Top 10: Quick(ish) cars with low VED

Usually, CO2 ratings and performance are quite uniformly linked: the lower the CO2, the lower the performance.

However, car manufacturers are getting better at squeezing maximum grunt out of their engines while lowering CO2, meaning there are some cars that skew the line a bit. So here are 10 new and relatively cheap cars that are quite quick, but that you won’t have to pay the taxman a fortune in VED to run. They’re all ‘conventional’ - so no electric cars or expensive hybrids allowed.   

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1

Audi A1 1.6 TDI SE

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

CO2: 92g/km

VED Band: A

Audi has one of the best petrol engines on the market in the 1.4 TSI CoD (Volkswagen's ACT engine by another name), and while it suits the character of the A1 better than any diesel, getting that engine isn’t cheap. That’s why the basic A1 1.6 TDI SE looks such good value: less than £16,000, quite quick and 74.3mpg. 

Read the Audi A1 review here

2

Citroen DS3 DSport BlueHDi 120

0-62mph: 9.3 seconds

CO2: 94g/km

VED Band: A

Picking a diesel engine in a small hatch is often not worth the extra cost, especially with small turbo petrol engines becoming so much more efficient. However, with Citroen’s BlueHDi engine offering a claimed 78.5mpg it’s difficult to resist, especially for higher mileage drivers. Its sizeable torque makes the car feel nimble around town, too.  

Read the Citroen DS3 review here

3

Renault Twingo TCe 90

0-62mph: 10.8 seconds

CO2: 99g/km

VED Band: A

A small four-seater with a grumbling, rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive? Why, it must be a Porsche 911. Twingo owners can bore their friends and family senseless all day with that analogy - and why not - all the while enjoying zero VED and one of the tightest turning circles around. 

Read the Renault Twingo review here

4

Ford Fiesta 1.0T EcoBoost Zetec S

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

CO2: 99g/km

VED Band: A

Ford’s three-cylinder EcoBoost engine was a revelation when introduced, owing to its smoothness, pace and claimed efficiency. Owners report that the unit’s real-world economy can be some way off the claims, but there’s no denying it’s quick, characterful and requires zero VED payment. 

Read the Ford Fiesta review here

5

MINI Cooper

0-62mph: 7.9 seconds

CO2: 105g/km

VED Band B

BMW engineering not only means that the MINI’s build quality is superior to that of most small cars, it also means Efficient Dynamics. And with the third-generation BMW-era MINI, the Cooper model offers performance and emissions that really feel at odds with each other – this is genuinely quick, but it only costs £20 in VED. 

Read the MINI hatchback review here

6

Mazda2 1.5 90PS SE-L

0-62mph: 9.4 seconds

CO2: 105g/km

VED Band: B

Mazda’s new SKYACTIV-G petrol engine isn’t the smoothest around, but in 90PS form it makes for a pretty quick, very efficient small car. The company’s new SKYACTIV-D diesel is, on paper, far more economical, but for those doing regular short runs we’d usually advise going for a small capacity petrol engine instead - and definitely in this case. 

Read the Mazda2 review here

7

SEAT Leon 1.4 TSI ACT FR

0-62mph: 8.2 seconds

CO2: 109 g/km

VED Band: B

Thanks to Volkswagen Group parts sharing, the company’s ACT cylinder shut-down engine made it into the SEAT Leon, putting one of today’s best engines into Spain’s best ever car. There are faster and more economical Leons, but the TSI version is, on balance, the pick of the bunch. 

Read the SEAT Leon review here

8

Volkswagen Polo BlueGT 1.4 TSI ACT

0-62mph: 7.8 seconds

CO2: 110gkm

VED Band: B

Volkswagen’s Active Cylinder Technology (ACT) is a very simple way of saving fuel, yet a very difficult one to engineer. ACT shuts down two of the engine’s cylinders when they’re not needed – when gently cruising, for example – and opens them up again as required too. Volkswagen has managed to make this operation happen imperceptibly and the result is a combination of fantastic economy with genuine pace.  

Read the Volkswagen Polo review here

9

Vauxhall Adam Jam 1.0T 115PS

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

CO2: 114g/km

VED Band: C

While the Adam hasn’t really struck a chord with the premium small car buying public in the way Vauxhall would have wanted, it’s still a decent (and different) hatchback. Vauxhall’s three-cylinder turbo engine is a highlight, with a lovely sound, good turn of pace and very appealing fuel efficiency. 

Read the Vauxhall Adam review here

10

Renault Clio 1.2 TCe

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

CO2: 120g/km

VED Band: C

Renault’s turbocharged 1.2-litre engine is a brilliant example of a modern, small capacity turbo petrol unit – highly revvy, but with a small turbo that adds low-end urge without much lag at all. It’s perfect for a car like the Clio, making it feel nippy while also being fuel-efficient. 

Read the Renault Clio review here