The best used cars with free road tax

The best things in life are free, right? And while road tax – or vehicle excise duty (VED) as it's more appropriately known – is an inevitability for most, there are ways to avoid paying it.

You see, cars registered between February 2001 and April 2017 operate on a carbon-dioxide based system of road tax. Cars that emit more carbon dioxide pay more per year – simple. The real fun comes lower down in the range, though, as cars that emit less than 100g/km of carbon dioxide don't pay any road tax at all.

This was a measure introduced to encourage manufacturers to produce lower-emissions vehicles, and it worked – in fact, the system only changed in 2017 because so many new cars weren't paying anything. It means that for the used buyer, these models can be attractive and cost-effective. Here are some of the best used cars that won't pay any road tax at all...

Mini Cooper D

(Mini/PA)

The Mini may seem at its best when fitted with a perky, peppy petrol engine – but the diesel models are well worth a look-in, too. The 1.5-litre Cooper D is wonderfully efficient, especially on a long journey, and has enough performance to allow owners a lot of fun exploiting the car's playful chassis. But it also qualifies for free road tax. Perfect.

BMW 320d EfficientDynamics

(BMW/PA)

The BMW 320d has long been the default choice for a compact executive cruiser, and for good reason. It's equal parts relaxed and dynamic, capable of being enjoyed on a back road as much as it makes whiling away a long motorway trip easy.

Skoda Octavia Estate 1.6 TDI Greenline

(Skoda/PA)

If you want practicality then look no further – Skoda's Octavia may be the sister car to the Volkswagen Golf, but it offers as much passenger and boot space as cars from the class above. The 1.6-litre diesel engine in the tax-busting Greenline model isn't exactly the last word in performance, but it's smooth and torquey and more than a match for a fully loaded Octavia.

Kia Picanto

(Kia/PA)

Maybe it's obvious that the smallest cars on the market would qualify for free road tax, but city cars manage to do this with petrol rather than diesel power – ideal for those who cover mainly short journeys. The Picanto's one of the best of the breed, with great handling and a well-appointed interior. Best of all, the majority will still be under Kia's class-leading seven-year factory warranty.

VW up!

(VW/PA)

Though not all versions of the brilliant Volkswagen up! dip below 100g/km, the ones that do make a compelling case for city transport. The up! is one of the most practical city cars around, with genuine space for four adults. Best of all, it's also brilliant to drive – supple suspension and a remarkable degree of finesse for such a tiny car.

Citroen C4 Grand Picasso 1.6 e-HDI

(Citroen/PA)

It's remarkable that Citroen managed to get the emissions of its largest model, the C4 Grand Picasso, down to just 99g/km – but it did, and in doing so created a unique niche for the car as the only proper seven-seater that didn't pay road tax. It's also comfortable and for an MPV, particularly stylish. A good choice all round.

Toyota Prius

(Toyota/PA)

The Toyota Prius is the most famous hybrid around, as it truly pioneered the breed. The latest model – released in 2015 – is a strong contender when it comes to hybrid motoring, and it's particularly well-known for its smooth powertrain and incredible longevity.

Jaguar XE 2.0d

(Jaguar/PA)

You wouldn't think that an executive saloon car would also qualify for tax-free motoring, would you? It's the case with the Jaguar XE 2.0d, however. An excellent long-distance option, this will be a good choice for those who regularly undertake big-mileage journeys.

Fiat 500 TwinAir

(Fiat/PA)

Fiat's cutesy 500 may have been around for some time now, but that doesn't stop it from being a great choice for urban drivers. The TwinAir variant is another car which qualifies for zero road tax, and it's a relatively good-value option on the used car market too.

Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi Econetic

(Ford/PA)

Ford's Fiesta has been, historically, one of the best-selling cars in the UK and it's easy to see why. A great drive, plenty of equipment and a strong choice of engines make it a viable car for most. This TDCi Econetic version sweetens the deal even further thanks to, you guessed it, zero road tax.

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