If you are looking to purchase a new or used vehicle then you may already be wondering what the best low emission cars are. Many of our cities are introducing Ultra-Low Emission Zones and driving a vehicle that doesn’t comply with the Euro 6 rules could end up costing you thousands in unexpected costs.
Here at UK Car Finance, we have put together a list of the very best Euro 6 compliant cars as well as a full explanation as to what the EU emission standards include.
Best Low Emission & Euro 6 Cars
What are the European Union Emission Standards?
Under the European Union regulations, new cars must meet firm Euro emissions standards with the aim to improve air quality and reduce the negative impact on the environment and people’s health. The EU has set out to reduce dangerous exhaust emissions such as nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and particulate matter.
These emission standards were first officially introduced in 1992 with Euro 1. Since then, it has been updated a further five times to today’s current standard – Euro 6, which was rolled out in September 2015.
The standards are in place to define what level of exhaust emissions is acceptable. The rules apply to new light duty vehicles sold within the EU and EEA. Despite Brexit, it is believed that the UK will continue to adopt these regulations moving forward.
What is Euro 6?
Euro 6 is simply the 6th edition of the EU Emission Standards. With every new set of standards, the European Union imposes stronger restrictions.
Euro 1 Standards
The very first European emission standards was the Euro 1 introduced in 1992. It enforced a catalytic converter for all new petrol vehicles to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and required a switch to unleaded petrol fuel.
Euro 2 Standards
In 1997 the second version of the emission standards were introduced. Euro 2 was more stringent and tightened up on the max levels further. It also was the first-time petrol and diesel cars were given different levels.
Euro 3 Standards
In 2001 the European Union updated the rules again with Euro 3. This time hydrocarbons and Nitrogen Oxide were split with separate limits. It also included rules that meant there would be no longer allowed a warmup period when testing vehicles.
Euro 4 Standards
2006 saw yet another update in the form of Euro 4. This set of rules tightened up the max levels of emissions further, however, unlike the previous installments there weren’t any other changes.
Euro 5 Standards
In 2011 Euro 5 rules were implemented across Europe. Along with more tightening of the emissions, the big change this time was the introduction of particulate filters for diesel cars. These filters are designed to capture 99% of all particulate matter and was a huge step forward for the diesel market.
Euro 6 Standards
After many studies linked diesel fumes to respiratory problems the Euro 6 emission regulations aimed to considerably lower NOx from diesel engines. Many car manufactures opted for adding Selective Catalytic Reduction which converts the harmful nitrogen oxide into just water and nitrogen. Other manufactures elected for Exhaust Gas Recirculation instead, this works by mixing the exhaust gas with intake air to lower the burning temperature.
When is the next Euro 7 coming?
The next instalment of the emission regulations is expected to be the final. Euro 7 is due to be announced at any moment now and is expected to be implemented in 2025. The European Green Deal is likely to have a very strong influence on the new regulations with more focus on reducing carbon dioxide further.
|Standard||Implementation date||Petrol Standard||Diesel Standard|
|Euro 1||1992||CO: 2.72g/km
HC + NOx: 0.97g/km
HC + NOx: 0.97g/km
|Euro 2||1997||CO: 2.2g/km
HC + NOx: 0.5g/km
HC + NOx: 0.7g/km
|Euro 3||2001||CO: 2.3g/km
HC + NOx: 0.56g/km
|Euro 4||2006||CO: 1.0g/km
HC + NOx: 0.30g/km
|Euro 5||2011||CO: 1.0g/km
PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only)
HC + NOx: 0.23g/km
PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km
|Euro 6||2015||CO: 1.0g/km
PM: 0.005g/km (direct injection only)
PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km (direct injection only)
HC + NOx: 0.17g/km
PN [#/km]: 6.0×10 ^11/km
How successful have the Euro Emission Standards been?
Given that 90% of vehicles sold across the world come from G-20 participants and of these 20 members, 17 have chosen to follow the European Union’s emission regulations, it’s safe to say the regulations have been successful.
According to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, (known as SMMT), it would take 50 new cars today to produce the same amount of pollutant emissions as one vehicle built-in 1970. They also claim a new car built in 2018 has on average CO2 emissions 31.2% lower than in 2000. It’s not just CO2 , NOx emissions from passenger cars have fallen 81% since 1990 also.
What is a ULEZ?
ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone. There is also LEZ, which stands for Low Emission Zone, and CAZ which is an acronym for Clean Air Zone.
