You don’t need to buy new to replace your car if it doesn’t comply with ULEZ standards. Here are our top used picks
With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) set to expand, choosing a used car has become even more complicated.
Having a car that complies with Euro 4 or Euro 6 emissions standards has become a must in the UK capital.
You can check if your car – or any car you’re considering buying – is compliant through the Transport for London (TfL) website.
If your car doesn’t comply and you drive into the ULEZ, you will need to pay a £12.50 daily fee. If you fail to do this, you will be hit with a £120 fine.
Thankfully, the used-car market is abundant with petrols that comply with Euro 4 (usually produced from January 2006) and diesels that comply with Euro 6 (usually produced from September 2015).
So, which ULEZ-friendly used cars should we be looking to buy? Read our list below for some top picks.
ULEZ-compliant small cars
After something super small but with an economical engine? This baby VW is a great choice, with a selection of 1.0-litre petrol engines, some of them turbocharged. You can pick one up (ahem…) for less than £3000; but if you ever drive on the motorway, we would recommend upping your budget to £4000 for a more powerful model.
Hyundai’s small car is one of our favourite city cars, thanks to its fun driving style and great practicality for its size. It even performs on faster roads, making that dreaded trip on the North Circular a much simpler task. High-mileage examples in decent nick can be had for £3000, powered by low-emission petrol engines. It can’t quite match the performance of the Up, but it’s still an ultra-compact car worth considering.
The ever-popular Fiat 500 is a great pick as a ULEZ-compliant buy, due to its retro styling, economical engines and entertaining drive. Today it’s possible to pick up a car with fewer than 50,000 miles on the clock for around £3500. This retro miniature is a good option both for new drivers and those looking to move into something a bit smaller.
An early Yaris can be picked up for less than £2000, but these are high-mileage options with more than 100,000 on the clock. We would recommend a car built between 2014 and 2020, where prices are more affordable. The Yaris is plenty spacious, and some examples are packed with sat-nav, safety technology and Bluetooth connectivity. We found a post-2014 model with 70,000 miles on the clock for around £4500.
There’s a lot to like about the Fiat Panda, even if some of the cars in the classifieds are pretty basic. It’s a capable city car and there’s a wide range of choice on the used market. Prices start from around £1300 – an absolute bargain for a car produced after 2010. An economical petrol produced from 2015 will set you back around £3000.
As most petrol models produced from January 2006 are ULEZ compliant, most Mini hatchbacks make the cut. High-mileage cars can be found for as low as £1000, but we would once again consider spending around £3500 if your budget can stretch to it. A diesel Mini will have to be from after 2016, where prices rise to around £7000. We found a Cooper D with 84,000 miles on the clock for £6995, so it can be done.
Ford may have just axed the Fiesta, but it will be a major player on the used market for many years to come – and it’s a fantastic choice as a ULEZ-compliant runabout. At around £6000, a low-mileage Mk7 car is our recommendation. It’s one of the costlier small cars, but it will be well worth it, thanks to its top-class Ecoboost turbo petrol engine line-up.
ULEZ-compliant family hatchbacks
Even compared with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, the Dacia Sandero is one of the best family hatchbacks you can buy today. That’s because it combines a useful blend of affordability and everyday practicality. You can get one new from just £13,795 or delve into the classifieds for a post-2013 model for less than £3500. Be careful, though, because some diesels won’t make the cut.
Although not exciting to drive, the Kia Ceed is a reliable option to get you from A to B, and it’s possible to get one from around £4000. We would recommend either a Mk2 or Mk3 with a petrol engine, although some of the older diesels are compliant too.
Like the Fiesta, the Ford Focus will always be a great choice as a ULEZ-compliant car, but there’s more versatility here with the choice of both petrol and diesel. The Focus’s engine line-up consists of 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrols and 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesels, so there’s something for every driver. We found several used examples of Mk3 and Mk4 cars with fewer than 50,000 miles on the clock, some priced at around £6000.
What’s not to like about the Volkswagen Golf? It’s practical, comfortable and great to drive, and even previous-generation cars have enough technology to satisfy most drivers. Compliant diesels start from about £7000. Prices for a Mk7 are high compared with the other options on this list, but for good reason. Expect to pay around £10,000 for a ULEZ-compliant petrol with fewer than 50,000 miles.
