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One in four drivers FAIL to pay London ULEZ charge

ULEZ fines

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) came into effect in April of this year. Since then, around 130,000 drivers have been fined £80 for not paying the £12.50 daily charge.

The charge is payable only for vehicles that do not qualify for exemption. One in four drivers of non-compliant cars hasn’t been paying up.

In total, the ULEZ has earned Transport for London (TfL) £26 million in penalties so far. The minimum fine is £80, doubling to £160 if not paid within seven days.

ULEZ fines

As a result of the high volume of fines being administered, TfL and London mayor Sadiq Khan have faced criticism. Has enough been done to make drivers aware of the charge? Especially as the zone is due to expand from 25 October 2021, to be bordered by the North and South Circular roads.

“It is worrying there have been 130,000 fines in three months,” said Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC.”There is more that needs to be done by the mayor to raise awareness of what the ULEZ means to drivers and businesses before he expands the area it covers.”

ULEZ fines

Transport for London says its publicising of the ULEZ has been adequate. It began a campaign to spread awareness more than a year before the zone came into effect in April 2019.

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone has been introduced to significantly reduce pollution in the capital,” said Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TFL.

“Transport for London has been running an extensive communications campaign since spring 2018 to make drivers aware of it.”

London ULEZ: The ultimate guide

ULEZ London

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is now live. So when does it run? Will it expand? How much does it cost? Who is and what vehicles are exempt? How can I dodge it?

To answer all these questions and more, here’s our one-stop guide to London’s latest step towards cleaner urban air.

What is the ULEZ?

Like the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), the Ultra Low Emissions Zone covers an area of London that drivers to have to pay to travel within.

Entering the ULEZ costs £12.50 and, unlike the Congestion Charge (which costs £11.50), the fee applies no matter what time you travel: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ULEZ will expand in years to come, too.

London ULEZ – which vehicles are affected?

ULEZ London

Only petrol cars meeting Euro 4 emissions standard, and diesel cars meeting Euro 6 emissions standard, are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge of £12.50 per day (on top of the £11.50 London Congestion Charge – see below).

It also applies to vans, minibuses, coaches, lorries and other heavy vehicles. For motorbikes, it’s Euro 3 or above that is exempt, which will cause issues for many riders of older bikes.

Euro 4 became mandatory for all new cars in 2005. Euro 6 was introduced for all cars and light vans from September 2015 (January 2014 for larger vehicles). Euro 3 came into effect for bikes in 2007.

Quick guide: vehicles liable for ULEZ charges

  • Petrol cars and vans: pre-2006
  • Diesel cars and vans: pre-2015
  • Motorbikes: pre-2007

Some drivers can take comfort from the fact that many older petrol-powered cars will be exempt. Diesel, as ever these days, is having a tough time of it: much newer diesel cars are obliged to pay the ULEZ.

Is a ULEV (ultra-low emission vehicle) necessarily exempt?

Confusingly, an ultra-low emission vehicle is not necessarily exempt from the ultra-low emission zone. We can’t think of any vehicles that fall into the former category that aren’t exempt, but this is the case if we’re to believe a statement on Transport for London’s website.

‘A ULEV is defined as a vehicle that emits less than 75g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre travelled and is capable of at least 10 miles of zero-emission driving.

A ULEV vehicle is not the same thing as a vehicle that meets the requirements of the Mayor of London ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

You can check whether your vehicle is compliant by entering your registration on the TfL website.

London ULEZ – where and when

Ultra Low Emissions Zone ULEZ London 2019

The ULEZ covers the same area as the current CCZ. It’s a relatively small patch in central London below Camden, cutting through Westminster, to the left of Tower Hamlets and above Southwark. It covers 8.1 square miles and makes up just 1.3 percent of Greater London.

However, the ULEZ will get bigger in October 2021, when the North and South Circular roads will serve as the new boundaries. While the Congestion Charge stops just before Camden, for example, the ULEZ post-October 2021 will cut off part-way into Barnet.

On the Transport for London (TfL) website, it also states that: “If you are driving any petrol or diesel vehicle within this enlarged area, you will need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge”.

