How far will the proposed road tax changes influence what we actually buy in the new car market? Not as much, perhaps, as the government likes to think. After all, if you want something like the admirable Fiat Panda you are never going to look at the (differently admirable) Audi A8 anyway. It’s those in the middle where an additional hundred or two a year in tax might count, especially where you have different tax bands for different versions of the same model, as with the Ford Mondeo. Even here, though, the increase in fuel prices is likely to have — is already having — a much greater effect. Which would make the green road-tax hike unnecessary, unless — surely not — it’s really a way of increasing revenue?
It won’t affect me. My Discovery was built before 2001, while the 3.5 litre Range Rover I’m tempted to buy (a gratifyingly polluting vehicle) pays no tax at all because it’s pre-1973. I can’t imagine it would be a decisive consideration whatever I wanted to buy, unless they added a nought to all the bands, but it might count for something if I were buying a smaller contemporary car.
There are more good new cars available now than ever and, relatively, they’ve never been cheaper. This is partly because previously little-regarded manufacturers such as Skoda, Seat, Ssangyong, Kia and Hyundai have elbowed their way into the market. They’ve done it not just on grounds of cheapness and value for money but because they’re competitive with VW, Fiat, Citroën, Ford, Peugeot and so on in terms of quality, too. Or more than.
In terms of size, utility and market segment, for example, the five-door Hyundai i30 competes in a league headed by the five-door Golf.