Here are the best ULEZ-compliant cars for those on a lower budget

As London’s ultra-low emission zone expands, here’s how to avoid paying extra.

The ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in London is expanding from October 25, meaning thousands of motorists could suddenly find it costs more to drive in the capital.

The expansion will mean anyone driving inside the North and South Circular roads will face a £12.50 charge if their vehicle is not compliant.

Currently, motorcycles must meet Euro 3 emissions standards, while petrol cars and vans must be Euro 4-compliant, and Euro 6 for diesels. That generally means vehicles built after 2005 for petrol and September 2015 for diesel.

If your car falls outside these parameters and you want to swap it in for something that won’t incur a charge, it doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Here are some lower cost options, based on older vehicles.

Under £1,000 - Ford Fiesta

Because petrol models can be almost two decades old and still compliant, there are plenty of sub-£1k options.

You could go for the Honda Jazz, which is incredibly plain but also very practical, reliable and economical, but we’d recommend the Ford Fiesta. There’s a good reason why it’s Britain’s best-selling car, year after year. 

 

Under £2,000 - Volkswagen Golf

Again, there are plenty of excellent choices, but you really need to look no further than the Volkswagen Golf. If you need a car that does everything well, the answer is always Golf.

You can get good-looking models in this budget range, and they come with great badge appeal, are inexpensive to run, and have enough space to carry a small family.

 

Under £3,000 - Audi A3

The Audi A3 does everything the Golf does, but wraps it up in a slightly more stylish package, while your friends won’t believe you got this excellent Audi for such a small outlay.

It manages to provide a great compromise between being practical without being so big that it’s tough to drive in the city, while the 1.4-litre engine will be a frugal option to keep running costs low.

 

Under £4,000 - Nissan Qashqai

We’re thinking of families here, and at this budget you get into the excellent Nissan Qashqai. It’s been built with practicality and durability in mind, while it’s relatively small footprint means it works as a daily driver for urban families too.

If you don’t need all that extra space, the Suzuki Swift and Volkswagen Polo make excellent alternatives.

 

Under £5,000 - BMW 3 Series

The BMW 3 Series is an aspirational model, and for less than £5,000 you can pick yourself up a smart, well-looked-after version. All 3 Series are great to drive and have long won plaudits for their excellent all-round abilities.

The only downside is that running costs could be a bit higher, as even if you keep fuel consumption low, parts prices can be high. 

 

Diesel car under £5,000 - Mazda6

Diesel cars have to meet more recent regulations, so prices are higher if you want one that’s ULEZ-compliant. If you have a £5k budget, the Mazda6 makes an excellent choice.

The Japanese firm is highly underrated and has been making stylish, reliable and great-to-drive cars for years now, and the Mazda6 epitomises this.

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