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Top 10 ULEZ-compliant used cars

In need of an affordable used car that's exempt from London's ULEZ charge? Here are you best options, ranging from city cars to SUVs...

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by
Oliver Young
Published11 August 2023

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The ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) expands to include all London boroughs on 29 August 2023. After that date, your petrol or diesel car will have to meet certain emissions standards to drive within those areas, otherwise you'll need to fork up £12.50 on a daily basis.

Fortunately, petrol cars registered after 2005 and diesel ones after 2015 are generally ULEZ compliant – although it's always best to check the TFL website – so your pride and joy could be safe. If not, you might feel inclined to swap your car and for that reason we've compiled a list of the best ULEZ-compliant options from the used market, all of which can be found on our Used Car Buying pages. 

We've focused on affordable cars that thrive in urban environments, but there's something for everyone here – small cars, family cars and more. There's even a large SUV in the mix. But the best ULEZ compliant used car? That's the Skoda Octavia, and you can read more about it, and other great options below.

Read more: Best electric cars

Our pick: 1.5 TSI 150 SE L 5dr

0-62mph: 8.5 sec
MPG/range: 53.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 121g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 600 litres
Insurance group: 21P

Strengths

  • Smart, spacious and practical interior
  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Well equipped

Weaknesses

  • Not as comfortable as a Golf
  • Pricier models best avoided
  • Entry-level S trim is a bit basic

If you choose a car like Goldilocks picks a bed, you should find the Skoda Octavia just right. First of all, it's family-car-sized, with a boot big enough for 11 carry-on suitcases – for context, the rival Ford Focus takes five. Its interior is similarly spacious, so the long-haul family holiday should be a doddle. Its comfortable ride also plays a large part in this. 

However, the Octavia isn't big to the point where it's a nightmare to navigate a crowded city in it – its smaller than the Audi A4 executive car, for instance. Similarly, its engine range is powerful enough to satisfy, without being so performance-focused that it isn't economical. 

What's the rub? Well, prices start at around £6000. For the practicality you're getting, let alone the overall quality, that's incredible. 

We found: 2016 Skoda Octavia 1.2 TSI SE Euro 6, 71,352 miles, £7290

Read our full used Skoda Octavia review

Find a used Skoda Octavia for sale 

Our pick: 1.0 TSI 95 FR 5dr

0-62mph: 11 sec
MPG/range: 52.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 123g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 355 litres
Insurance group: 12E

Strengths

  • Great to drive
  • Remarkably spacious
  • Strong petrol engines

Weaknesses

  • Interior could be classier
  • Road noise

Somewhat like the Ford Fiesta, the Seat Ibiza is a small car with a slick driving experience. There’s plenty of grip to speak of, plus it has an impressively judged ride. The Ibiza stays very composed over undulating stretches of road and this is especially true of cars in the sporty FR trim – you might want to seek out the softer SE trim if comfort is your top priority, mind you. 

The engine range is similar to its SUV sibling, the Seat Arona, although there are some less powerful options should you want to save some money. Speaking of which, used examples are available for upwards of £7000. 

We found: 2017 Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI SE Euro 6, 66,000 miles, £7795

Read our full used Seat Ibiza review

Find a used Seat Ibiza for sale 

Strengths

  • Great to drive
  • Smooth ride
  • Cheaper than a Volkswagen Up

Weaknesses

  • Only four seats
  • Clumsy automatic gearbox
  • Volkswagen Up holds its value better

The Skoda Citigo is a tiny city car yet one that’s extremely capable. It has supple, quiet and well-controlled ride that puts many larger cars to shame, while its light controls, good visibility and excellent manoeuvrability make it a delight to drive in towns and cities. Its motorway manners are composed, too. 

You can pick up early cars for as little as £2000 in some cases, while examples from 2016 and 2017 are available for a reasonable £5000. Fuel economy isn't bad, either, with all versions achieving 50-60mpg in normal driving – according to our real-world tests. What's more, you won’t pay more than £20 per year in road tax if you buy an example that was registered before April 2017.

We found: 2016 Skoda Citigo 1.0 MPI SE Euro 6, 48,513 miles, £5495

Read our full used Skoda Citigo review

Find a used Skoda Citigo for sale 

Strengths

  • Great fun to drive
  • Composed and stable ride
  • Loads to choose from

Weaknesses

  • Rear seats lack leg room
  • Boot could be bigger
  • Plasticky interior

A sensible choice, but you wouldn't call it dull from behind the wheel. To drive, the Ford Fiesta has long been at the top of the small car class and this generation is no exception. Its handling is sharp, agile and engaging, plus most engines are punchy and all are fuel efficient – our recommended choice is the 99bhp 1.0-litre petrol. The Fiesta's ride is reasonably complaint and comfortable on top of that. 

You'll need a mere £2000 to get yourself a 2013 example, yet you wouldn't call 2016 cars bad value at around £5000. Aided by it being a best-seller when new, there's a seemingly endless amount of used Fiestas to go around, too. 

