The top second-hand cars that are cheap to tax

Living costs are rising, so you’re probably keen to claw back as much money as you can from your day-to-day outgoings. Picking a car with cheap road tax is a good way of saving a few quid – and because these cars are normally frugal hatchbacks, you’ll also save money on fuel in the process.

Annual road tax fees are directly correlated to the amount of CO2 your car produces. The more CO2 your car’s engine emits, the more money you’ll have to pay for the privilege of driving it on the road. Drivers of the highest-emitting cars (i.e. those that generate more than 225g/km of CO2) will need to shell out £630 per year on road tax. Click here for a breakdown of the current road tax rates.

Naturally, you can get around paying road tax by making the switch to an electric car. Because they don’t produce any CO2 emissions as they drive, you won’t pay any road tax. However, EVs are very expensive to buy – even if you’re buying used. As such, they’re out of reach for most UK consumers, especially in the current financial climate.

The cheapest pure-electric Renault Zoes start from around £8,000, but you can pick up a high-mileage, petrol-powered Ford Fiesta for as little as £1,000. That’s a huge saving – and if you opt for the correct engine, you’ll only spend £20 per year on road tax.

There are plenty of affordable cars for sale in the UK with similarly low road tax rates if you’re prepared to shop around. We’ve rounded up some of the best on the market, all of which can be bought second-hand for less than £5,000. Every car here also costs just £20 per year in road tax.

  1. Fiat 500 (2008–2014)

Proof that saving money doesn’t have to be boring. The Fiat 500 is affordable, but it looks great and has a very stylish interior. It might not be the most characterful powertrain, but the 1.3-litre diesel engine is the pick of the range if you’re chasing outright efficiency – it’ll return upwards of 72mpg, while CO2 emissions are as low as 104g/km.

  1. Ford Fiesta (2008–2017)

You’ll find one of these parked on almost every street in Britain – and for good reason. The Fiesta is great fun to drive, easy on fuel, cheap to service and practical, which makes it a solid choice for families and first-time buyers alike. Ford’s 1.4-litre diesel engine is efficient, too, churning out just 110g/km of CO2.

  1. Skoda Fabia (2009–2014)

The second-generation Skoda Fabia is an honest and likeable motor. It isn’t the most exciting car here to drive, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything for this money which offers as much space and comfort. Prices start from less than £1,000 – and if you find can one fitted with Skoda’s 1.6-litre diesel, you’ll be rewarded with ultra-low running costs and cheap tax.

  1. Kia Rio (2011–2017)

Kia’s 1.4-litre petrol engine is a very impressive unit. It produces just 105g/km of CO2, which lands the Rio firmly in the £20 per year road tax club. There’s another reason for buying the Rio, though – Kia’s impressive seven-year warranty. So, if you buy one of the later examples, you’ll still be covered by the brand’s warranty for up to two years.

  1. Toyota Aygo

The first-generation Toyota Aygo was a bit of revelation when it was launched. It was the Japanese firm’s first go at making a European city car – and it delivered something fastidiously reliable and impressively efficient. The Aygo’s tiny three-cylinder petrol engine emits just 106g/km of CO2 and returns around 60mpg when driven carefully. Used prices start from around £1,500.

Honourable mention: Honda Insight

The Honda Insight was one of the first petrol-electric hybrid cars, pioneering the technology alongside the Toyota Prius. Electrification means it’s more expensive than the other cars in this list – the cheapest example we found was priced from £4,295, but prices can soar well past £10,000. That might put it out of reach for some buyers.

It’s a worthwhile investment, though. The Insight is much bigger than the other cars here, offering a larger boot and more space in the rear. But despite the added bulk, the electric portion of the powertrain keeps CO2 emissions down to 105g/km and allows the hatchback to scrape into the £20 road tax club. It’ll even return upwards of 60mpg.

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