How do I check if I need to pay the ULEZ charge?

We have a guide on how to check if you need to pay the ULEZ charge. You can also see below whether your area is affected.

You can check whether your area is affected by entering your postcode on the TfL website.

Those who live within the ULEZ catchment area, who are registered for the Congestion Charge discount, will not have to pay in full until the 24th of October 2021. This gives them the chance to get into an exempt vehicle.

However, they will have to continue to pay the T-Charge (toxicity charge) at a discounted 90 percent rate. 

Wait, what – Toxicitiy Charge? What’s that? Don’t worry, we have a guide to the London T-Charge too…

London ULEZ – how much is it?

The ULEZ charge is £12.50, payable by anyone in a vehicle that isn’t compliant, whatever time of day they enter. It’s £100 per day to enter for non-compliant vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

A key point to note: the charge doesn’t buy you 24 hours in the ULEZ. The clock restarts at midnight, so if you drive into the zone at 11pm and leave at 3am the next day, you’ll be expected to pay £25 – or £200 if you’re in a non-compliant vehicle over 3.5 tonnes.

What’s more, if you’re in the area when the Congestion Charge is applicable, the ULEZ charge is paid IN ADDITION to the C-Charge. The ULEZ charge does, however, completely replace the current Emissions Surcharge (T-Charge).

As you’d expect, if the fee isn’t paid, a Penalty Charge Notice will be sent out to the registered keeper of the vehicle.

How can I avoid the London ULEZ?

Ultra Low Emissions Zone ULEZ London 2019

A new update to Waze will allow London residents using the app to enter whether their vehicle is exempt or not. If it isn’t, the app will automatically guide you around the ULEZ/C-charge zone so you don’t have to pay.

For now, so long as you don’t drive into the Congestion Zone area, you’ll avoid ULEZ. In subsequent years, it won’t be quite so straightforward to avoid it…

How to check if you need to pay the London ULEZ charge

The London ULEZ is coming

Britain’s first 24-hour ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is now operating in central London on, and motorists are being urged to check to see if they need to pay it before driving into the capital. 

Most cars need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel within the ULEZ. Usefully, Transport for London has created an online checker to see if you need to pay the London ULEZ.

Drivers who enter the ULEZ in vehicles that do not comply with the new emissions standards will be subject to a £12.50 fee – and that’s on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge. This system replaces the current T-Charge scheme.

Unlike the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ is enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is thought this fact alone may catch out some motorists. 

The ULEZ covers the same areas as the Congestion Charge, but in 2021 it will be expanded to the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular roads.

Vehicles affected are those with pre-Euro 6 diesel and pre-Euro 4 petrol engines. Motorcycles built before 2007 will also have to pay the ULEZ charge.

The ULEZ will be enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle, but diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those registered after September 2015. Similarly, petrol cars registered after 2005 should meet the minimum requirements.

Yes, the age difference is that stark: ULEZ is likely to hit diesel car owners harder than petrol car owners. 

If in doubt, you can also use a an online too from data firm HPI, which also includes a breakdown of the different Euro emissions standards.

‘Out of pocket’

London Congestion Charge

Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI, said: “Research has already shown that over a third of motorists had not heard of the Euro Emission Standard classification system, while two-thirds of those who had were unsure what category their vehicle fitted in.

“The changes around vehicle emissions could give motorists a real headache and leave them out of pocket.

“Our online check is completely free and allows motorists to check the emissions standard of their vehicle and potentially avoid a fine.”

Some Euro 6 diesel cars are FAILING roadside emissions tests

Modern ULEZ-compliant car emissions are too high

A Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) report suggests a high risk of modern cars failing emissions tests at the side of the road in ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZ), potentially meaning that they shouldn’t be granted ‘free’ access.

The issue has been highlighted by Allow Independent Road-testing (AIR), an organisation whose AIR index ratings corroborate real-world DVSA test results.

AIR says some fully-homologated 2017 ‘Euro 6’ vehicles are emitting up to 20 TIMES the nitrogen oxide (NOx limit) observed in official tests.

Given that Euro 6 is generally the diesel car standard for permissible emissions in ULEZ, this presents a problem for regulators.