We found: 2016 Ford Fiesta 1.0T EcoBoost Titanium Euro 6, 58,600 miles, £5480

Read our full used Ford Fiesta review

Find a used Ford Fiesta for sale 

Our pick: 40 TFSI e Sport 5dr S Tronic

0-62mph: 7.6 sec
MPG/range: 256.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 26g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 280 litres
Insurance group: 24E

Strengths

  • Strong engines
  • Beautifully finished interior
  • Great to drive

Weaknesses

  • Not as spacious as the VW Golf in the back
  • Firm low-speed ride
  • Lower trims sparsely equipped

Premium badges come with high expectations, such as an impressive interior and well-sorted driving experience. In those respects (and then some), the Audi A3 family car delivers. The 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol (replaced by a similarly powerful 1.5-litre petrol in 2016) and the Sport trim is a great combination here, because examples like this go for a reasonable £7000, yet they offer good performance, fuel economy and comfort. Later cars still represent good value, though, with 2019 ones going for around £12,000.  

We found: 2017 Audi A3 1.5 TFSI Sport Sportback Euro 6, 44,727 miles, £9995

Read our full used Audi A3 review

Find a used Audi A3 for sale

Our pick: 1.0 TSI SE Technology 5dr

0-62mph: 11.3 sec
MPG/range: 51.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 400 litres
Insurance group: 10E

Strengths

  • Ride comfort on standard suspension
  • Big boot for class
  • Excellent 1.0-litre petrol

Weaknesses

  • Average interior
  • Noisy diesel engine
  • Road noise
  • Reliability can be an issue

Usually, you see small SUVs with a mechanical basis taken from a small car and, sometimes, the positives of the small car are lost when translated to SUV form. The Seat Arona, based on the excellent Seat Ibiza, doesn't fall into this trap.

Like the Ibiza, the Arona is good to drive, roomy and cheap to buy and run relative to its peers. Around £10,000 gets you a respectable example and one featuring our recommend engine – an economical 94bhp 1.0-litre petrol. 

We found: 2018 Seat Arona 1.0 TSI SE Euro 6, 66,000 miles, £9995

Read our full used Seat Arona review

Find a used Seat Arona for sale 

Strengths

  • Stylish and practical inside
  • Decent ride and handling
  • Flexible seating

Weaknesses

  • Not as well equipped as some rivals
  • Head room limited by panoramic roof
  • Slow-witted infotainment

Do you require seven seats and fancy the idea of having a large SUV? If so, take a good look at the Peugeot 5008. It was dubbed our What Car? Used Car of the Year in 2021, primarily because it represents unrivalled practicality for an SUV of its price and age. You're getting van-like space for less than £15,000 in some cases – what's more, its interior isn't just huge, but it's stylish as well. 

The icing on top is that the 5008 is available with a good range of engines and it drives well, thanks in part to a decent ride and handling balance. 

We found: 2019 Peugeot 5008 1.5 BlueHDi Active Euro 6, 72,830 miles, £16,800

Read our full used Peugeot 5008 review

Find a used Peugeot 5008 for sale 

Strengths

  • Good range of engines
  • Spacious interior and boot
  • Classy interior

Weaknesses

  • Slightly unsettled ride
  • Base S trim misses out on some kit

The Volkswagen Passat Estate has a vast boot, plus lots of kit and space for all the family. Prices start at around £10,000 and, if you spend a few grand more, you can pick up the excellent VW Passat GTE plug-in hybrid variant. If you do, you can expect up to 31 miles of electric-only range, unless you go for a post-2019 model, because its larger battery allows for 34 miles of range. 

Every version is great, though, and not just for practical reasons, because this estate car is refined and comfortable to drive as well. 

We found: 2016 VW Passat Estate 2.0 TDI BlueMotion Tech S DSG Euro 6, 77,376 miles, £10,495

Read our full used VW Passat Estate review

Find a used VW Passat Estate for sale 

Our pick: 100kW Techno R135 50kWh 5dr Auto

0-62mph: 9.5 sec
CO2 emissions: 0g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 338 litres
Insurance group: 18E

Strengths

  • Cheap to buy and run
  • Quiet and easy to drive
  • Good range (for a car of its size and price)

Weaknesses

  • So-so performance
  • Quality is lacking in places, namely in its interior
  • Some safety equipment was not standard from new

By buying an electric car, not only can you get out of the ULEZ fee, but road tax as well (for now). The Renault Zoe is our top choice for those on a budget, with early cars asking around £5500 and even facelifted, 2020 models going for a reasonable £11,000. Its small size means it's great around town, plus its range is good enough for when you need to venture outside of it. 

Earlier Zoes with the 22kWh battery have an official maximum range of 130 miles, while post-2015 cars with the 41kWh battery up that to an impressive 250 miles. Renault admits that 174 miles is more realistic, with this dropping to 112 in the winter.

We found: 2017 Renault Zoe R90 41kWh Dynamique Nav Auto, 47,000 miles, £7395

Read our full used Renault Zoe review

Find a used Renault Zoe for sale 

Strengths

  • Cheap to run
  • Spacious by class standards
  • Reliability record

Weaknesses

  • Cheap-feeling interior
  • Limited infotainment options

Of its age, the Suzuki Celerio is one of the cheapest cars you can buy and run. Around £4000 will net you a respectable example of this spacious city car, while average fuel economy is officially rated at an incredible 65.7mpg. Its 1.0-litre petrol engine doesn't have plenty of performance, but the model manages just fine around town.

Every Celerio trim falls into insurance group seven (out of a possible 50). Servicing costs are very reasonable, too. Road tax for cars registered before April 2017 is free, while those registered after will pay the standard rate – that rate is currently £180 per year. 

We found: 2016 Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ2 Euro 6, 59,000 miles, £4395

Read our full used Suzuki Celerio review

Find a used Suzuki Celerio for sale 


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