerb.

With that in mind, these are the best vans that cost less than ULEZ.

Vans that cost less than ULEZ

1. Vauxhall Corsavan

Our pick Vauxhall Corsavan CDTI Ecotec
Loadspace 920 litres 
Payload 519kg
Fuel economy 73mpg - 85.6mpg
CO2 emissions 94g/km

The humble car-derived van has a lot going for it. Apart from the windows, it looks much the same as a regular hatchback, and drives like one too.

This means the Corsavan is pretty much the same as the excellent Vauxhall Corsa, except that it has more space in the rear, as the rear seats have been ripped out. The load-lugging ability may be tiny when compared to some vans on this list, however, for the £250 budget, you can get a relatively new one, with plenty of warranty left.

2. Renault Kangoo

Our pick Renault Kangoo 1.5 dCi
Latest Renault Kangoo deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £218
CO2 emissions
Loadspace 3,000 litres
Payload 650kg
Fuel economy 53mpg - 61.4mpg

You’ve probably seen hundreds of these nipping in and out of traffic over the years. There’s a reason for that - the Kangoo’s no thrills ethos suits the sensibilities of suits in accounts, as well as sole traders.

The good news is that they have efficient and economical engines, plus, the fact that they’re so popular means there are plenty on the market.

3. Ford Transit Connect

Our pick Ford Transit Connect 1.5 Ecoblue
Latest Ford Transit Connect deals from £10,496
Monthly finance from £253CO2 emissions
Loadspace 2,900 litres
Payload 993kg
Fuel economy 60.1mpg

Agile, stylish, and small enough to squeeze in and out of big city traffic jams. The Transit Connect, the smallest of the Transit range, fuses car style (alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights) with the practicality of a van.

Your £250 budget will stretch to a van with a myriad of options, including one-year-old models with less than 20,000 miles on them. For this budget, expect a van with Ford’s excellent SYNC 3 entertainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

4. Peugeot Partner

Our pick Peugeot Partner 1.6 BlueHDI
Latest Peugeot Partner deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £212
CO2 emissions 112g/km 
Loadspace 3,300 litres
Payload 854kg
Fuel economy 55.4mpg-74.3mpg

You can file the Peugeot Partner under basic, sturdy, and economical transport. Plus you can get it in petrol or diesel variants, as well as in different wheelbases.

The Longer L2 versions are less popular, more expensive, and rarer too. Don’t let that put you off though - for £250 a month there are hundreds of regular wheelbase Partners on offer.

5. Volkswagen Transporter

Our pick Volkswagen Transporter 2.0 TDI BMT TDI 150
Latest Volkswagen Transporter deals from £20,000
Monthly finance from £443
CO2 emissions 125g/km
Loadspace 5,800-9,300 litres
Payload 692-1221kg 
Fuel economy 29.7-47.1mpg

The Transporter is one of the finest and most versatile vans on the market. It's reliable with a proven track record, and offers fantastic value for money considering that there is a loadspace of at least 5,800 litres.

The £250 budget is right on the limit, but you can find Volkswagen Transporters that won’t cost to enter the ULEZ for this amount.

6. Nissan NV200

Our pick Nissan NV200 1.5dCi
CO2 emissions 131g/km
Loadspace 4,200 litres
Payload 728kg
Fuel economy 53.3mpg - 55.4mpg

The Nissan NV200 doubles down on size. It might look compact, but it houses a massive payload capable of 728kg.

It has a couple of engines that can skip the ULEZ charges too. Both are 1.5 diesels, and while they’re not fast, they are frugal, and don’t require AdBlue - saving you more money. Spend a little more on your van, and you could save in other places too, like fuel, because Nissan phased out the diesel version of this van in favour of the electric e-NV200.

7. Ford Transit Custom

Our pick Ford Transit Custom 2.0TDCi
Latest Ford Transit Custom deals from £13,532
Monthly finance from £295
CO2 emissions 168g/km 
Loadspace 3,500 litres
Payload 1165kg
Fuel economy 43.5mpg

Once upon a time there was merely ‘the Transit’, whereas now there is a quartet of Transits. The smallest is the Transit Courier, the slightly larger Transit Connect comes next, while the Transit Custom is the one most people will recognise as a traditional Transit size. At the end of the spectrum is the gargantuan Transit.

The Custom certainly has all the hallmarks of a Ford van - it drives much like a car, has long maintenance schedules, and it’s reliable too. You get a lot of options for your £250 here as well - we’d recommend a post-2017 model in Trend spec.

8. Mercedes Vito

Our pick Mercedes-Benz Vito 111 CDI compact
Latest Mercedes-Benz Vito deals from £12,996
Monthly finance from £307
CO2 emissions 163g/km
Loadspace 5.5m3
Payload 897 kg 
Fuel economy 45.6mpg 

Yes really, a premium van in this price range. And while a premium van might sound like an oxymoron, the Vito certainly has a nicer interior than most others. You can even spec decadent options like heated front seats and a reversing camera.

This budget does limit your options to models that are generally around two years old, but they’ll still be ULEZ compliant and you’ll be able to find a long-wheelbase model for the money if you need something that can handle a big load.



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