Like the Golf, the Mercedes A-Class is a classy used buy that complies with the ULEZ. It’s packed with technology and has one of the finest interiors in the segment, so you really get your money’s worth. As for cost, a used A-Class will command a similar price to the Golf if it has fewer than 50,000 miles. Prices for used cars from 2013 come in at around £10,500.
Some Corollas from as early as 2007 comfortably pass London’s ULEZ regulations, and a car from the model’s lauded return in 2017 will cost you around £10,000. All Corollas are frugal runners, so you will likely be satisfied with your purchase as you smugly drive past those ANPR cameras with an extra £12.50 in your pocket.
The BMW 3 Series is a venerable option for a ULEZ-compliant saloon, and you can even get a car from the early 2000s that complies with the relevant standards. We found a rather tempting 2003 3.0 330Ci Sport for just £3000. Alternatively, look towards the newer variants from 2013, where you can find a choice of petrol models from around £7000.
Another Ford we’ve sadly said goodbye to in recent years is the Mondeo, but luckily its production ran up until 2021, so you can find one to help you adhere to those ULEZ standards. We found a 1.5-litre petrol with just 65,000 miles on the clock for a smidge under £8000.
The Jaguar XF is one of the classiest saloon cars of its time, and there are a large number of used examples on the market for as little as £6500. Both petrols and diesels are available at this price point, like the ULEZ-compliant 2.0-litre 178bhp oil-burner that we found among the classifieds from 2016. You could even consider a V6…
Unfortunately, most diesel Volvo S60s aren’t okay for use in the ULEZ, but we found a compliant one-owner 2.0-litre diesel from 2018 with just 56,000 miles on the clock for £12,999. A petrol alternative of a similar age will also cost you around £13,000. It might be the ideal time to pick one up too, because Volvo has just removed all of its non-SUV models from sale in the UK.
The Skoda Superb lives up to its name as an excellent runaround with class-leading practicality and some brilliant turbocharged engines to choose from. Prices start from around £13,000 for a solid 1.5-litre petrol, whereas a nicely specced diesel comes in slightly lower, at a bargain £10,000.
The Mercedes C-Class is a great option for a premium saloon packed with tech, while emphasising comfort. It offers several engines, both petrol and diesel. We found a 2017 diesel for £13,250 and a 2015 petrol for £11,499.
A budget-friendly option for the pragmatist, the Insignia Sports Tourer is more spacious inside than many SUVs and better to drive, too. Low-mileage examples of the second-generation model can be had for around £11,000.
This isn’t the biggest estate, but it’s still plenty large enough for family holiday duties, and it’s a decent drive. Like the Focus hatchback, it benefits from 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol motors and 1.5 and 2.0-litre diesels. Tidy five-year-old cars cost around £15,000, but consider a 10-year-old model and you can dip below £10,000.
You get a lot for your money with the XF Sportbrake: a sumptuous interior, a satisfying drive and a badge to make the neighbours look on with envy.. Prices start around £13,000 for a compliant previous-generation diesel. Beware, though, that it won’t be the most dependable option.
The Mercedes E-Class is the industry-standard taxi in its native Germany, and with good reason: the estate will happily swallow the baggage of all but the biggest families. Moreover, it’s well-built, so looked-after cars will easily do the kinds of mileage that would get you to the moon and back. Expect to pay around £32,000 for a two-year-old diesel with fewer than 20,000 miles.
Ford was onto something calling its range-topping MPV the Galaxy, because it has boundless interior space. Not only is it immensely practical, it’s also as good to drive as huge family-haulers get, with Ford-typical engaging dynamics and strong engines. If you’re buying a diesel, make sure it’s from 2016 or later to ensure ULEZ compliance, while petrols from 2001 onwards should be fine. Early cars can be had for £1000, while nearly-new examples hover around the £25,000 mark, so there’s an option to suit any budget.
The Berlingo is possibly the best van-based MPV going, because it doesn’t feel as agricultural as you would expect. It’s a smaller option that’s perfectly proportioned for the city, lacking the unwieldiness of many rivals. Petrol examples are very thin on the ground, however, and the diesels are only compliant from 2016. You will pay around £1500 for an early petrol in need of some TLC or £9000 for a newer diesel.