ULEZs are areas usually within cities where certain vehicles are banned or limited in a bid to cut the amount of pollution generated. The hope is that it will encourage people to adopt cleaner alternatives whether by not taking their vehicle into the area altogether or embracing a euro 6 low emission vehicle instead.
Which UK cities have Low Emission Zones?
London, Glasgow, Bath, and Birmingham are the only cities that have Low Emission Zones in place as of the time of writing this.
However, many cities across the whole of the UK are in talks of implementing similar plans including:
- Newcastle upon Tyne
Find out more about the current low emission zones in place by clicking on the city below.
Probably the most well-known ULEZ is London. The capital was already known for having a Congestion Charge that helped cut private car usage by nearly 40% between 2002 – 2013. However, this charge had only been in place at specific times. The Ultra-Low Emission Zone in place today is operational 24/7, 364 days a week, with just Christmas Day as the only exception. The poor air quality within London is responsible for thousands of premature deaths with many more suffering health complications. The ULEZ zone aims to encourage people to use public transport and find cleaner alternatives to travel around the city.
The ULEZ area expands from St Pancras in the North, down to Vauxhall, across to Mayfair, and over to Shoreditch. There is no physical barrier to entering and leaving, however, there are a lot of number plate readers around the border. It is well signposted, however, so you are made aware of the area before you accidentally enter.
The London ULEZ is free to eligible vehicles. For vehicles that don’t meet the regulations, there will be a £12.50 entry fee. Failure to pay the entry fee could land you with a hefty £160 fine.
You can check whether your vehicle meets the standards by entering your registration number on the Government website using the button below.
ULEZ standards for London
Motorbikes, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
Euro 4 (NOx)
For petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
Euro 6 (NOx and PM)
For diesel cars, vans and minibus and other specialist vehicles
Euro VI (NOx and PM)
For lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles (NOx and PM)
The first city in Scotland to adopt a low emission zone was Glasgow. The city suffers from high levels of nitrogen dioxide which are harmful to people and the environment. Road traffic has been identified as the main source of air pollution according to the Glasgow council. As a result, the low emission zone was introduced on December 31 2018.
The Glasgow council has decided to enforce low emissions in a phased approach. Phase 1 applied to local service buses only and is currently the only phase in place. However, phase 2 which rolls out from June 1 2023, will impact all vehicles.
Until it is enforced the plans could change, but the current phase two plans for Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone include a large area covering the majority of the city where cars must only enter that have low emissions. It is expected to be operational 24/7, 365 days with big fines for anyone that doesn’t comply. Phase 2 is expected to come into effect from June 1 2023.
The Bath and North Somerset council implemented a Clean Air Zone after it found “unacceptable” levels of air pollution within its city. As poor air quality can be harmful to the most vulnerable in our communities, they bid to reduce the levels of NO2 caused by vehicle traffic.
The council advised that their technical work showed that a charging zone for traffic would be the only successful measure that would achieve the desired reduction in air pollution within the set time frame.
The good news is private cars and motorbikes are not currently impacted by the new regulations. However, with the council being keen to reduce emissions further, this may change in the future.
Like Bath above, Birmingham also has a Clean Air Zone in place. When it comes to air pollution figures, Birmingham is only topped by London, not a record either city will be proud to hold. As a result, the city is on a mission to drastically reduce the harmful levels of air pollution in contributes too. There is a large area mapped out reserved for low emission cars only. Any vehicle that does not meet the standard that still wishes to enter the zone will incur a daily charge.
The charges are as follows:
£8 for cars, taxis and LGVs
£50 for coaches, buses and HGVs
The Clean Air Zone came into operation on June 1 2021 and covers all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself. The CAZ will operate 24/7, 365 days a year.
Birmingham is also implementing more electric vehicle charging points and switching to hydrogen-powered buses in a bid to reduce air pollution further.
What is a EU6 engine?
You may have seen some companies refer to EU6 engines. EU6 just stands for Euro6 and these are engines that comply with the emission levels. If you buy a EU6 engine car, you are buying a car that meets Euro 6 regulations and is safe to drive in Low Emission Zones.
Does having a Euro 6 car affect an MOT?
In 2018 new MOT rules came into place which saw probably the biggest changes to MOTs in over two decades. The new rules made it tougher for all vehicles but had an especially heavy impact on diesel engines due to their high emissions.
Having a Euro 6 car which must comply with low emission levels as standard means your car should pass an MOT emission check.
Can I drive all Euro 6 cars in a ULEZ zone?
