Road tax changes next year, hitting big, thirsty-engined cars, but helping eco-models. Find out here what you'll be paying.

How much will you pay in road tax next year? The answers are here. It’s all change from 2009 as the system undergs fundamental changes.

1 Alternative fuel car discounts: Bands A-I – £20; J-M – £15. From 2010: £10, all cars

2 First year rate applies to new-car purchases. Rate then reverts to standard rates.

The annual fee wikll be fixed then as now, according to a vehicle’s fuel type and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The most obvious change is that the number of tax bands grows from seven to 13. Drivers of performance cars, executive saloons and big off-roaders, which emit high levels of CO2, will end up paying much more.

Typical cars in each 2009 band

A Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion 1.4 TDi 1 £0

B Mini Cooper diesel £20

C Fiat 500 1.2 Pop £30

D Renault Clio 1.5 dCi 106 £90

E Ford Focus 1.8 TDCi £110

F Citrn C4 2.0 HDi £120

G BMW 120i £150

H Audi A4 1.8 TFSi £175

I Mazda MX-5 1.8i £205

J Mercedes-Benz E200K £260

K Nissan X-trail 2.0i £300

L Land Rover Discovery 2.7 TDV6 £415

M Chrysler Grand Voyager 3.8 V6 £440

If you drive an older car, registered before March 2001, a simple two-band system applies. If the engine is 1549cc or smaller, you’ll pay £120 a year. Cars with bigger engines need tax costing £185 per year. The Government has announced that the lower rate will continue for 2010, but the higher one will rise to £200.

CO2 emissions levels are measured for vehicles as a new model undergs ‘type approval’ – a series of safety and other checks every model must pass before it begins UK sale. The CO2 figure for your car will appear on its V5C registration document.

If the CO2 figure is crucial to which car you buy, check in advance what it is for the exact model you’re considering, including extras. The figure will depend on the exact model, engine type, whether it has an automatic or a manual gearbox, and even what extras are fitted.

For instance, a standard Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion emits 99g/km of CO2, which exempts its owner from paying road tax. To save weight, this car packs a puncture repair kit rather than a spare wheel and tyre. If you pick one as an optional extra, the extra weight just tips the car’s emissions over the 100g/km threshold.