By: Andy Newbound
It’s always a fascinating time when Britain’s Top 10 best-selling cars for the year are announced. We’ve all got a favourite model, and it can be good fun finding out if that particular car has made it onto the chart. I’m still waiting for the Bugatti Veyron to make its appearance.
So, what can we tell from this year’s list? Well, I guess the first thing is that Britain’s car-buying habits haven’t changed too dramatically. Those four-wheeled stalwarts we’ve loved for years are still on the list; Ford’s ever-popular Fiesta takes its usual place for the umpteenth year.
I guess this year’s list also confirms that the biggest brands are the biggest brands for an obvious reason – they make cars lots of us like to drive. Ford, Vauxhall, VW and Nissan each have two cars in the top ten list. Even the least numerically-inclined of us will quickly work out that this doesn’t leave much room for any other brands. And it might not be too difficult to work out which models have made it either; we Brits are nothing if not predictable, I guess.
Happily, there are still one or two surprises lurking on the list, along with one or two notable absentees (including the Bugatti Veyron.) So, without further fuss…here’s this year’s list:
Once again, we find this usual suspect at the top of Britain’s most popular, outselling its nearest rival (also a Ford) by almost 15,000 units. The UK’s drivers clearly have an insatiable love affair with Ford’s supermini and it’s easy to understand why. Combining practicality, personality, incredible handling and quality, the Ford Fiesta is undoubtedly the Queen of the small car sector. It’s been around since 1976, yet this grand old lady shows no signs of abdicating – constant evolution has kept this four-wheeled favourite out front. It’s certainly going to take an impressive model to out sell this.
The closest rival, and perhaps heir to the ‘Best Seller’s’ throne is the Fiesta’s big sister, the Ford Focus. A replacement for the iconic and still much-missed Ford Escort, the Focus has been a mainstay of UK roads since 1998. It’s hard to believe that next year, the Focus will celebrate its 20th anniversary but the British public were quick to take it to their hearts. For drivers wanting space, performance, style and quality all bundled up into an attractive package, the Focus has massive appeal. It always has. Which is why it’s fixed firmly in second spot.
Hot on the heels of the Focus is the Fiesta’s spiritual nemesis, the Vauxhall Corsa. Compared to its Ford rival, Vauxhall’s Corsa seems like a relative newcomer but it has actually been around since 1993. Despite being some way behind the Fiesta in sales, the Corsa is still an incredibly popular car; thanks to its pleasing design, frugal pricing, generous spec and pleasing Vauxhall drive. Like the Fiesta, its fan base is loyal and supportive so the Corsa will continue to sell in the thousands.
Another stalwart, VW’s Golf shows no sign of losing its popularity despite the brand’s recent issues. Again, it’s no surprise really; the VW Golf is steeped in heritage and commands the respect and affection of a genuine classic. Although it has evolved and changed over the years, it has still retained its raw yet refined essence and is a genuine power marque. Few hatchback’s can match it for performance, power, prestige and personality – no wonder the VW Golf sells in such phenomenal numbers.
Small SUVs have been growing in popularity during the last decade, and leader of the pack is Nissan’s distinctive Qashqai. Something of a trailblazer, the oddly-named Qashqai whetted our collective appetites for small SUV types and continues to easily outsell its sector rivals. Perhaps as distinct and recognisable as the moment it was launched, Nissan’s flagship model thrives despite the best attempts of almost every other car manufacturing brand. They do say imitation is the best form of flattery, so I guess Nissan will feel very flattered indeed. And maybe a little smug too. Who can blame them?
Like us, you might be a little surprised to see the Vauxhall Astra in 6th spot; surely it deserves to be higher!? Judging by the number of Astra’s on our roads, you’d certainly be forgiven for thinking so. And the eye-catching new models certainly deserve to be flying off the forecourts. With stunning design, fantastic handling and great tech, all married with Vauxhall’s pleasingly economical engines, this has to be one of the best hatchbacks on the market right now.
Now for the first real surprise of this year’s top 10 list; a premium model nestled between the more accessible cars. Yet this could be clear a reflection of the Merc’s popularity among fleet drivers, looking for a solid saloon with genuine status. It holds its value too, which might be what’s persuaded so many leasing companies to include it as an option. Whatever the reason, the C-Class’s top-10 entry will have the likes of BMW and Audi rattled.
If you’re looking for a more grown-up supermini, you can’t go wrong with the long-established VW Polo. It’s not spectacular, and perhaps not quite as much fun as the more chipper Fiesta and Corsa, but that’s probably deliberate. The Polo appeals to a more practical driver, and there are lots of them out there. Built with VW’s famous quality, with perhaps a touch more refinement in some areas than its rivals, the Polo occupies a distinct and particular niche and does it well.
If you’re wondering why there’s no sign of the popular Audi A3, here’s your answer; the Mini has taken its place. BMW build-quality gives this appealing favourite added allure and with a five-door model recently added to the fleet, it’s clearly attracting a larger fan base. The Mini will always have a special place in the heart of our nation, especially those who can cast their minds back to the sixties and seventies. It’s iconic, a charismatic classic and clearly here to stay.
Last but not least, Nissan’s smaller crossover leaps into tenth spot; confirming that this quirky Japanese designed and British-built model has been warmly embraced by Britain’s car-buying public. Its choice of eye-catching colours, reputation for reliability and bold concept-car styling certainly grabs the attention. As with its bigger stablemate the Qashqai, the Juke has clearly stolen a march on rival manufacturers and with a head start this big, it will be a challenge to catch up.
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