Best used cars with cheap road tax and insurance
If you need a used car with low running costs, then one of these second-hand options could be just what you’re looking for
While a low asking price plays a big part in a car’s overall affordability, it isn’t the only thing you need to bear in mind if you’re a motorist on a budget. How much the car will cost to tax and insure will also be a factor to consider when you’re putting money aside to keep the car on the road.
Opt for a used car with low CO2 emissions, for instance, and you’ll have a second-hand motor that sits in a low Vehicle Excise Duty (VED, or road tax) band. This will in turn mean you’ll pay less money per year than you would for a comparable car with a higher CO2 output.
Likewise, if you’re after a shrewd second-hand purchase, a used car that sits in a low insurance group will also be worth having on your radar. While the exact amount of money you’ll end up paying can vary depending on the make, model and the insurance provider you go for, as a rule of thumb insurance premiums will be smaller for a car with a low insurance group rating than a high one.
Because they tend to have low CO2 emissions and sit in low insurance groups, many of the most affordable used cars to tax and insure will typically be smaller models such as superminis and city cars. However, if you’d prefer something a bit roomier than that, there are also some larger family cars that don’t cost and arm and a leg to run, either.
Read on for our picks of some of the best used cars you can buy that are available with cheap road tax and insurance.
Because the previous-generation Ford Fiesta didn’t hold onto its value as well as some of its rivals, it means this supermini is generally a more affordable buy than some of its contemporaries. Factor in the car’s affordable insurance premiums and generally low CO2 emissions, and the seventh-generation Ford Fiesta becomes an appealing pick as a good-value used small hatchback.
The lowest insurance premiums you’ll find on a Mk7 Ford Fiesta will typically be for the 1.25-litre petrol models, which started off at a lowly insurance group 3 in the entry-level Studio spec. The CO2 emissions of 122g/km for this model aren’t bad, either – though, if you’re willing to spend a bit more on insurance, the 1.5-litre diesel and 1.0-litre petrol models may be of interest, as their sub-100g/km CO2 emissions means they qualify for free road tax. Regardless of which Ford Fiesta you go for, the car’s popularity when new means there should be plenty of examples to pick from on used car marketplaces.
City cars are typically very cheap to run, and the Kia Picanto is no exception to that rule. Both the current car and the previous version promise to have low insurance premiums due to their low insurance group placements, and low CO2 emissions help keep the tax bills down, too.
For the financially shrewd motorist, the 1.0-litre versions of the previous Kia Picanto (produced until 2017) could be the car for you. These models start off from as low as insurance group 2, and many models had CO2 emissions of below 100g/km so they’re exempt from road tax. There’s added peace of mind with the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty the car came with out of the box, which means even older examples with quite a few miles on the clock still have some of their original cover left to fall back on.
One of the big perks of fully electric cars is that, by virtue of having no combustion engines, they don’t produce any tailpipe emissions. As a result, cars such as the Hyundai Ioniq Electric don’t emit any CO2, and are therefore exempt from road tax charges. It helps, too, that recharging an electric car is typically more affordable than filling up a petrol or diesel car at the pumps.
Due in part to factors such as its larger size, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric may not be as affordable to insure as the superminis and city cars on this list – even the entry-level Premium models start off at insurance group 16. That said, this is on par like-for-like combustion-powered family hatchbacks – which, in quite a few cases, will cost more to tax than the Hyundai. It’s one of the cheapest electric cars to insure.
The now-replaced SEAT Leon makes a strong case for itself if you’re after a good-value used family car – after all, it’s a nicely polished and well-rounded hatchback that tends to be less expensive than a like-for-like alternative such as the Volkswagen Golf. It’s not just the asking price where the car holds up well as a low-cost prospect, as the Leon also brings to the table low running costs.
For drivers who spend a lot of time around town, the 1.0-litre petrol models in the entry-level SE spec appeal with their 107g/km of CO2 emissions, which helps keep road tax costs down. Likewise, this spec of SEAT Leon starts off in insurance group 13, so it should be quite affordable to insure. High mileage drivers may be better off with the 1.6-litre diesel, though – as well as boasting better fuel economy, it has CO2 emissions as low as 102g/km and starts off in the SE trim at an even lower insurance group of 12.
