Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?From 1 April 2017, Vehicle Excise Duty – commonly known as road tax – is set for some major changes. If you’re looking to buy a new car in 2017, you really need to know about these and how they might affect you.

The headlines are: road tax will only be free for vehicles with zero emissions, there’s a new flat rate of £140 for the majority of cars from year two, along with a new £310 surcharge for cars costing more than £40,000. Here, we take a look at Britain’s best-selling cars to see how they’ll be affected by the changes. In all cases we’ve selected a popular engine for the comparisons and looked at the total cost over three years.

Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi 75 Stop & Start: 79g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £0 over three years
From April 2017: £380 over three years

The Peugeot 208 was the 20th best-selling car of 2016, so there’s a fair chance it’ll be quite popular in 2017, too. Buy one with a 1.6-litre BlueHDi 75 Stop & Start engine on 31 March and you’ll pay nothing for the road tax. Buy one a day later and you’ll have forked out £380 in the first three years. Ouch.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid: 75g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £0 over three years
From April 2017: £305 over three years

You’d be forgiven for thinking that a hybrid supermini emitting just 75g/km CO2 would escape a hammering in the changes. But you’d be wrong, because the frugal Toyota Yaris Hybrid will be subject to a ‘showroom tax’ of £25 in the first year, followed by £140 for each year thereafter. Right now, the same car is tax exempt… for life.

BMW 1 Series 120d manual: 114g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £60 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Using the current rates, all sub 130g/km CO2 cars are free of road tax, or Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), to use its official name. From April 2017, only zero emissions cars costing less than £40,000 will be tax exempt. Thinking of buying a BMW 120d this year? You might want to place your order now.

Vauxhall Mokka X 1.4-litre Turbo: 140g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £390 over three years
From April 2017: £480 over three years

Although it’s not an exact science, the most efficient petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles tend to be the hardest hit by the new rules. Buy something less efficient, such as a Mokka X with a 1.4-litre Turbo and the hammering isn’t quite so severe. The first year rate is up £70, but there’s a mere £5 penalty for each subsequent year.

Fiat 500 1.2-litre 69hp Eco: 99g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £0 over three years
From April 2017: £400 over three years

Anyone considering a Fiat 500 with the super-efficient 1.2-litre Eco engine really ought to place an order before the end of March. Rather than slotting into the cheapest VED band A, it moves up to the fifth tier, resulting in a £120 first year rate, before moving to the £140 flat rate.

Ford Kuga 2.0-litre TDCi: 122g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Buy a Ford Kuga with a 2.0-litre TDCi today and you’ll pay no tax in the first year, before paying £110 from year two. From 1 April 2017, the three-year cost doubles, thanks, in part, to the £160 ‘showroom tax’.

BMW 3 Series 320i manual: 128g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

It’s a similar story for the BMW 320i, which is currently tax exempt in year one. We’d recommend buying an efficient petrol or diesel car before the end of March, but the issue isn’t as clear cut for gas guzzlers. In the least efficient ‘over 255g/km’ band, the ‘showroom tax’ goes up from £1,120 to £2,000, while the annual rate drops from £515 to £140. If you intend to keep a car for the long-term, it might be better to wait until April.

Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T 115: 128g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

The Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T 115 emits the same CO2 as the BMW 320i, meaning the rate of tax is exactly the same. However, under the new system, all cars above £40,000 will be subject to a £310 annual supplement for five years. This includes electric vehicles, meaning the Tesla Model S will no longer be tax exempt.

Kia Sportage 1.7-litre CRDI: 119g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £60 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Currently, the Kia Sportage 1.7-litre CRDI sits in a band lower than the Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T 115, but from April 2017 they’ll be grouped in the same seventh tier. So while the three-year rate is the same, the jump is more severe in the Sportage.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 200d: 111g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £60 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

The increase is the same if you buy a Mercedes-Benz A-Class with the excellent 200d engine and fitted with 17 or 18-inch alloy wheels. Opt for the 16-inch wheels and the CO2 drops to 106g/km, saving you £20 in the first year. Meanwhile, the 180d emits just 89/gkm when riding on 16-inch rims, saving a further £40.

Audi A3 1.4-litre TFSI: 105g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £40 over three years
From April 2017: £420 over three years

Audi’s 1.4-litre TFSI engine is an excellent unit, but come April, it will no longer be a brilliant tax dodger. The annual rate increases from £20 to £140, while the ‘showroom tax’ is up from zero to £140.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class 220d manual: 103g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £40 over three years
From April 2017: £420 over three years

You’ll experience a similar hike if you buy a Mercedes-Benz C 220d with a manual gearbox. It’s worth pointing out that an increase of £20 or £40 in the first year isn’t likely to make a new car any less attractive. No, the real difference comes in year two, especially with cars that are moving from zero tax to the £140 flat rate.

MINI Cooper 1.5 petrol: 105g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £40 over three years
From April 2017: £420 over three years

MINI’s excellent 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is rather special. It also happens to be free of road tax in the first year and subject to a £20 fee from the second year. You’ll have to dig a little deeper from April 2017.

Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI: 128g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Over three years, the rate of taxation for a Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TSI will double. We’d suggest buying one before the end of March.

Vauxhall Astra 1.4 Turbo: 124g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

We like the 1.4 Turbo engine in the new Vauxhall Astra, but it’s less attractive under the new tax rules. Of course, you might think the 82g/km CO2 1.6-litre CDTi would be a cheaper option, but in reality you’re only saving £60 in year one. From the second year, the rate is exactly the same.

Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi: 99g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £0 over three years
From April 2017: £400 over three years

Ouch. You’re in for a shock if you’re buying Britain’s favourite crossover. Choose a Nissan Qashqai powered by the popular 1.5-litre dCi engine and you’ll be £400 out of pocket over three years. It’s worth remembering that the changes don’t affect any cars registered on or before 31 March 2017.

Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDi BlueMotion: 106g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £40 over three years
From April 2017: £420 over three years

The only winners are buyers of electric and hydrogen vehicles costing less than £40,000, along with those buying a car with a big engine and intent on keeping it for many years. Choosing an efficient car such as a Golf BlueMotion and you’re likely to be out of pocket.

Ford Focus 1.0 EcoBoost: 108g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £40 over three years
From April 2017: £420 over three years

Many cars powered by 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines come in for criticism for their real-world fuel economy, but at least the cheap road tax is something you can rely on. Not from April 2017 you can’t…

Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 Turbo ecoFLEX: 115g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £60 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Industry experts are predicting a bumper March, as buyers rush to beat the tax changes and grab a new 17-plate car in the process. You can expect many Vauxhall Corsas to be registered in March…

Ford Fiesta 1.25: 122g/km CO2Road tax 2017: how much more will Britain’s best-selling cars cost?

Pre-April 2017: £220 over three years
From April 2017: £440 over three years

Along with one or two Ford Fiestas. Our advice: if you’re seriously thinking of buying a new car in 2017, it’d pay to check how much you could save by registering it before the end of March. A few hundred quid in your back pocket is not to be sneezed at. For the new tax rates, take a look at our five-minute guide.