Ask the Expert: What is the best used car that’s exempt from Ulez charges?

ulez charges - Getty
ulez charges - Getty

Dear Alex,

My wife loves her 2014 Nissan Qashqai 1.5dCi Acenta’s driving height, comfort and economy. She wants to replace it with a three-year-old car of similar specification, something that’s exempt from Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) charges, with zero road tax.

Her mileage is 10,000 a year comprising monthly 500-mile round trips and regular short journeys. What should we look at?


Dear RM,

The first problem is that request for zero tax – because any car registered after April 1 2017 will be subject to the flat-rate VED (road tax) rules that came in on that date, in which annual tax after the first year is no longer subject to CO2 emissions-based bands.

That means that whatever you buy, petrol or diesel, will cost the same to tax (currently £165 a year) unless it was more than £40,000 when new and so subject to the so-called “luxury tax”.

You can save £10 a year off that figure, however, if you choose what the Government refers to as an “alternative fuel” – basically, hybrids and electric cars. A full hybrid (one you don’t have to plug in) such as the Toyota C-HR would fit the bill – and the C-HR ticks many of your other boxes, too.

Mazda CX-5 Sport
Mazda CX-5 Sport

Go for Design trim to get the equipment you require. The 2.0-litre engine is smoother and a better cruiser than the 1.8, but marginally less economical.

You’ll also have the backing of a year’s top-up warranty each time you have it serviced at a Toyota main dealer, until it’s 10 years or 100,000 miles old.

However, you could also make that tenner back in fuel savings on long motorway runs with a diesel engine – especially if the gap between petrol and diesel prices continues to narrow, as it has in the past few months.

So I’d suggest you also look at the Mazda CX-5 Sport. It’s one of those rare cars that’s better in diesel than in petrol form. It drives brilliantly, is extremely comfortable on motorways, has a beautifully finished interior and is well equipped. Mazda’s reliability record is very good, too.

To read more Ask the Expert solutions, click here.