Cars that are emitting too much

Modern ULEZ-compliant car emissions are too high

Cars that score an ‘E’ in AIR’s A-to-E scale, which indicates high levels of NOx, include the Nissan Qashqai, which emits 17 times the legislative limit.

The Renault Kadjar isn’t far behind, emitting 13 times the limit. Cars like the Vauxhall Astra get a ‘C’ rating. Similarly sooty are diesel versions of the BMW 1 Series, Hyundai Tucson, Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60.

Contrast that with the Mercedes-Benz E 220d, which achieves less than half the 80mg/km NOx output for an A-rating.

Modern ULEZ-compliant car emissions are too high

Some of these manufacturers are working on fixes but, as we reported recently, Nissan is reluctant to act, even with capacity to do so.

“Cities who, in good faith, are using or plan to use Euro 6 as the threshold for access policies will not deliver the air quality improvements expected and will not solve their breach of urban air quality in the time required,” said Nick Molden, co-founder of the AIR Index.

Modern ULEZ-compliant car emissions are too high

“The DVSA’s latest test results confirm the importance of independent testing to provide confidence and transparency about actual emissions during on-road driving.

“We welcome the government’s publication of this report, which aligns with the results of vehicles rated for the AIR Index, and it highlights again that not all Euro 6 cars control NOx emissions to the same degree.”

Massimo Fedeli, Operations Director and Co-Founder of the AIR Index followed: “Car owners, policy makers and citizens in towns and cities where air quality is breaching European limits will be disappointed by both the poor results of these tests and the reaction of those car makers who refuse to take action to remedy the over-emission of NOx from these vehicles.”

Public to have their say on Heathrow Airport expansion

Heathrow Airport ULEZ planned

Heathrow has launched a 12-week consultation to give people the chance to provide feedback on its plans for future expansion.

The plan includes a new runway, rerouting the M25 through a tunnel, diverting rivers and moving roads. The public consultation is open until 13 September 2019.

People will also be asked to provide feedback on a proposed £15 charge for driving to Heathrow Airport as part of ‘tough new measures’ designed to reduce emissions and cut congestion.

The plans, which include the world’s first airport Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), would include a Vehicle Access Charge (VAC) for all cars and taxis entering Heathrow Airport. 

Minimum emissions standards would be introduced for vehicles entering car parks or drop-off areas at all terminals, but the ULEZ will transition into a VAC to coincide with the opening of the new runway from 2026.

Heathrow says the ULEZ will be identical to the London Mayor’s ULEZ and charges will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ULEZ emissions numbers

It means that petrol cars that fail to meet Euro 4 emissions standards and diesel cars that fail to meet Euro 6 standards will be charged to enter the Heathrow ULEZ. Taxis will be exempt from the ULEZ charge, but will be subject to the VAC when it is introduced.

The airport is powered by renewable electricity and aims to be carbon neutral by 2020, but is under pressure to curb pollution ahead of the opening of the third runway.

Aircraft taking off and landing produced 1.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2017, up 4.6 percent on 2015.

Meanwhile, emissions from passengers getting to and from Heathrow fell by 9.8 percent to 514,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent between 2015 and 2017.

‘A disaster for London’

Heavy traffic on the M25 near Heathrow

Val Shawcross, chair of the Heathrow Airport Transport Forum, told the Financial Times: “If Heathrow expanded without tackling issues like air quality, public transport growth, active transport . . . it would be a disaster for London.”

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Heathrow Expansion is not a choice between the economy and the environment – we must deliver for both. Today’s announcement shows that we will take the tough decisions to ensure that the airport grows responsibly.”

The precise details of the Heathrow ULEZ – including the proposed charges – will be confirmed when the airport submits its final Development Consent Order (DCO) application for expansion after public consultation.

Details of the Heathrow public consultation can be found here

ULEZ: The ‘death knell’ for small London businesses?

London ULEZ small businesses

Pimlico Plumbers CEO, Charlie Mullins, has lamented the introduction of London’s ULEZ ultra low emission zone, claiming it could be the death knell for small businesses based in the capital that can’t afford to upgrade their fleets.

