Which cars are road tax free?

Are you looking for a cheap, reliable car that offers low running costs and best of all – no road tax? If you are, the chances are you’ve been directed in the direction of an alternatively fuelled vehicle such as a hybrid or electric car.

However, as technology advances, there is a growing number of conventionally powered cars – mostly diesel models – which are exempt from road tax.

Road tax in the UK is split into bands that are based on the official CO2 emissions figures from the cars. Any cars that emit less than 100g/km – grams of CO2 per kilometre driven – will be completely exempt from paying road tax.

For more about the road tax rates, including the recent changes to the bands, or to see how much you will be paying for road tax, take a look at our simple guide.

We have gathered together a list of ten cars with emissions below 100g/km. These are all powered by conventional means, so there’s no need to go investigating expensive electric technology just yet.

1) Seat Ibiza 1.2 TDI CR Ecomotive

The Seat Ibiza supermini was one of the first models to be given the Ecomotive signature – designed to show the models that house the Spanish manufacturer’s low-CO2 technology.

Fitted with a 1.2-litre diesel engine, the Ibiza Ecomotive is one of the best-performing conventionally powered cars in terms of emissions with a CO2 figure of just 98g/km.

Both the S and SE specification models fall under the sub-100g/km category and standard equipment includes cruise control, fog lights and an optional entertainment system.

The Seat Ibiza, well-known for its adventurous looks and responsive handling, also offers fuel consumption figures of 80mpg – a very impressive figure for a five-door hatchback.

This means theoretically the Seat Ibiza Ecomotive can travel nearly 800 miles without needing to be filled up, saving you money on fuel costs as well as road tax.

A Seat Ibiza 1.2 TDI CR Ecomotive can be picked up for around £13,500 for S level models.

2) Renault Clio eco2 DCI

As expected, smaller cars dominate the list of sub-100g/km models. In the case of the Renault Clio eco2 DCI 86, the old cliché ‘good things come in small packages’ is certainly true.

After 20 years of sales success, the attractive city run around is still going strong, and with no road tax to pay and combined fuel economy of 76mpg, cost-conscious buyers will continue to turn to the French city car.

The eco2 version – another eco signature – is even capable of 109mph where legal and is surprisingly able on longer motorway drives (when not being pushed by a lorry).

There are plenty of options to add to the Clio, including alloy wheels, cruise control and even metallic paint, showing it is possible to avoid paying road tax without sacrificing style.

Low insurance, running costs and starting price (£13,500) as well as no road tax – what more could you want from a city car?

3) Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTi 16V ecoFLEX

The Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX range has extended beyond the Corsa supermini to the likes of the Astra and even Meriva MPV.

However, the Corsa ecoFLEX boasts the lowest emissions out of the lot with 98g/km. The hugely efficient 1.3-litre diesel engine develops 95PS coupled with a five-speed gearbox is one of the greenest superminis available today.

Only three-door versions are available, but the Corsa offers up to 1000-litres of boot space with the rear seats folded.

The Corsa is one of the best-selling cars in the UK and enjoys a reputation for reliability and high build quality. Both the S and Exclusive trim levels are available for sub-100g/km models, meaning comfort and equipment isn’t a trade off for lower costs.

Vauxhall offers an impressive 100,000 mile warranty and insurance should be low, making it an ideal car for new drivers.

The Vauxhall Corsa ecoFLEX is costs about the same as a Seat Ibiza and Renault Clio at around £13,500.

4) Ford Fiesta Econetic 1.6 TDCi

The undisputed king of the small car sector in the UK, the Ford Fiesta is the best-selling UK car in 2010 with over 65,000 sold so far.

So it is no surprise to see a sub-100g/km version, bringing zero road tax to the popular Ford car. Carrying Ford’s Econetic signature, the 1.6-litre TDCI diesel emits just 98g/km and is available on both three- and five-door versions.

The low emissions have been achieved by using new technology such as a diesel particulate filter, used to filter out harmful particles from exhaust emissions.

Ford cars, particularly its smaller car range, are popular for a variety of reasons; unrivalled handling and steering responsiveness, high quality materials throughout, low running costs such as fuel and insurance and smooth, attractive designs all add up to create a class-leading car.

According to Ford: "we welcome any car that sets a new benchmark for the industry. That the Fiesta ECOnetic does so without any loss of driving pleasure makes the new model doubly welcome."

Residual values are also good, but the Ford Fiesta Econetic comes in at slightly more than the Corsa at £15,000.

