Choosing a used car becomes ever more complicated. Never mind the colour, the spec or finding those perfect 20in alloys, now there’s also the small matter of terrifying acronyms: ULEZ (for ultra low emissions zone) and CAZ (clean air zone). These shouldn’t be confused with any congestion charge.
Whether we like it or not, having a car with a petrol or diesel engine that complies with air-quality regulations is becoming a must. These zones already exist in London (costing £12.50) and Birmingham (£8) and are soon to come to at least a dozen more major cities, including Derby, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne.
Get caught by the camera in the wrong car and there’s a £120 fine, so you need to know whether you have a Euro 4 petrol (usually from January 2006) or a Euro 6 diesel (usually from September 2015). However, you can’t trust the advertisement or seller when it comes to ULEZ compliance. The only places are official websites, such as urbanaccessregulations.eu, which covers the whole of Europe.
So, which ULEZ-friendly used cars should we be looking to buy?
If you’re going to do built-up areas properly, a small, light, cheeky and manoeuvrable micro-hatch makes fabulous sense. The Skoda Citigo is the perfect modern town-centre assault vehicle (as are its Seat Mii and Volkswagen Up siblings). Get a one-owner 2012 S with 55,000 miles for £2750. Then again, Daihatsus are just alt-Toyotas, and a 2008 Sirion 1.0 S for £995 with 60,000 miles is a fuss-free way to get around. It will never break down, either, and that’s the last thing you want to do in a city.