Pimlico is the UK’s largest independent plumbing firm, with a fleet of over 250 vans running in the capital. Of these, 150 currently fall foul of the ULEZ standards.

“If I kept using my vans in central London, where we are based, it would cost me £908,000 annually in penalties – which is absurd,” says Mullins. 

Small businesses should be given time to upgrade

Pimlico Plumbers van

Mullins argues that non-compliant vehicles should be allowed to work through to the end of their useful life without the businesses getting penalised.

“Once older non-compliant vehicles end their useful life, all new ones will be fitted with Euro VI engines in any case. So, I don’t see why we’re rushing into this, when it’s just going to hit the backbone of the UK economy – businesses.

“It’s as if Khan [London Mayor Sadiq Khan] is prepared to fast track the London economy down the drain, in order to claim some non-existent green award.”

The Freight Transport Association has also criticised the lack of support for businesses. It claims the zone’s introduction will cause the fleet replacement cycle to be brought forward prematurely. This will be costly for businesses.

The market for Euro 6 vans is still relatively young. Most are under three years old at the moment, locking out many smaller businesses without the budget to invest.

Pro-business doesn’t mean anti-environment

Mullins does agree that London’s air quality is an issue that needs to be tackled. However, he believes a more pragmatic approach should have been taken.

“Combine Khan’s clean air clamour with a good helping of Brexit uncertainty, and there’s no two ways about it – we’re on the road to a recession, albeit an environmentally friendly one.”

Existing help for small businesses

London ULEZ small businesses

Not all small businesses have been ignored. There is a scheme for what the government calls ‘micro-businesses’. These are businesses with fewer than 10 staff. There are three options for qualifying firms:

  • £3,500 in scrappage towards the acquisition of a Euro 6 replacement vehicle
  • £6,000 for scrappage as well as a contribution to the running costs of an electric vehicle
  • £3,500 grant for the scrappage of a non-compliant vehicle for those who regularly enter the ULEZ

Needless to say, these measures apply to a very specific and limited demographic of businesses…

At present, any non-compliant heavier vehicle weighing between 3.5 tonnes, and buses and coaches weight over 5 tonnes, will incur a charge of £100 per day if they pass into the ultra-low emission zone.

ULEZ scrappage schemes: how to save money on a clean car

London ULEZ scrappage

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the new, stricter Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) standards, you’ll need to pay £12.50 to enter central London. You can read about the ULEZ and what it means to you or your business here.

Buying a new car or van that meets the emissions standards is one way to avoid the daily charge. However, this will either involve spending more money up front or signing up for a lengthy finance deal.

Either way, the ULEZ is going to cost you money if your existing vehicle is deemed to be too dirty for London.

ULEZ van scrappage scheme

If you’re the owner of a micro business or a charity, you can apply for the Mayor of London’s scrappage discount, with up to £6,000 available for eligible organisations. The scheme was announced at the end of 2018, with Sadiq Khan allocating £23 million to the van scrappage scheme.

To qualify, a micro business must meet the following criteria:

  • Have ten or fewer employees
  • Have a turnover up to £632,000, OR up to £316,000 balance sheet total in the preceding and current financial year AND
  • Have an active Companies House registration in the UK OR be VAT registered in the UK

Charities must be registered with the Charity Commission as an active charity.

rusty van scrappage

Eligible organisations can scrap up to three older, more polluting vans and charity minibuses, but the vehicle(s) must meet certain criteria, in addition to failing to meet the ULEZ standards. The requirements are:

  • The vehicle must have been owned by the business or charity for more than 12 calendar months before 22 February 2019
  • Insured for business use
  • Have a valid MOT and current VED
  • The vehicle must be scrapped at an approved Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF)

There are three different scrappage funds available, and these are summarised by Transport for London (TfL) as follows:

Option 1: Scrappage for frequent users of the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) (£3,500)

The vehicle being scrapped must:

  • Have been driven within the CCZ at least 52 times during the six months before 22 February 2019 – this will be checked against existing transactions in your London Road User Charging account
  • Be a pre-Euro 6 model light van (or charity-owned minibus) that does not meet the ULEZ standards

Option 2: Scrappage and purchase/lease of Euro 6 replacement (£3,500)

The vehicle being scrapped must be:

  • A pre-Euro 6 model light van (or charity-owned minibus) that does not meet the ULEZ standards
  • Replaced (by purchase or lease) with a Euro 6 light van or Euro 6 minibus (for charities only)

The micro business or charity must be registered at a Greater London address.

