Emissions are a big talking point in the car industry. The government has already announced plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030 and financial benefits of low emission cars, such as avoiding ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) charges in cities, has only added fuel to the fire.

Combine these factors with the overall consensus that the UK as a whole needs to reduce the number of harmful emissions produced by its cars, and it’s clear to see why hybrid and electric cars continue to increase in popularity.

All the cars in this list are Euro 6 compliant, meaning they have CO2 emissions less than 98g/km.

Best low emission hybrid cars

Toyota Yaris Hybrid - 92g.km CO2

The latest Toyota Yaris range is super economical, especially around town, thanks to a 1.5-litre self-charging hybrid engine. With an average combined fuel economy of 68.9mpg, you’ll save plenty of money at the pumps.

Every Yaris has a small 0.9kWh battery pack but it’s powerful enough to allow you to drive in electric mode in urban traffic for fairly long periods. This means the petrol engine isn’t working as often as usual, leading to sub-100g/km CO2 emissions. Once you’ve used your all-electric power, the car will recharge its batteries through braking (extra heat generated is sent back into the battery through what is known as ‘regenerative braking’).

There’s also an added performance boost from the (slightly) electrified unit, with all models getting a healthy 116bhp.

Renault Clio E-TECH Hybrid – 96g/km

Another frugal hatchback, the Renault Clio is a great all-rounder and has really come of age, with this self-charging hybrid (labelled ‘E-TECH’) version.

According to Renault, this unit allows drivers to save 40% in fuel consumption during urban journeys compared to a conventional fuel-powered vehicle. The E-Tech battery equips the car with a 1.2kWh battery that recharges itself using kinetic energy and, like the Yaris, can be used as an electric car for not insignificant distances.

The cost and eco-friendly benefits are clear to see too. Like the Yaris before it, the Clio has a very healthy 68.9mpg combined fuel economy. In the same breath, its 96g/km CO2 emissions mean it doesn’t produce many nasty emissions when compared to standard fuel-powered vehicles.

Kia Niro - 31g/km

After being radically re-designed for its current second generation, the Kia Niro is reasonably priced, spacious, very good on fuel and very eco-friendly. This last point rings true more than any, especially with the new Niro range carrying over its three types of electric engines – a self-charging full hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and all-electric model.

We’re focusing on the plug-in hybrid here. It’s slightly quicker than the full hybrid and a better on fuel. When used together, the 1.6-litre petrol engine and chunky 8.9kWh battery pack return an impressive combined fuel economy of 201.8mpg.

Most importantly, the battery is capable of allowing you to drive 30 miles (WLTP official figures) on purely electric power. Emissions are incredibly low as a result, with the plug-in hybrid Niro emitting just 31g/km of CO2.

Because of this car’s green credentials, you’ll find there are great tax breaks for companies that take out this car on a business lease.

Hyundai Tucson PHEV – 31g/km

Another SUV that has undergone some cosmetic updates in recent months. The Hyundai Tucson offers incredible value for money and impresses with its bold exterior design. In the case of the plug-in hybrid model, it’s also fantastic on fuel and for reducing emissions.

Hyundai has given its best-selling car a healthy 13.8kWh battery that works in combination with a 1.6-litre petrol engine to generate some impressive performance. Power is at 265bhp, which translates to nippy acceleration of 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds. Electric-only range is 38 miles (WLTP official figures) between charges, so most local commutes can be made without burning any fuel. Then to cap it all off, emissions are a mere 31g/km.

This makes the Hyundai Tucson PHEV a fantastic choice for businesses looking to reduce company car tax. Or if you’re a private buyer, you can seriously cut your fuel bill, especially when you consider that when combining the fuel and battery power, combined fuel economy is an impressive 201.8mpg.

Best low emission electric cars

Nissan Leaf – 0g/km

Probably the first modern mainstream electric car to kickstart mass uptake of the technology, the Nissan Leaf has been on our roads since 2011.

Six years on it was matured visually into what it is now the second generation Leaf. It’s much sportier than it was, while improvements to the range mean even the entry-level 39kWh battery has an official range between charges of 168 miles. While this might not seem that much, it was recently revealed that the average UK driver travels less than 100 miles per week commuting, so by all accounts it offers plenty of flexibility.

However, if you do need more range, check out the Leaf e+ which has a chunkier 59kWh battery that results in an official range of 239 miles.

