Best family cars for cheap car tax

  • Our favourite family cars for cheap car tax
  • These family cars all cost £30 or less a year to tax
  • Parkers star ratings for each and used car pricing included
  • Our favourite family cars for cheap car tax
  • These family cars all cost £30 or less a year to tax
  • Parkers star ratings for each and used car pricing included

Running a family car means keeping a tight rein on costs is key but it’s important not to sacrifice practicality.

Car tax is currently based on CO2 emissions, so the cleaner your car the less you’ll pay. So here are 11 family cars for cheap car tax - ones which cost £30 or less a year to tax, but are ideal for transporting the kids.

Don’t forget to check out our Cars for Sale section for the latest deals on new and used cars. And when you come to sell your current car, make sure you get a free car valuation with us to ensure you get the right price.


Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI Bluemotion (2009-2012)

Volkswagen's Bluemotion Golf - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Refined, upmarket interior, low emissions
Cons: Expensive compared to rivals, lacks excitement

For many, the Volkswagen Golf is the mid-sized hatchback. A benchmark choice for some years now, it’s a brilliant all-rounder. Refined, upmarket and with an enviable feel of quality, there’s lots to like here. Just watch out for pricier servicing and spare parts than cars from rival manufacturers.

Residual values are high, particularly for diesel models. If you’re after low CO2 emissions, keep an eye out for versions with a BlueMotion badge on the boot. That label is reserved for VW’s greenest diesel models and the version introduced in October 2009 emits only 99g/km (and averages a claimed 74mpg!), meaning it’ll cost absolutely zero to tax at current rates.

Early models are a bit stingy on kit but later ones come with enough toys to keep most drivers happy. Because those low emissions mean attractive company car tax rates, there are likely to be a fair few ex-fleet cars about. Don’t be put off by high mileages as these cars are likely to have been well maintained and if the bulk of those miles have been on the motorway then wear and tear should be minimal.

Road tax cost: £0 (Band A)
Parkers rating: 4.5
Used price range: £2,835 - £15,760

Click here to see used car deals for the Volkswagen Golf.

BMW 3 Series Touring Efficient Dynamics (2012 on)

The BMW 3-Series Touring - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Decent boot space, premium image
Cons: Servicing can be expensive

Like the BMW 3 Series saloon, the estate version is a superb car. It’s great to drive, with beautifully balanced handling and a longer wheelbase than the saloon to allow extra legroom for rear passengers.

Boot space is a very usable 495 litres with the rear seats up and with the seats down there’s a potential 1,500 litres of luggage volume. Boosting the car’s practicality credentials are 40:20:40 split rear seats, making it easier to combine carrying long objects and passengers.

Go for the 320d Efficient Dynamics version and you’ll get a CO2 rating of 112g/km, not to mention claimed average fuel economy of 65mpg. That doesn’t mean it’s slow, though. With a 160bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine under the bonnet it’ll get from 0-60mph in around 8.0 seconds. Economy figures are unchanged whether you go for the standard manual or the excellent automatic transmission.

Road tax cost: £30
Parkers rating: 5
Used price range: £9,685 - £32,930

Click here to see used car deals for the BMW 3-Series Touring, or click here for lease deals.

Skoda Octavia 1.6 TDI CR GreenLine II (2004-2012)

The Skoda Octavia Hatchback - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Value for money, big boot, reliable
Cons: Some noisy diesels, boring interior

The Skoda Octavia is one of the best family cars around. It might look like a saloon but technically it’s a hatchback, with a top-hinged tailgate that enables easy access to the enormous  boot (560 litres with the seats up, 1,350 with them down).

There’s plenty of space inside too, with commodious door bins, cup holders and cubbyholes throughout. It’s reasonably well-equipped too, with climate control and electric windows standard across the range.

A drab, grey interior and rather gruff sounding diesel engines are two minor  criticisms but the Octavia’s effciency and value make up for it.Post-2009 models can be told apart by different-shaped headlights and bumpers.

The Greenline II 1.6-litre diesel emits only 99g/km of CO2, which means road tax is free at current rates. Fuel costs are light too as according to Skoda it’ll average as much as 74mpg.