Option 3: Scrappage and contribution towards running costs (including insurance) of an electric vehicle (£6,000)

The grant payment is made up of £3,500 for scrapping eligible vehicles plus a £2,500 contribution towards running costs (including insurance) of a replacement electric vehicle(s).

The vehicle being scrapped must be:

  • A pre-Euro 6 model light van (or charity-owned minibus) that does not meet the ULEZ standards
  • Replaced (by purchase or lease) with an electric light van or electric minibus (for charities only)

ULEZ scrappage for lower incomes

electric cars in London

In February, the Mayor of London announced a new ‘scrap for cash’ fund to help low-income Londoners get behind the wheel of a ULEZ-compliant vehicle. Although Sadiq Khan hasn’t released details of the scrappage discount, £25 million will be available and the scheme will be launched later this year.

At the time, Khan said: “Our country’s filthy air is a national disgrace that shortens lives, damages our lungs, and severely impacts our NHS. City leaders across the country are united in raising the alarm about the dangers posed by poor air quality.

“I’m announcing plans to help motorists on low incomes, as well as micro businesses, to scrap their older, more polluting vehicles.

“However, Ministers must now show they can match my commitment. If we’re going to tackle the health crisis and social injustice caused by air pollution it is vital and only fair that a national vehicle scrappage scheme is funded and supported by the government.”

To check if your existing vehicle meets the ULEZ standards, visit the Transport for London website.

75 percent of Brits don’t know if they have to pay the ULEZ charge

ULEZ London

Research commissioned by Nissan has yielded some highly intriguing insights into the UK public’s knowledge of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). Or lack thereof…

As many as 75 percent of the motorists from their 2,000-person selection didn’t know what the Euro emissions ranking system was, and therefore, what their standing is when it comes to the ULEZ.

Awareness of the ULEZ

Barely one in three said they were even aware that the ULEZ was being implemented. Similarly, a quarter of those surveyed were not aware of government and industry incentives to move into zero-emission vehicles.

Thankfully, half of those surveyed agreed that the implementation of the ULEZ was a good idea. Indeed, as many as 35 percent agreed that such measures wouldn’t go amiss in other cities around the UK.

That falls in line with the 62 percent who said that air quality was the most dangerous health concern for regulars in urban environments.

Stories have broken recently regarding industry collusion around emissions. We can see public disillusion with internal combustion going up, as electric cars continue to make more and more sense… 

Will the ULEZ change what we drive and the way we drive it?

ULEZ London

As many as 31 percent of drivers would adjust their driving habits if the ULEZ charge was introduced in their city. That should be music to the ears of legislators. While the headline goal is to improve urban air quality, a side effect of reduced congestion won’t be sniffed at.

As for making the move to low or zero-emission vehicles, Nissan will be pleased that as many as 43 percent would be more inclined to switch to electric now they’re aware of the associated incentives, as well as news of the ULEZ.

As many as 27 percent of respondents said they’d be more likely to buy electric if similar low-emission zone schemes were implemented in other UK cities.

Fun-to-drive cars that dodge the London ULEZ charge

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

The Ultra Low Emission Zone comes into force in central London on April 8 2019. The pollution-based fee has struck fear into the hearts of enthusiasts, but it needn’t do. Petrol-powered cars need only comply with Euro 4 emissions standards, introduced in January 2005. In the spirit of saving money, our post-2005 choices won’t break the bank when it comes to buying, either. You can buy any of the following cars and drive in the capital (outside Congestion Charge hours) for free.

Vauxhall Monaro

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

We start with the car that sparked the idea. With team MR having a Monaro of its own, we checked whether we could enter London without a fee (what with a tunnel-run event coming up at the end of April). As luck would have it, we can, given ours was registered after January 2005. Against all odds, this pushrod V8 Aussie muscle car fits the bill.