5) Peugeot 207 Economique 1.6 HDI

The second French manufacturer to offer a sub-100g/km in our list, Peugeot has reduced emissions to just 99g/km in the 207 Economique model.

Both three- and five-door versions are available, while an Economique+ model adds extras such as air conditioning and a trip computer.

Peugeot has a reputation for good value but still stylish manufacturer and the Peugeot 207, its best-seller, has proved to be extremely popular with UK buyers.

The sub-100g/km model features fuel-saving tweaks to the exterior and an improvement of Peugeot’s already impressive efficient engine technology.

The result is 90HP and a top speed of 115mph, all combined with fuel economy just below 75mpg.

Peugeot’s Economique models start from as little as £13,000, with Economique+ models starting from £14,000.

6) Citroen DS3 1.6 HDI

The Citroen DS3 is a revelation in the small car market. Designed to be compact, premium and extremely customisable, it has fast become one of the most desirable hatchbacks on the market today.

It also comes in a 99g/km diesel version with an efficient 1.6-litre diesel engine delivering 90hp for models in the D-Style specification.

The DS3 is the first in the revived premium DS-line for Citroen, and signals a new move into more premium territory to compete with the likes of Fiat and Mini.

Fuel consumption and performance figures are on par with the other cars in our list, but the drive characteristics and fun, customisable options (even the roof colour can be specified – making each car unique) boost this car above competitors.

At £13,700, even entry-level models do not come cheap, but low running costs (74mpg) and expected strong residual values help to soften the blow.

7) Citroen C3 1.6 HDI Airdream+

The second Citroen model to offer sub-100g/km emissions, the Citroen C3 falls under the marque’s Airdream+ range, signalling efficient diesel technology.

The five-door C3 is a comfortable, well-built supermini designed with typical French flair. It’s also well-equipped with air conditioning, cruise control and power steering as standard.

The all-important figures include 99g/km of CO2 emissions, combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg and, of course, zero road tax.

As the cleanest model in the Citroen range and one of only two Airdream+ models (the other is the larger C4), the C3 is one of the main reasons Citroen boasts one of the lowest average CO2 emissions figures across its range.

The popular small car doesn’t suffer for the efficient engine, which delivers smooth but capable performance and a very little cabin noise.

The C3 Airdream is slightly more expensive than the DS3 at around £14,750.

8) Seat Leon 1.6 TDI Ecomotive

Seat advertised the high-performance Seat Leon Cupra R with explosions in the background of the first images released, and the Spanish manufacturer has forged reputation for sporty, exciting models.

It doesn’t stop Seat introducing a low-CO2 range in the form of the Ecomotive and two models with sub-100g/km emissions.

In the case of the Seat Leon Ecomotive, the sport styling remains and despite the 99g/km of emissions it still reaches 118mph and has a 0-62mph sprint time of 11.5 seconds.

Fuel economy isn’t sacrificed either, with combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg equating to an estimated 900 mile range without the need to refuel.

If you’re looking for a sporty, head-turning small car with five doors and low costs, the Seat Leon Ecomotive certainly can’t be overlooked.

However, its larger size and generous specification level means the Leon Ecomotive is priced from £16,750.

9) Ford Focus Econetic 1.6 TDCI

With emissions of just 99g/km, the Ford Focus hatchback is one of the larger cars offering drivers an exemption from road tax.

It is an exceptional car – perennially in the top three best sellers in the UK, the Ford Focus’ cleverly engineered chassis offers a driving experience virtually unmatched in its class and the high levels of equipment, build quality and reliability add to its plus points.

Throw in a 1.6-litre TDCI offering 74.2mpg and you have a perfect, cheap to run family car with excellent residual values and no road tax to pay.

The Ford Focus starts from £20,000 and offers a range of extras such as cruise control and alloy wheels.

10) Fiat 500 900cc

Although not available yet, the Fiat 500 will soon join the list of sub-100g/km models when Fiat unveils its astonishing 900cc two-cylinder petrol engine by the end of 2010.

The only petrol model in our list will also be offered with Fiat’s low-CO2 TwinAir engines from 2011, making it one of the most efficient and cleanest cars on the road.

Emissions will be a class-leading 95g/km and fuel consumption is expected to push 70mpg. Despite using just two-cylinders, Fiat says the engine will offer equal performance to engines with 30 per cent higher emissions.

The car itself is a modern classic. Named the world’s sexiest car by Top Gear ahead of various supercars, the Fiat 500 is a modern but retro city car with stunning looks and a personality of its own.

Expect prices from around £10,000 and there is also the possibility the engines will be offered in the Fiat 500C drop-top and other special editions.