Road tax cost: £0 (Band A)
Parkers star rating: 4.5
Used price range: £625 - £9,685

Click here to see used car deals for the Skoda Octavia.

Audi A4 Saloon 2.0 TDI SE (2008-2015)

The Audi A4 - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Quality interior, ride quality, big boot
Cons: Expensive, older design than some rivals

The BMW 3 Series might be better for driving fun, but the A4 is just as desirable for interior quality, comfort, refinement and badge appeal.

The interior has exemplary fit and finish and three adults fit in the back no problem. It has a big boot at 480 litres.

There’s no shortage of choice on the second-hand market, and ones with leather and autos command a higher price. 

Road Tax Cost: £0
Parkers star rating: 4.3
Used price range: £18,505 - £38,830

Click here to see used car deals for the Audi A4, or click here for lease deals.

Peugeot 3008 1.6 EHDI EGC (2009 on)

The Peugeot 3008 - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Practical, comfortable ride, clever split tailgate
Cons: Rear view poor

compact people carrier with a head-turning (and polarising) design, the Peugeot 3008 is a seriously practical and family- friendly car. A big, versatile boot, a useful split tailgate with a bottom section that flips down like a pick-up plus plenty of passenger space in the back combine to make it a great choice for families. It drives well, with fine ride and handling for a relatively bulky car. That said, Peugeot’s designers have still managed to drop some real clangers like a centre storage cubby and glove box designed with left-hand drive in mind, so one is awkward to access and the other is far too small.
The semi-automatic ‘EGC’ gearbox is more frugal than the manual and does better on CO2 too. Combine that with the 1.6-litre start/stop equipped e-HDi diesel engine and emissions are just 110g/km of CO2.

A compact people carrier with a head-turning (and polarising) design, the Peugeot 3008 is a seriously practical and family-friendly car.

A big, versatile boot, a useful split tailgate with a bottom section that flips down like a pick-up plus plenty of passenger space in the back combine to make it a great choice for families. It drives well, with fine ride and handling for a relatively bulky car.

That said, Peugeot’s designers have still managed to drop some real clangers like a centre storage cubby and glove box designed with left-hand drive in mind, so one is awkward to access and the other is far too small.

The semi-automatic ‘EGC’ gearbox is more frugal than the manual and does better on CO2 too. 

Road tax cost: £0
Parkers rating: 4
Used price range: £2,690 - £18,110

Click here to see used car deals for the Peugeot 3008 or click here for lease deals.

Hyundai i30 1.6 CRDi (2012 on) 

The Hyundai i30 - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Well-equipped, comfy, quality
Cons: More expensive, less desirable

The latest Hyundai i30 marks a big step forward for the company. It looks modern, has great build  quality and sleeker styling.

OK, it’s can’t match its European rivals for handling, but ride quality is excellent and the i30 can also boast generally low insurance ratings and a five-year warranty from new. The Blue Drive model and its 1.6-litre diesel motor coughs out only 97g/km of CO2 (for five-door Blue drive Classic and Active trim models).

Road tax cost: £0 (Band A)
Parkers rating: 4
Used price rating: £6,847 - £14,917

Click here to see used car deals for the Hyundai i30, or click here for lease deals.

Kia Cee'd SW 1.6 CRDi (89BHP) EcoDynamics 5D (2007-2012)

The Kia Cee'd SW - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Impressive space, cavernous boot, long warranty
Cons: Sluggish petrol, cheap interior trim, dull to drive

The Kia Ceed SW is a great-value small estate that’s cheap to run. Its interior quality, comfort and refinement are not far behind  the rival Ford Focus. A series of tweaks in late 2009 gave the SW a reshaped bonnet,  grille and lights front and rear.

At the same time, a EcoDynamics version joined the range with emissions of just 119g/km CO2 from its 1.6-litre diesel. It’s offcial avearge fuel consumption is a very useful 62mpg.

Road tax cost: £30 (Band C)
Parkers star rating: 4
Used price range: £1,485 - £7,535

Click here to see used car deals for the Kia Cee'd.