The Touran is a favourite of cabbies for its comfort, spaciousness and dependability. The 1.6 and 2.0-litre diesel engines are the most common but only became ULEZ-compliant in 2016. There is, however, a wave of cars fitted with less-polluting petrol engines being imported from Japan, which you could consider instead. Just shop carefully and be aware that you may pay slightly more to insure a grey import. Prices vary from £2000 for a mid-2000s petrol to around £7500 for a more modern JDM car. ULEZ-compliant diesels start at £11,000.
Having a big family doesn’t mean you can’t have something stylish. The original S-Max still looks sharp all these years on, and is plenty practical. There are some interesting engine options, too, including the 217bhp turbocharged five-cylinder petrol from the hot Focus ST of the same era. Prices tend to align with the larger Galaxy (see above).
A ULEZ-compliant V6 people carrier? Yes, really. The Renault Grand Espace packs 245bhp and a 0-62mph sprint of 8.1sec, meaning you can ship seven people in record time. It does produce a pretty shocking 289g/km of CO2, though, so it’s not the ideal car for saving the planet. Expect a price tag of around £8000 for a car from 2008.
Want a rugged off-roader that you can take into town without breaking the bank? The Dacia Duster is a great choice in four-wheel-drive specification. Most are diesels, so you will either need to seek out a rare petrol example or a car from 2016 or later. Prices for the former start at £4000 and for the latter at £5000.
Effectively a Focus on stilts, the Kuga is one of the better family SUVs to drive, and it offers a bit more space than the hatchback. They’re plentiful, too, which keeps prices low. Petrols start just below the £5000 mark, while ULEZ-compliant diesels are priced from £7000. There’s either a 1.5-litre Ecoboost petrol with up to 180bhp or a TDCi diesel with up to 178bhp.
The Lexus RX was one of the first SUVs to be targeted at city buyers, offering a luxurious interior and a significantly higher driving position than the saloons of its day. Our money would go on a Mk2 car (built from 2003 to 2009), which can be had for as little as £2500. Up your budget to £8000 and you can get one with fewer than 80,000 miles on the clock and so plenty of life left in it.
It’s not an inspiring choice, nor all that good to drive, but the Santa Fe offers plenty of space for sensible money. ULEZ-compliant diesels (from 2016 on) are priced from £14,000, but low-mileage examples nudge against the £20,000 mark.
The XC60 is a super-stylish option with a luxurious interior and a reputation for safety. Look for an earlier petrol car priced from £6000 or a 2016-on diesel from £8000 to ensure ULEZ compliance. It’s a great all-rounder with good practicality, and all models are well kitted out with enough tech to keep you satisfied.
Zero-emissions electric cars are rapidly dropping in price, so you might be considering grabbing one off the used market in place of a ULEZ-compliant petrol or diesel.
We love the BMW i3, both in its petrol-engined range-extender (REx) and pure-electric forms. Prices for a pure EV start from £8500 on the used market, but you will need to spend a bit more for a car with a larger battery (and thus a longer range). We would recommend a budget of £12,000 for a 33kWh model or £14,000 for a 44kWh one.
You can’t go wrong with a Kia e-Niro. Produced from 2017 to 2022, it features a 64kWh battery that can squeeze out 280 miles of range. Second-hand prices are dropping, so you can find a used example from as low as £17,000.
Four years on from its initial launch, the ID 3 has popped up as a fine choice on the used market. Most cars at the lower end of the price range are fitted with a smaller battery, but spend around £20,000 and you will find First Edition cars with a 58kWh unit offering up to 260 miles of range. Not bad for one of the better-driving electric family hatchbacks.
This supermini is arguably the most stylish option on our list, and its specifications aren’t half bad either. An e-208 from 2020 will cost from around £13,000 – cheaper than many petrol options – and provide around 220 miles of range from its 55kWh battery. Plus, 134bhp is nothing to be sniffed at.
This compact saloon might be your best bet for a used EV, as few can match its class-leading range and performance. We found Dual Motor Long Range model for just £23,000 – a great deal for 348 miles of range, 341bhp and a 4.5sec 0-62mph sprint.
For simple jobs around the town, this little hatchback is another great option. As most used examples are low-mileage, they’re in good nick. A Zoe will cost you from £6700, although other options will offer you a longer range. Beware that some batteries were originally leased by Renault, so you might need to pay a monthly fee to use your car. That said, many owners have since purchased the battery packs outright. It’s well worth seeking such an example to save yourself some hassle.