BMW M3

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

The ULEZ doesn’t work on a case-by-case basis. All Euro 4 emissions-compliant petrol cars (registered from 2005) are allowed in. That includes the BMW M3 (E46) M5 (E60) and M6. If you’re an M driver of six-cylinder, V8 or V10 flavour, you’re in luck

BMW M5

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

Here’s a gratuitous shot of Chris Bangle’s 500hp V10-powered 5 Series. Because more cars should come with Formula 1-inspired engines. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one of the Touring estates, which are 10 times rarer than the saloon and, consequently, a lot pricier…  

BMW M6

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

The M6 arrived in 2005, just after the M5, with V10 thrills, two fewer doors and sleek looks. A classier slice of 500hp BMW life and available with a soft-top if you’re so inclined.

Honda S2000

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

This high-revving hero from the Land of the Rising Sun avoids the charge, too. Thanks to Euro 4 compliance , the S2K is free to fill the streets of London with the dulcet tones its VTEC four. Long may it sing all the way to 9,000rpm along Park Lane.

Honda Civic Type-R

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

The Civic Type R was in its prime around 2005. The fantastic EP3 generation was aging nicely, still teaching hot hatch newcomers a thing or two about exciting engines and chassis set-up. We were anticipating the arrival of the next generation FN2 model with bated breath, too. The Type R is one of those rare cars that has a ‘skunkworks’ feel to it. How does this well-priced practical hatch have a race-proven 8,800rpm engine? Those registered after January 2005 will be free to rip revs in the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Mini Cooper S

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

The supercharged version of the BMW Mini was in production until 2006. Therefore a select few late-registration cars will be allowed into the ULEZ free of charge. All owners of R56 generation cars (07-onwards) need not worry.

Renault Sport Clio

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

Now, this could be tight. The 182 variant of the Renault Sport Clio ran into 2006 (just about). If you own one of these hot hatch heroes, make sure you check your plate. If it’s an 05 or 55, you’re probably OK. Owners of 197 third-gen cars, drive on worry-free…

Renault Sport Megane

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

Like little sibling Clio, the ULEZ cut-off slices right through the end of the second-generation Megane’s life. Shortly to evolve into the hardcore lightweight R26 R, in 2005 the R26 was right at the top of the hot hatch pile, with sporty Recaro seats and a limited-slip differential. With 230hp from its turbocharged engine, it doesn’t hang about.

Vauxhall Astra VXR

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

Neither does the VXR. Unless, of course, you want to accelerate in a straight line. The torque-steering VXR produced a whopping 240hp from its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and made an almighty roar. That’ll sound good in the Knightsbridge to Piccadilly A4 tunnel.

Vauxhall VX220

Fun to drive cars ULEZ

Like the Monaro, the VX220 was the result of Vauxhall’s mad rebadging spree, and was related to the Lotus Elise. The sad news is that 2005 was the 220’s last year of production. Get checking those 54-plate cars in the classifieds for their compliance.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG

Fun to drive cars

Adding to the notion that this is a gratuitous list of mid-2000s performance cars, here’s the CLS 55 AMG. The original four-door coupe somehow managed to look incredible while having the silhouette of a banana. Less shapely E 55 AMG saloon and wagon variants were also available. Packing that massive raspy V8, it’s perfect for London posing.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG

Fun to drive cars

Another example of rumbly AMG goodness available in 2005. If the SLK is a bit small, the supercharged big brother SL 55 AMG was also in showrooms that year.

Mercedes CL 65 AMG

Fun to drive cars

Alternatively, try 2005’s most powerful series production car. The twin-turbo V12 600hp+ CL 65 AMG. If you want absolute power with wind in your hair, the SL came in 65 AMG flavour too. And, if you need two extra doors, the S 65 AMG saloon is the car for you. Whatever happens, as long as it’s got a 65 badge, you’ll be going very quickly indeed.

Audi RS4

Fun to drive cars

The B7 Audi RS4, the car that redefined Quattro (now Audi Sport) for the modern age, was just hitting the market around the cut-off period for ULEZ compliance. The 420hp 4.2-litre V8 was the star of the show, and would eventually find its way into the R8 supercar. It was a real peach to drive with an eager front end and prodigious balance. Also available in estate and cabriolet forms, it was a fly in the E46 BMW M3’s ointment.

