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Top five cars to beat the ‘road tax’ changes

Image of James Kelly
Author: | Updated: 14 Sep 2015 15:42

Now we’re into April, the rejigged Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) charges everyone’s been talking about are now officially applicable if you’re considering a new car. VED, or ‘road tax’ as it’s more commonly known, has been the bane of motorists’ lives since it was introduced way back in 1920.

If you lease your car, VED will be factored into your your monthly payment, and spread over the course of your contract, which is nice. But even then you’ll likely to still be paying more than before April 2017. So is there any way of avoiding the new charges?

If you fancy an electric car, then the answer is yes. Going electric will negate any taxation, provided your car has a list price of less than £40,000 that is, which rules out the Tesla Model S and BMW i8, for example. But which are the best? Here’s five that’ll keep the tax man at bay…

Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe

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The Renault Zoe is one of the more accessible EVs out there, and a recent upgrade to a 41kW battery pack means most models are now capable of over 250 on a single charge. It’s a more sedate car to drive than the i3, taking 13.5 seconds to reach 62mph. However, it is built for city commutes though, so it’d be harsh to criticise its performance.

Despite being one of the most affordable, it’s also one of the most well-equipped. Even entry-level models include the likes of Renault’s R-Link infotainment system, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity. Tick of few boxes on the options list and you’ll also get satnav, heated seats, leather upholstery, a Bose sound system and a parking camera.

Hyundai Ioniq

Hyundai Ioniq

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The Ioniq is the first car in the world to offer separate hybrid, full electric and plug in hybrid powertrains within one body type.

With an official range of 174 miles, it gets 28kW lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged in just 33 minutes via a 50kW fast charge point. However, it’s inside where the Ioniq really stands out – there’s ample room for four adult passengers and their luggage, while impressive equipment levels and great built quality only add to its appeal.

Mercedes B-Class

Mercedes B-Class

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For the ultimate electric load-lugger though (unless you can stretch to Tesla’s extraordinary Model X), the Mercedes-Benz B-Class takes home the prize. In fact, it actually borrows some tech from Tesla, which means an electric motor capable of 179bhp. While its range of 124 miles isn’t as useful as some other offerings here, its boot certainly is – 500 litres of capacity is proof enough that battery packs needn’t impede on interior space.

Reviewers have also commented on how pleasant the B Class is to drive, probably because Mercedes hasn’t had to start from scratch to build this car; aside from the drivetrain, it’s pleasingly similar to its petrol and diesel models to pilot. As you’d expect from a car bearing the three-pronged badge, build quality is impeccable too, and it can claim to be one of the most refined EVs to date.

BMW i3

BMW i3

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With the i3, BMW has strayed from its usual conservative design strategy to create one of the most futuristic cars on the road; take the badge away, and you’d struggle to tell it’s part of BMW’s prestigious range. A regenerative braking system and the use of recycled materials make the i3 particularly eco-friendly too, even by EV standards.

With an electric motor producing 168bhp and 250Nm of torque, it’s also one of the nippier electric cars, getting from rest to 62mph in just over 8 seconds. What’s more, a recent upgrade gives it a range of almost 200 miles. Love or loathe the looks, there’s no escaping the fact this is one of the most advanced EVs currently available.

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

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It’s been around a while, but Nissan’s Leaf is still a fantastically popular EV – it’s the most popular EV to lease on the site so far this year - and not without reason. Although there’s a new model arriving in 2018, Nissan has continuously improved the current model over the last few years, and it’s now capable of up to 155 miles on a single charge.

With a huge amount of interior space, typically impeccable Japanese build quality and attractive finance deals, Nissan’s Leaf is sure to stay the UK’s most popular EV for a good while yet. With a healthy standard equipment list and more than enough range for the daily commute, it remains the emission (and tax) free choice.

Tesla Model 3… worth waiting for?

Tesla's Model 3 is due to hit the production line in July

Tesla’s hugely anticipated Model 3 is purportedly the car that’ll democratise EVs more than any have done to date. Featuring similar looks and tech to the upmarket Model S, the first Model 3s are due to hit the road later this year. With an ever-growing Supercharger network, autonomous tech capabilities and performance that can outgun petrol propulsion, is it worth waiting for?

We’d say yes, although a 400,000-strong waiting list means the wait will be a long one. Going off the pound’s current value, it could get a list price of around £28,000 when it gets to the UK, putting it on par with several of the cars on this list. However, there’s no indication of lease rates yet, and we’re yet to see a finished post-development Model 3 in the flesh so, only time will tell if Tesla’s electric dreams will come true…

Interested in an AFV? You’re not alone…

ContractHireAndLeasing saw alternatively fuelled vehicle (hybrid and EV) enquiries jump by a massive 97.6% in the three months leading up to April 1, with more and more drivers being swayed by the benefits of low-emission vehicles. Now the only new cars that benefit from road tax exemption, you can find all our EV lease deals here.

However, if you don’t mind handing over a little more per month in tax, you may want to consider going hybrid; our figures show that Korean models such as the Hyundai Ioniq (hybrid model) and the Kia Niro are stealing the show. Here’s five you can lease for less than £250 per month…

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