Yes, all Euro 6 cars have low enough emissions to allow you to drive in a ULEZ, LEZ and CAZ zone.
Benefits of a Euro 6 Car
A Euro 6 compliant car is beneficial for the environment, reducing pollution and reducing the impact on global warming. It also has a positive impact on people’s health given the impact diesel fumes can have on respiratory conditions.
Best Euro 6 Cars
We have put together a list of our top low emission cars that all conform with the Euro 6 regulations.
Euro 6 Diesel Cars
Diesel cars get a lot of bad press mainly due to the number of harmful gasses they omit. If you live in London and have a diesel vehicle that does not comply with Euro 6, which is a large majority of diesels, you will be required to pay £12.50 a day to visit the city centre. It’s not just our Capital either, many of our cities have already introduced similar charges with many more to follow.
However, you can avoid these charges by opting for a clean Euro 6 Diesel car instead. Since September 2015 all-new diesels have had to comply with these regulations so any diesel after this point is Euro 6 approved. However, there are some manufacturers that complied with the max levels before the regulations came into effect.
Our top low emission diesel cars
Audi A3 Diesel
If you opt for an Audi A3 Diesel from 2014 onwards you will be complying with Euro 6 regulations. This means that you can get a fantastic deal, especially if you opt for the previous model which has considerably dropped in price now.
You can’t really go wrong with an Audi, now one of the most sought after makes, an Audi excels on many fronts. The A3 is a stylish model and if you opt for the SE Technik version you can get some extra tech included.
Vauxhall Astra Diesel
Diesels often get a bad reputation for being noisy, but the Astra didn’t sign up to that fate. Using Vauxhall’s 1.6 litre diesel engine, this little motor is as quiet as a mouse. This model has also been Euro 6 compliant from 2014!
The Astra is a great family car and perfect for people who want a bit of a bargain. Cheaper than most of its rivals, even from brand new, the Astra is certainly not a car to sleep on.
Mazda 3 Diesel
Being environmentally friendly doesn’t have to mean slow. If you’re looking for something a bit punchier then the Mazda 3 might be the choice for you. It may not win any prizes for being economical, but it sure packs in the power.
The fourth generation is practically well received and is completely Euro 6 compliant too. Fun to drive and striking on the road, the Mazda 3 is one of our favourite picks.
Citroen C4 Cactus Diesel
Possibly the most recognisable car on the road, the Citroen C4 Cactus is another Euro 6 compliant car. The marmite of the car world, the C4 Cactus certainly splits opinions, but because of that, you can really find yourself a bargain.
The new model doesn’t have such prominent side panels, but both versions have low emissions and are perfect if you’re looking for a Euro 6 diesel car.
Honda Civic Diesel
With about a third of all people buying a Honda Civic opting for the diesel option, you’ll be in good company if you decide this is the motor for you. Another model where the design divides opinion, but we’re big fans of this sporty-looking family hatchback.
As with all the diesels on our list, the Civic has really cleaned up its act and is one of our top picks for the best Euro 6 diesel cars.
Euro 6 Petrol Cars
Petrol cars certainly haven’t been receiving the same level of attention as their diesel counterparts when it comes to omitting pollution, but that’s not to say every petrol motor is going to be compliant.
Our top low emission petrol cars
Ford Puma Crossover Petrol
This stylish small SUV is the first Euro 6 petrol car on our list. The Ford Puma (Crossover) has a mild hybrid 1.0 litre EcoBoost three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine which is a key component to keeping emissions low.
We’re not the only ones who love this motor, the Ford Puma was in fact named What Car? “Car of the Year” in January 2020 and for good reason. Perfect for the whole family this fashionable car is a popular choice.
BMW 5 Series Saloon Petrol
You can’t go wrong with a BMW. German made with exceptional style and build quality the 5 series is a joy to drive. The latest model comes with a choice of 3 petrol engines, all of which come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
Perfect for families, the 5 series is a class model that has ample space and is a delight to drive even on those longer trips.
Audi TT Coupe Petrol
If you’re after something a little sportier then you can’t go wrong with the Audi TT coupe. One of the most recognisable models from the exceptional Audi line up the TT is a thrill on the road.
It makes our list of one of the best Euro 6 petrol cars and is a great example that having a low emission car doesn’t mean a boring car. The coupe doesn’t have much room in the back but can be the perfect pick if you don’t need to worry about kids.