When it comes to insurance premiums, the current iteration of the Volkswagen Polo promises to be very affordable. On S and SE models with the 1.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet, this flavour of VW supermini sits in the lowest possible insurance group rating of 1. Not only is this better than many smaller city cars, but it’s also lower than the previous generation of VW Polo, which started off in insurance group 4.
The older VW Polo that went out of production in 2018 does have the edge when it comes to cheap tax bills, though. Thanks to their sub-100g/km CO2 emissions, the 1.4-litre diesel and 1.0-litre ‘BlueMotion’ petrol versions of this generation of Polo qualify for free road tax, and even the more polluting models sit in low vehicle excise duty bands so aren’t costly to tax, either.
The Skoda Citigo is a car we rate very highly here at Carbuyer – after all, we crowned it our favourite city car in the 2017 Carbuyer Awards. As well as being a great all-round urban runabout, the Skoda Citigo promises to be an affordable car to use everyday, thanks to its low running costs.
If you want the most affordable insurance premiums possible, opt for either the S or SE version, as these start from insurance group 1. Go for a car built before 2017, and the low CO2 emissions makes the Citigo very cheap to tax, too. It’s also worth mentioning the fully electric Skoda Citigo-e model, which is exempt from road tax entirely, though it is more expensive to buy and insure than a like-for-like petrol Citigo.
When it launched, the Citroen C4 Cactus was the latest in a long line of quirky cars from the French brand, though there was more to the car than its ability to stand out from the car. As it turns out, the C4 Cactus is a nicely-rounded and versatile family car, which we crowned our overall Car of the Year at the 2015 Carbuyer Awards.
As its presence on this list shows, the Citroen C4 Cactus also promises to be an affordable car to run. The 99bhp 1.6-litre diesel models promise to be the most economical of the lot, as Citroen quoted up to 83mpg for the car when new and there’s free road tax on models registered before April 2017. Diesel C4 Cactuses do start in insurance group 18, though, which is quite a bit higher than what the petrol models can achieve – for example, the 1.2-litre petrol version in the entry-level Feel spec starts off in a supermini-esque insurance group seven.
Do you fancy owning an all-electric family car, but can’t stretch your budget to the new Volkswagen ID.3? Handily, there is an alternative to be found on the used car marketplace, in the form of the Volkswagen e-Golf which went out of production in 2020.
While the e-Golf won’t necessarily be the most affordable family hatchback to insure (even the least costly model sits in the insurance group 19 bracket), it does promise to be far less expensive to run in other areas. By virtue of having no tailpipe emissions to speak of, the VW e-Golf is exempt from road tax, and being electric means the e-Golf will cost less to fill up per se than a petrol- or diesel-powered VW Golf. In other aspects, the e-Golf feels very similar to a Golf with an engine, and the boot is even the same size.
It may not have the efficiency-enhancing mild-hybrid and hybrid engine options available on its successor, but that doesn’t mean the previous iteration of the Nissan Qashqai is expensive to run. On the contrary, depending on the spec, it can prove to be a surprisingly affordable family SUV to tax and insure.
If it’s the lowest insurance premiums you’re after, the 1.2-litre petrol models in the entry-level Visia trim will be the one to go for, as this spec starts out at an impressively low insurance group rating of 12. Buyers after a low tax option with good fuel economy may find a fair bit to like about the 108bhp 1.5-litre diesel – while it’s more expensive to insure and isn’t amazingly quick, it has a low tax bill thanks to its 99g/km of CO2 emissions, and Nissan claimed it could return up to 74.3mpg.
As a bang for your buck family estate car, the recently discontinued Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer makes a very good case for itself. There are good amounts of space inside for passengers and their luggage and, because it didn’t have the strongest residual values, used examples can be picked up for a fraction of their original price when new.
Boosting the Astra Sports Tourer’s affordability credentials further are its impressively low tax and insurance costs. The least expensive Astras to insure will be the 1.4-litre petrols, which start out at insurance group eight in the entry-level Design spec, though the 1.6-litre diesel makes a more convincing case for itself. While it’s a bit more expensive to insure due to its insurance group 13 rating, it’s much more economical and, if you opt for an example registered before April 2017, it won’t cost you a penny in VED.
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