As an electric car, it’s the best in the business when it comes to low emissions. Simply put, it doesn’t produce any! So, you can drive around having the peace of mind that your car isn’t emitting any nasty greenhouse gases.

Fiat 500 Electric – 0g/km

The Fiat 500 has always been a car that’s focused on being an economy car, ever since it came about in the mid 1930s. Back then it sold in huge numbers throughout Europe, as many drivers wanted to get their hands on cheap, reliable transport.

86 years later and plenty of innovation later, today’s all-electric Fiat 500 is the latest version of this ever-popular city car.

So, how good is it? Well, you’ll be glad to know that it’s shaken the stigma of being a first car bought for spoilt teen girls by their dads. Instead, it embraces its status as a small electric car, offering not just clean, crisp and modern looks, but also a very competitive range for a car this size. Officially you can get a range of 199 miles between charges when you opt for the bigger 42kWh battery. Otherwise, you’re looking at a 118-mile range from the smaller 24kWh pack.

With zero emissions being produced from the car while you’re driving, your new Fiat 500 will be exempt from road tax. If you’re a business looking to electrify your fleet for tax benefits, then the Fiat 500 is a great option thanks to it being on the more affordable end of electric cars.

MG ZS EV - 0g/km

The MG ZS EV touches upon so many trends that it’s hard to ignore, especially when you consider that it’s wrapped up in such an affordable package.

For starters, it’s an electric SUV, so it caters for environmentally conscious drivers that need enough space to cope with a family. Then there’s the range, which is either 165 miles or 225 miles (WLTP official figures) depending on whether you choose the entry-level 51kWh battery or ‘Long Range’ 71kWh unit.

Regardless of which version you choose, you’ll find that the trim line-up of the MG ZS EV has something for everyone too. Even the standard SE spec gets all the bells and whistles you need for a new car.

Another thing you’ll benefit from in all new MG ZS EVs is a drivetrain that produces no emissions. Like the other electric cars before it, the ZS EV comes with great tax benefits for company and private drivers alike.

Kia Niro EV – 0g/km

When it comes to simplifying electric car buying, the Kia Niro EV (previously the Kia e-Niro) is one of the best in business.

You won’t be left confused trying to decide on battery size, electric motor power and whether you want two or four-wheel drive. Instead, buyers get one choice: a 201bhp electric motor with two wheel drive and a 64.8kWh battery. This equates to a 0-62mph time of less than eight seconds and an official range between charges of 285 miles.

As well as being upgraded with a new design that is a welcomed change from the rather less styled e-Niro, all Kia Niro EVs produce zero emissions from a tailpipe. This makes it the perfect choice if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint and at the same time get tax-saving cost benefits.

What is a low emission car?

According to the UK Vehicle Certification Agency, a low emission vehicle (LEV) is one that emits less than 100g/km of CO2 emissions.

In the UK, average emissions per car are 138.4g/km, data from the Department for Transport has revealed. All this accumulates over time, especially when you consider that the average car drives 7,600 miles per year – this ends up equating to the average car emitting nearly 1.7m grams of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

What are the benefits of low emission cars?

  • Healthier climate – 91% of the UK’s transport emissions came from road transport, the biggest contributer of which is cars. Low emission cars will help us combat these numbers and ensure cleaner air for a healthier climate.
  • Cheaper tax rates for businesses – as company car tax is determined by the level of CO2 emissions your company car produces, you’ll make the best savings looking at new cars that produce less than 50g/km of CO2.
  • Avoid congestion/ULEZ charges – like we mentioned earlier, you can avoid congestion and ULEZ charges in densely populated areas such as London (currently the charge here is £15 per day per vehicle) by choosing a low emission car.
  • Less noise – hybrid and electric cars are much quieter than their combustion counterparts, which goes a long way in tackling noise pollution – a very real environmental issue connected to our health and well-being.

Which type of car has the lowest carbon footprint?

The Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius are widely recognised as having the lowest lifetime carbon footprint.

You should remember that it’s very difficult for any electric car, despite them all emitting 0g/km of CO2 while you’re driving, to be completely green and have zero carbon footprint. This is because fossil fuels are still required to generate the electricity that’s then used to charge these vehicles.

On top of this, there’s also emissions created in the manufacturing process of electric cars. There’s even battery and vehicle shipping to consider, with many mainstream electric cars and their batteries coming from overseas.

Want to read more of our guides to electric and hybrid cars? Head over to our other guides for the latest information on this new, green tech.