Porsche 911 (997)

Fun to drive cars

Of course, Porsche’s sports car sweetheart has to be included, doesn’t it? Happily, the 997 is, for many, the greatest 911 ever made. With a 3.8-litre flat-six and rear-engined balance, the 997 is already a celebrated modern classic. Open-top and four-wheel-drive models were also available. Certain 05-onwards registered cars will be free to drive in the ULEZ. The second-generation Boxster arrived in 2005, too, so if a 997 is out of reach, you needn’t go without flat-six fun.

Aston Martin V8 Vantage

Fun to drive cars

Yes, the Vantage might seem a bit pricey, but it’s one of the most beautiful cars ever made and can be had for less than £30,000. It hit showrooms in 2005, so you’re all but guaranteed to be ULEZ-compliant. It was also available as a soft-top.

Jaguar S-Type R

Fun to drive cars

The year 2005 comes just on the eve of Jaguar’s renaissance. As such, it’s still an S-Type rather than an XF. No matter, the S-Type in R specification came with 400hp and looks that were, let’s say, softened by performance additions. You could fill central London’s streets with the whine of a supercharged V8 for less than £10,000. Also available with this engine was the more luxurious and arguably prettier XJR

Jaguar XKR

Fun to drive cars

Sat alongside the S-Type in Jaguar dealers was the XK. Yes, it’s vaguely related to the ancient XJS that it replaced. And yes, it’s a bit awkward-looking by comparison with the newer XK and the eventual F-Type show-stoppers that replaced it. Nevertheless, 4.2 litres of supercharged V8 power ought to be tempting and, of course, there’s a convertible version.

Electric mod: how to beat the London ULEZ on an Italian scooter

 

Electric scooter London ULEZ

Vespa and Lambretta owners have every reason to dread the introduction of the new London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) because the classic Italian scooters are being priced out of the capital. But thanks to a company in Walthamstow, there is a solution.

Retrospective Scooters has been restoring and maintaining classic Vespa and Lambretta scooters for two decades, and the company wasn’t going to let the ULEZ say arrivederci to its thriving business.

Which is why the company has custom-built an electric conversion kit designed for Vespa and Lambretta scooters. You could call it an electric ‘mod’.

Customised Italian scooters were a central part of the mod subculture throughout the 1960s, with riders accessorising them with extra mirrors, lights, luggage racks, flags and crash bars.

Ice cream and nostalgia

Mods in London

The full electric conversion kit starts at £2,495, and once fitted, the ‘Project:E’ electric scooters are exempt from VED and the £12.50 London ULEZ daily charge. A DIY kit will be available soon, should you wish to convert your scooter at home.

Crucially, the conversion doesn’t detract from the classic design – there’s no cutting, welding or grinding involved. The old engine, electrics and cabling are removed, with Retrospective Scooters installing a DC brushless electric motor, sinusoidal motor controller and a 18650 Panasonic lithium-ion battery.

A range of between 30 and 110 miles is possible, so you can head to Brighton seafront for ice cream and nostalgia, before heading back to London with a fully-charged battery. Sorted.

All scooters, motorcycles and mopeds will need to meet Euro 3 emissions standards to enter the London ULEZ from 8 April, or pay the daily charge. Generally speaking, this means all scooters and motorcycles built before July 2007 and after April 1979 are subject to the charge. Pre-1979 bikes fall into a classic vehicle category and are exempt.

‘Makes no sense’

Electric Italian scooter

Niall McCart, the chief scooterist and owner, said: “Economically, paying £12.50 a day to ride a scooter in London makes no sense. Losing any of these iconic scooters because of the ULEZ legislation is unforgivable. These scooters are made to last and can run for 50+ years. We had to come up with a solution to the problem.”

If the mod look isn’t your scene, Retrospective Scooters also offer a range of new electric scooters and mopeds, all backed by a three-year warranty and ULEZ charge exempt. Prices start from around £1,400.