If you’re based in London then you’re probably used to driving being just a bit harder than it is in the rest of the country. Of course, there’s the usual problems of parking and driving in a big city to contend with, but for more than three million Londoners there’s also the question of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Cars that drive within the ULEZ must meet certain emissions regulations or else attract a £12.50 daily charge. Petrol cars must meet Euro 4 standards, but for diesel cars it’s Euro 6, which means cars have to be relatively recent.
Looking for a ULEZ-busting diesel isn’t always an easy process, as cars for sale ads don’t always advertise a car’s Euro emissions status. But we’ve rounded up some of the best used diesel cars you can buy right here – all of these cars meet ULEZ requirements, though in some cases Euro 6 standards don’t apply to all model years. If you’re unsure, though, Transport for London has an online tool that checks for you.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class E 350 and E 300 BlueTec from April 2013
If you’re looking for perfect London luxury you can do a lot worse than a Mercedes E-Class. There’s a reason these are so popular with premium taxi firms, after all – they’re spacious, good to drive, superbly refined and comfortable.
The powerful V6 diesels in these cars are great for long distances, so perfect for trips out of the city, but they’re also paired with slick automatic gearboxes that make city driving effortless.
BMW 120d BluePerformance from 2012
The 1-Series is such a good all-rounder that it’s got to be included in this list even though you need to hunt a specific model. It’s good to drive, with a rear-wheel drive setup that’s unusual in a hatchback like this, and the diesel engines are remarkably efficient too.
It’s not the most practical small hatchback option in terms of space, but that’s a worthy tradeoff for such a good car.
Volkswagen Golf GTD 2.0 TDI from August 2013
Volkswagen’s Golf GTI is a hot hatch legend, but the GTD is almost as popular in its own right. Though the name might lead you to believe it’s a diesel-powered hot hatchback, it’s actually more of a fast and efficient cruiser, effortlessly munching up motorways with firm but comfortable suspension.
Better yet, it’ll return well over 60mpg if driven carefully, and this generation of Golf is an incredibly good all-rounder with a spacious, beautifully-crafted interior.
Mazda CX-5 SkyActive-D from 2012
Mazda’s not just good at making efficient hatchbacks and open-topped sports cars – its SUVs take some beating, too. The CX-5 with its 2.2-litre diesel engine is powerful and torquey, and the whole package is very good to drive – especially if you want something with all-wheel drive.
Fuel economy is good too, though the automatic gearbox does take its toll on efficiency compared to more modern dual-clutch systems.
Vauxhall Zafira 1.6 CDTi 136ps from August 2013
Seven-seaters make ideal cars even if your own family won’t necessarily fill all the seats. They’re ideal for transporting friends, or fold the seats down for a ready-made van perfect for runs to the tip or the flat-pack furniture store.
The Zafira isn’t exactly a glamorous car, but it’s comfortable and very refined with the 1.6-litre diesel. And it also has a good reputation for reliability.