Citroen C1 Petrol
When it comes to an economical city car you’ll struggle to find something better than the nifty Citroen C1. This little motor is nimble and fun to drive despite not being the most powerful car out there.
Designed for the cities, it certainly is a great Euro 6 car and is a fantastic choice when looking to keep emissions low on a budget.
Ford Fiesta Petrol
We couldn’t round off this list without including the Ford Fiesta. Topping the best selling cars list year after year, the Fiesta is one of our most loved cars. The petrol is in fact a mild hybrid, making it super economical and low on emissions and perfect for the ULEZ areas.
As so many of these cars are bought new you can nearly always find a great bargain too.
Related – Best hybrid cars 2022.
Euro 6 Electric Cars
If the thought of a petrol and diesel engine just seems so old-fashioned to you, and you’re looking to go as green as can be, then our top picks for Euro 6 electric cars are for you.
Electric cars are zero emissions, meaning that every single one is Euro 6 compliant and will allow you to drive around Low Emission Zones worry-free. There are more electric cars than ever before and with EVs expected to outnumber diesels by 2030 manufacturers are on a mission to release more exciting models to fit everyone. But with all that choice out there, which electric vehicles should you consider?
Tesla Model 3
Tesla is the poster boy for electric vehicles, not even producing hybrids and keeping a safe distance from petrol and diesel. The futuristic Model 3 reimagined the driving experience with hi-tech and cutting-edge features.
The Tesla 3 Long Range version goes further and charges up quicker than any of its rivals also making it possibly the most convenient electric car. Not to mention its acceleration rivals that of a Porsche 911. The Tesla Model can also make one of the best cars for commuting too! Fun, practical, and Euro 6 compliant, the Tesla 6 is our ultimate top pick.
If you’re looking for an electric SUV look no further than the Jaguar I-Pace. Like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, this zero-emission Jag has received high praise for its bold move into the electric market. This handsome-looking car is a firm favourite when it comes to luxury SUVs and is a fantastic green option suitable for the whole family to enjoy.
If you’re looking to meet the low emissions standards in style then the I-Pace is the car for you.
Volkswagen has some great electric models already such as the e-Golf, but the ID.3 is their first fully original electric offering, not based on a petrol/diesel alternative. With plenty of space, this rear-drive motor is nifty on the road and perfect for those school runs and trips around town.
With subtle futuristic styling, the ID.3 does a great job of looking modern without sticking out being too in your face. We’re practically big fans of the interior with a clean contemporary look.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
The Hyundai introduced the electric-only Ioniq 5 to the market in March 2021 and makes our list of one of the best euro 6 compliant cars. With strong lines complimenting its ultramodern style, this Hyundai is a reliable hatchback with all the room of an SUV. The Ioniq 5 is super fast to charge and has plenty of space within.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller, then the Renault Zoe is our top pick for a small electric car. Unlike many of its electric counterparts, the Zoe is much more reasonably priced and is a great entry model for many people looking for an affordable electric vehicle.
Despite being on our roads for a decade, the Zoe is zero emissions and therefore completely compliant with Euro 6 regulations. If you’re not a huge fan of your electric car looking like something out of a sci-fi movie, then the Renault Zoe is perfect. The cute little city car doesn’t stand out against modern petrol and diesel cars, yet still retains all the advantages of going green.
Can you convert an older car to be Euro 6 compliant?
If you want to keep your current car or are planning to buy an older model you may have wondered if there is anything you can do to make it Euro 6 compliant and avoid those nasty daily charges within low emission zones.
You could consider converting your vehicle to Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), it typically costs about £2,000 and will often save you money in fuel costs. If you’re looking to be even more environmentally friendly and have a bigger budget, you could convert your vehicle to electric. This will set you back closer to £12,000 but might be the ideal solution for the dream motor.
Making older petrol cars Euro 6 compliant can be difficult due to the integrated design of the car. With a diesel it can be easier due to the majority of the process being in and around the exhaust.
Getting finance for a Euro 6 car
Getting car finance for a low emissions car is just as straightforward as a ‘normal’ car. All Euro 6 cars on finance are available with no deposit options and can be bought with a Hire Purchase Agreement as well as on PCP.
The UK Car Finance team will find you the very best rate possible from our panel of lenders. You can then use the finance package at any FCA-approved dealership in the UK. We can put you in contact with reputable dealerships who sell Euro 6 approved low emission cars. We can even speak with them on your behalf should you want our help doing so. If you’re interested then please feel free to apply, doing so has zero impact on your credit file and there is no obligation to take up the offered finance packages.