Ford B-Max 1.0T EcoBoost (2012 on)

The Ford B-Max - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Clever doors, fun EcoBoost engine
Cons: Heavy rear doors, firm ride

The smallest of Ford’s people carriers, the B-Max is based on the brilliant Fiesta. It features neat sliding rear doors and no middle pillar so it’s easier to get in and out. It’s easy to park and it’s kitted with the latest tech such as automatic emergency braking.

We’d go for the 1.0-litre three-cylinder EcoBoost engine rather than diesel. Two versions are available, either 98bhp or 125bhp. The more powerful one emits less  CO2 at 114g/km, although the lesser version still fits in VED Band C at 119g/km.

Road tax cost: £30 (Band C)
Parkers star rating: 4
Used price range: £4,270 - £13,220

Click here to see used car deals for the Ford B-Max, or click here for lease deals.

Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer 2.0 CDTi 140 Ecoflex (2009 on)

The Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Styling, interior, practical touches
Cons: Small boot opening, poor rear view

The Vauxhall Insignia Tourer has plenty going for it. It’s not only a handsome-looking car but  it’s also comfortable and refined with a great appetite for motorway miles.

If your budget allows, go for a 2013-on model as that year saw a series of major updates to make the Insignia more up to date, including new equipment and improvements to the interior. It also included four new engines, the lowest emitting of which is the 138bhp 2.0-litre EcoFlex diesel rated at just 104 g/km.

Road tax cost: £20 (Band B)
Parkers star rating: 3.5
Used price range: £2,690 - £18,145

Click here to see used car deals for the Vauxhall Insignia, or click here for lease deals.

Volvo V60 D2 Business Edition (2010 on)

The Volvo V60 - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Engine choice, safety kit
Cons: Vague steering, shallow boot

Although Volvo markets the V60 as a sporty car, it’s really a comfortable, neatly designed and safe machine the company does well.

It scores well for safety with some versions even featuring pedestrian recognition and automatic emergency braking.

Downsides are the low roofline restricts head space and the boot has  a shallow shape which limits its carrying capacity. That said, when the rear seats are folded (and they go totally flat) it’s a pretty practical machine. Pick the 115bhp D2 Business Edition and you’ll enjoy DAB radio, sat-nav and CO2 emissions of 108g/km.

Road tax cost: £20 (Band B)
Parkers star rating: 3.5
Used price range: £5,815 - £37,105

Click here to see used car deals for the Volvo V60, or click here for lease deals.

Renault Captur 1.5 dCi (2013-on)

Renault Captur - family cars for cheap car tax

Pros: Easy to drive, eye-catching, lots of kit
Cons: Small boot, seats lack support

The Renault Captur’s design aims to turn heads, while it’s full of equipment to keep both driver and family happy. 

It’s relatively small, so easy to manoeuvre and park, and while the boot is quite small it does have lots of extra storage compartments inside. 

Great for families is the zippable seat upholstery, which can be removed and put in the washing machine when those inevitable toddler spillages occur. 

The 89bhp engine is ample, but the higher output version, 108bhp, still gives emissions as low as 98g/km, meaning £0 VED car tax on either edition. 

Road tax cost: £0 (Band A)
Parkers Rating: 4
Used price range: £6,500 - £14,735

Click here to see used car deals for the Renault Captur

Top Buying Tips for Family Cars with Cheap Car Tax

Right version? 

In recent years, manufacturers have producing different versions with the same engine but different power outputs and therefore different emissions. Check carefully on the V5 which version you are looking at buying. 

Power play 

Sometimes the higher-power version of the same engine incurs the same road tax cost, so check before buying.

Fuel for thought

Take a test drive and if you are using the throttle hard then no matter how good the official average mpg figure, you will get a lot less than that. A higher-powered version may prove better.

Interior check

Families, and especially children, can give a car’s interior a hard time. Check in the back that all stowage holds, arm rests, switches work. Also tip up the rear seats to see if there’s debris and rubbish. Leather interiors are easier to clean thanks to its wipe clean surface.

Service schedule

Check the service history and when it was carried out. Sometimes it can get missed especially if household finances  are tight. Also ask where it was serviced  – a reputable garage helps provide peace of mind. Same applies to MoTs if the car is three years old or more.

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