Top 10 cars to buy before the VED changes

The way vehicles are taxed is going to change. All petrol and diesel cars registered after 1 April 2017 will pay a flat rate of £140 annually if they cost below £40,000. Cars that cost more than £40,000 will pay a £310 supplement on top of that. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the new rules.

The changes aren’t retrospective, though – so cars registered before that date will still be taxed according to their emissions. That means, for many buyers, getting in before the rule changes will save hundreds of pounds in VED. Here are 10 cars we’d recommend buying before April 1 2017.

There’s more to consider too (this is tax after all) – because under the new system first year VED is still calculated based on CO2 emissions. First year VED is included in the price you pay when you buy the car new, so it’s not likely to be noticed, but it’s still important. First year VED is included in the numbers below. 

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1

Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i

Current VED cost over four years: £0
New VED cost over four years: from £405
First year VED from 2017: from £15

The Prius is a car that most buyers choose on its eco-friendly strengths and low running costs. But despite emitting as little as 70g/km, the Prius is going to cost £130 every year in VED after 1 April, or nothing if bought before – so if you fancy the hybrid life, now is the time.

It’s a smooth, relaxing and calming car to drive, which makes it great for the cut and thrust of big cities like London. Official economy is officially more than 80mpg, which isn’t realistic in real world driving, but even so it’s likely to prove frugal for most motorists, especially those who drive in town.

Read our review of the Toyota Prius

2

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Current VED cost over four years: £0
New VED cost over four years: from £390
First year VED from 2017: £0

Mitsubishi brought the Outlander PHEV to the UK at the perfect time, from a business point of view. For company car drivers it’s a star, since it’s huge and it falls into a very low Benefit in Kind bracket. It still will after the VED changes – but the annual VED will increase from £0 to £130 annually.

That’s for most variants – but some examples of the Outlander PHEV are unlucky enough to cost more than £40,000. These will set owners back £440 annually after the first year – A total of £1320 over four years. If maths isn’t your strongest GCSE subject, that’s a lot more than zero.

Read our review of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

3

Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi 
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: £520
First year VED from 2017: from £100

We were originally going to feature the Ford Fiesta – the best-selling car in the UK – in this list, but since an all-new version is coming soon we’d recommend waiting. The Corsa, on the other hand, isn’t changing imminently. So if you want free or very cheap VED, now is better than April.

The latest Corsa is affordable, sensible and easy to drive, so it’s no surprise it’s a regular in the sales charts. No doubt plenty of buyers will be looking for a Corsa around the time of the 17-plate change, so expect a big rush in March to get on the road before the VED changes.

Read our review of the Vauxhall Corsa

4

Ford Focus 1.5 TDCi
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: from £520
First year VED from 2017: from £100

Currently, some examples of the Ford Focus are free to tax annually and most cost less than £30 a year. Cheap tax is likely to be a big factor for Focus buyers, so if you want to save a big chunk of money over four years of ownership, buy one before April 2017.

It appears in our list because it’s so popular – and rightly so. It blends enjoyable driving dynamics with comfort, plus it is available with impressive safety equipment and connectivity. It’s the quintessential family car, basically. If that’s what you’re looking for, buy sooner than later.

Read our review of the Ford Focus

5

Audi A4 2.0 TDI Ultra
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: from £540
First year VED from 2017: from £120

If, 10 years ago, someone told you the Audi A4 would be free to tax in 2017 because it produced so little CO2, you’d dismiss them as crazy. And yet here we are… To be fair, only a select few variants fall into VED band A, but even those that don’t are still cheap to tax.

After April 1 most models will cost £140 per year to tax, but if you go for a higher output engine and tick a few options boxes, the price will tip beyond £40,000. That pushes the annual VED bill up to a very steep £450 annually – so bear that in mind if you’re buying.

Read our review of the Audi A4

 

6

Tesla Model S
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: £930
First year VED from 2017: £0

The choice car of Apple Watch wearers, Tesla’s pure electric Model S is a very impressive machine, but it’s expensive. Zero-emissions cars are the only ones that will qualify for free VED under the new rules – but since the Model S is an exception, since it costs more than £40,000.

That means there is £310 annual supplement on top of its otherwise zero VED rate – meaning over four years the Model S will cost £930 (it’s still zero in year one) in VED if bought after 1 April or zero if bought before. You know what to do if you want a big posh electric car, then.

7

Vauxhall Astra 1.6CDTi
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: from £520
First year VED from 2017: £100

If you want an eco-friendly Vauxhall Astra there are several to choose from, with petrol or diesel models coming in at below 100g/km. If you’ve got this far in our gallery you know the drill – these versions are free to tax now, but won’t be from April 2017.

But it’s not just the super-eco variants that will cost more to tax in 2017. Most versions of the Astra have annual VED bills of less than £30 at the moment, but when the changes come into effect, they’ll all go up to £140 annually, plus even more in the first year in some cases. 

Read our review of the Vauxhall Astra

8

Citroen C4 Cactus 1.2 Puretech ETG
Current VED cost over four years: from £0
New VED cost over four years: from £540
First year VED from 2017: £120

One of the most popular cars with HonestJohn.co.uk readers is the Citroen C4 Cactus. It’s spacious, affordable and comfortable, making it a good choice for a small family. Running costs are low too, with all versions falling into VED bands A or B – so either free or £20 annually.

Obviously none of that will apply in April 2017 – every version of the Cactus will cost £140 per year and that’s that. So if you want an airbumpy, idiosyncratic French hatchback but you don’t want to pay very much for its annual tax, best get down the dealership shortly. 

Read our review of the Citroen C4 Cactus

9

Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS 
Current VED cost over four years: from £20
New VED cost over four years: from £560
First year VED from 2017: £140

Our 2016 Car of The Year, the Suzuki Vitara is a hit with HonestJohn.co.uk readers and for good reason. It’s practical, good to drive, well-made and comes with some good engines. None manages to emit less than the magic 100g/km of CO2, but even so the whole range is cheap to tax.

Or it is until 1 April 2017, after which it becomes as expensive to tax as every other small SUV and crossover. Our pick of the range is the 1.6 DDiS diesel and 1.4-litre BoosterJet petrol; both are responsive and fun, with reasonable fuel economy. 

Read our review of the Suzuki Vitara 

10

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi
Current VED cost over four years: from £20
New VED cost over four years: from £540
First year VED from 2017: £120

The Qashqai is Britain’s favourite crossover, according to official sales figures from the SMMT. That’s thanks in no small part to its affordable running costs, with some versions emitting less than 100g/km and therefore qualifying for free annual VED.

Fast forward to April 2017 and that’s all going to stop. Although, as with all the cars in our list, there are plenty of reasons to buy one aside from its affordable annual VED. That said, who doesn’t want to save more than £100 a year? 

Read our review of the Nissan Qashqai