Best road-tax-free cars

Last updated: Aug 19, 2014

The current threshold for tax-free motoring is 100g/km of CO2, meaning any car that emits less than this is exempt from paying road tax. As a result, almost every manufacturer now boasts a ‘sub-100’ model, and it may surprise you to learn that many aren’t city cars, superminis or small family cars.

However, to feature on our list of the top 10 road-tax free cars, you need more than just a fuel-efficient engine and decent fuel economy. All the cars here are good to drive, comfortable over long distances, and great value for money, too.

So if you’re in the market for a low-emission car with an edge of desirability, then quite frankly your options have never been better. Keep reading for our rundown of the best tax-free cars on sale today.

Skoda Octavia estate

You’d be forgiven for thinking we’d made a typo here, but believe it or not, you can indeed buy the hugely practical Skoda Octavia estate and not pay a penny in annual road tax. You’re limited to the 1.6-litre TDI diesel engine, but that’s no bad thing. You’ll return 74.3mpg and emit only 99g/km of CO2, yet still manage 0-62mph in just 11 seconds. The Greenline version is new for 2014 – and drops CO2 emissions to just 85g/km, while returning a whopping 88.3mpg. Standard equipment is decent, and all models are good to drive. All things considered, it’s little wonder why the Skoda Octavia tops our list. Read more.

Key points

5.0 / 5
Price 
£17,115 - £28,665

Hyundai i10 hatchback

The only reason the Hyundai i10 isn’t sitting proud at the top of our list, is due to its size. It’s a brilliant car, but the fact that the Skoda is so much bigger, means the estate car takes the title here. However, if the Hyundai does take your fancy, be careful which you go for – as only the Blue Drive model is tax exempt. The little three-cylinder petrol engine is full of character and fun to drive, and while it may not be fast, it’ll do an impressive 65.7mpg and emit just 98g/km of CO2. Carbuyer’s 2014 Car of the Year continues to impress with its long list of standard equipment, comfortable ride and practical interior. Read more.

Key points

5.0 / 5
Price 
£8,595 - £11,465

Skoda Citigo hatchback

The Skoda Citigo was unlucky not to snatch second place on our list, but the slightly bigger interior and longer five-year warranty worked in the Hyundai’s favour here. However, read our review and you’ll quickly realise how competent the Skoda is, boasting a big car feel, with comfortable suspension, a high-quality interior and enough space for four at a squeeze. There’s a few tax-free models to choose from, but if budget allows, we’d go for the higher-powered 74bhp 1.0-litre engine, as it’s much better suited to motorway driving, while still emitting only 98g/km of CO2. Read more.

Key points

4.9 / 5
Price 
£8,210 - £11,045

Nissan Qashqai SUV

Like the Skoda Octavia estate, you may be surprised to find the Nissan Qashqai on this list. It’s our favourite crossover-SUV, and if you go for the lowered-powered dCi diesel engine, you can enjoy the benefits of tax-free motoring. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is a great engine. It’s got plenty of power, will return 74.3mpg, and emit just 99g/km of CO2. It’s available in a variety of trims, and unlike models such as the Toyota Yaris, fitting larger alloy wheels doesn’t have an adverse effect on the car’s CO2 emissions. We’d go for the mid-range Acenta Premium model for a decent compromise between equipment and list price. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£17,995 - £28,280

SEAT Leon hatchback

The SEAT Leon is based on the Volkswagen Golf and therefore boasts all the best qualities of that model, but with a cheaper list price and improved standard equipment. It’s great to drive, and almost every engine is cheap to run, too. If tax exemption is the key, then you’ll have to go for one of the 1.6-litre TDI diesel engines, with the most frugal Ecomotive model capable of an impressive 85.6mpg and just 87g/km of CO2. However, it’s quite a bit more expensive than the standard model, so unless you’re a company car buyer, the fuel savings probably aren’t worth the extra initial outlay. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£16,115 - £24,170

Ford Fiesta hatchback

The current Ford Fiesta has been the UK’s best selling car ever since it went on sale in 2008. There’s good reason for this, and it only takes a brief read of our review to find out why. Unlike most models in this list, the Fiesta is available with not one, but a variety of tax-free engines. Both the 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre TDCi diesel engines, as well as our favourite – the 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine – are exempt from paying road tax. If your budget allows, we’d go for the range-topping EcoBoost 125 with start-stop, which can do 0-60mph in less than 10 seconds. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £17,995

Citroen Grand C4 Picasso

A few years ago we couldn’t have dreamt of seeing a seven-seat MPV in this list, but thanks to its super-frugal e-HDI diesel engine, the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso is capable of just 98g/km of CO2. Ok, so it’s not exactly fast, but the fact that you can transport seven people in relative comfort, while returning more than 70mpg is something of a game changer. The Toyota Prius+ will return similar numbers, but it’s almost £6,000 more expensive, meaning it’ll take much longer to recoup any sort of saving. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£19,205 - £27,855

BMW 1 Series hatchback

The BMW 1 Series is our favourite small luxury car, beating both the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class for top honours in this sector of the market. The fact it is available with a choice of frugal petrol and diesel engines – including the tax-exempt 116d EfficientDynamics – only strengthens its class-leading abilities. The powerful but economical EfficientDynamics model improves on the standard 116d’s green credentials by adding more aerodynamic bodywork and more efficient gearing. It costs the same as the standard SE model, feels just as fast on the road yet will manage almost 6mpg more, and cost nothing to tax. Read more.

Key points

4.3 / 5
Price 
£17,775 - £31,375

Mercedes C-Class saloon

While the petrol and diesel engines in the new Mercedes C-Class may be a match for the BMW 3 Series, the hybrid takes the game up a notch, slipping silently under the 100g/km threshold for free road tax. It may be expensive to buy, but the Mercedes C300 BlueTEC SE diesel-electric hybrid emits just 94g/km of CO2. Even the sportier AMG Line cars come in under 100g/km, so unlike the Lexus IS300h, you can opt for the bigger alloy wheels and sporty stying without paying a penny in road tax. The icing on the Merc’s cake is it luxurious interior. While this may be a given in the market, the C-Class is undoubtedly among the best. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£26,855 - £38,120

MINI hatchback

If you feel you need to sacrifice driving fun in pursuit of low running costs and tax-free motoring, think again. The current MINI is one of the most fun to drive small cars on sale, and thanks to its range of turbocharged three-cylinder engines, both the MINI One D and MINI Cooper D both emit less than 100g/km of CO2. Neither feel slow, but if your budget will stretch then we’d opt for the more powerful Cooper D, as it’ll do 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and feels much faster on the motorway. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£13,750 - £21,070

Sponsored Links