Thousands of car buyers are paying too much road tax

  • Some small cars are greener than others
  • Two identical cars can be in different tax bands
  • New tax system set to confuse buyers

Buyers looking to slash road tax costs by downsizing should do their research before completing a deal - or face paying over the odds for their tax discs in future.

Our latest research has uncovered that some buyers could be looking at a £100 INCREASE in road tax due to re-banding next year. 

Biggest tax losers for 2009

We've listed the cars that are hardest hit under the 2009's road tax bands. These are the cars that move from the current Band E to Band J. In nearly all cases there's a cleaner (and cheaper) alternative of the same car - just a click away.

Audi A3 (03-)

Affected models: 1.6 Tip Auto and 2.0T S-Tronic

Find a greener, cheaper Audi A3 >>

BMW 1-Series (04-)

Affected models: Some 116i and 120i variants

Find a greener, cheaper BMW 1-Series >>

Chevrolet Lacetti (05-)

Affected models: 1.8 and 1.6 models in hatchback, saloon and station wagon bodies

Find a greener, cheaper Chevrolet Lacetti >>

Citroen C4 (04-)

Affected models: 2.0 VTR (143bhp) hatchback and coupe

Find a greener, cheaper Citroen C4 >>

Ford Focus (05-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre auto in hatchback, estate and saloon bodystyles

Find a greener, cheaper Ford Focus >>

Ford Fusion (02-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre auto models

Find a greener, cheaper Ford Fusion >>

Ford KA (96-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre SportKa

Find a greener, cheaper Ford Ka >>

Mazda 3 (04-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre Activematic hatchback models

Find a greener, cheaper Mazda 3 >>

MINI Convertible (04-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre Cooper Auto models

Find a greener, cheaper MINI Convertible >>

Peugeot 307 (01-07)

Affected models: 2.0-litre models

Find a greener, cheaper Peugeot 307 >>

Renault Megane (02-)

Affected models: 1.6 and 2.0T models in hatchback, saloon and sport tourer bodies

Find a greener, cheaper Renault Megane >>

Renault Modus

Affected models: 1.6-litre engine models

Find a greener, cheaper Renault Modus >>

Renault Scenic (03-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre engine models

Find a greener, cheaper Renault Scenic >>

Saab 9-3

Affected models: 1.8-litre engine models

Find a greener, cheaper Saab 9-3 >>

SEAT Altea

Affected models: 1.6-litre engine models

Find a greener, cheaper SEAT Altea >>

SEAT Ibiza (02-08)

Affected models: 1.4 Auto models

Find a greener, cheaper SEAT Ibiza >>

Skoda Fabia (00-07)

Affected models: 1.4-litre auto models in hatchback, estate and saloon bodystyles 

Find a greener, cheaper Skoda Fabia>>

Skoda Roomster (06-)

Affected models: 1.6-litre Tiptronic models

Find a greener, cheaper Skoda Roomster >>

Vauxhall Astra (04-)

Affected models: Some 1.6T and 1.8-litre engines in hatchback, saloon and TwinTop

Find a greener, cheaper Vauxhall Astra >>

Vauxhall Corsa (03-06)

Affected models: 1.8 SRi

Find a greener, cheaper Vauxhall Corsa >>

Vauxhall Tigra (04-)

Affected models: 1.8-litre models

Find a greener, cheaper Vauxhall Tigra >>

Volkswagen Beetle (99-)

Affected models: Some 1.6-litre engine in the hatchback and cabriolet

Find a greener, cheaper Volkswagen Beetle >>

Volkswagen Golf (04-)

Affected models: Some 1.6 FSI models in the hatchback

Find a greener, cheaper Volkswagen Golf >>

Volkswagen Polo (02-)

Affected models: 1.4-litre auto

Find a greener, cheaper Volkswagen Polo >>


 How green are you?

Use the Parker's carbon footprint calculator to find out how green you and your car are. 

Calculate my carbon footprint

New road tax bands – due to come into force in March 2009 – will make the road tax system more confusing and penalise a number of small cars – including family favourites such as the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Ka, Skoda Fabia, SEAT Ibiza, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.

Cars that fall between 180 g/km CO2 and 185 g/km are currently at the top of Band E – but under next year’s banding, these cars will jump to Band J. That means a leap from £170.00 to £260.00, with a further rise in 2010 - a shock to current owners and anyone who buying one in the next year. 

Buyers need to be especially careful of the 1.4-litre petrol engine fitted to Fabia, Ibiza and Polo models. Many buyers will think they’re doing the ‘green thing’ by opting for a Polo and hoping to reap the financial reward. It’s a small car sold on how green it is – the 1.4-litre HDI Bluemotion emits under 100 g/km of CO2 and is exempt from road tax. However, choose a 1.4-litre petrol automatic and next year you could face a whopping £260.00 road tax charge; while manual versions will be charged from £120.00-£150.00, causing chaos for the car buyer. 

To make matters even more confusing, Parker’s has found a widespread practice in which car makers tweak the CO2 outputs of cars that are on the edges of the band boundaries. This is so they drop a band and become cheaper to run.

One example is the Citroen C4 fitted with the 1.6-litre HDI diesel - but there are countless others. When it was launched in 2004, the C4 1.6 HDI diesel was a 125 g/km car; from January 2008 it’s 120 g/km – just squeezing into Band B and going from £120 a year to just £35. That’s great news for new buyers – who will pay far less tax – but a maze for the used buyer to navigate at a time when the road tax system is more confusing than ever.

Click here to find out if you could be paying less tax

Parker’s advice to avoid paying too much road tax is simple: do your homework before you buy. Don't rely on guesswork: being a small car doesn't necessarily mean it will be cheap to tax and two identical cars could be paying two vastly different amounts of tax. Check our road tax calculator before you buy to make sure you're not buying a car that will cost you more than you think.