In this guide we look at the best-selling new cars of 2020. Scroll down to see a list of the top 10 sellers in the UK, which we’ll update as the year goes on. But first, let’s take a look at the health of the UK new car market in general.
THE NEW CAR MARKET IN 2020
As with so many things, the new car market has been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With showrooms closed and the public on lockdown for a sizeable part of the year, new car sales have taken a huge hit.
In November registrations were down by -27.4% compared with the same month the previous year. In total, 113,781 new cars registered in the month, with 67,730 going to fleets, 1,871 to business, and 44,180 to private buyers.
November’s results follow what has been a difficult year for new car registrations, with a combination of economic uncertainty, confusion over different fuel types, and changes in grants and taxes, particularly those associated with plug-in hybrid and electric cars, all taking their toll even before the arrival of the coronavirus. When COVID-19 then did hit and car showrooms were made to close in a bid to help slow the spread of the virus, car sales effectively collapsed. Eleven months into the year, new car sales were -30.7% behind the same time in 2019, with 1,498,382 units registered.
At the end of November, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the trade association that supports the UK car industry and monitors sales of new and used cars in the UK, estimated that around 660,000 new car sales had been lost in 2020, many of which were a a result of showrooms needing to be shut.
SALES DOWN ACROSS THE MARKET
Breaking the market down for November shows that sales of diesel cars were down by -56.2% compared with the same month in 2019, while petrol sales fell by -41.9%. Sales for pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles have grown (from a small base), with demand up by 122.4% and 76.9% respectively compared with the same month last year.
THE UK’S 10 BEST-SELLING NEW CARS OF 2020
Below are the 10 best-selling new cars of 2020, according to SMMT data. You can explore the availability of nearly new and used versions of these cars for sale on CarGurus by clicking on the links below each one.
1. Ford Fiesta
Number sold so far in 2020: 45,807
The Ford Fiesta has been a best-seller for year after year. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that it is stylish, competitively priced, great to drive, and cheap to run. The latest Fiesta is also available with the kind of technology you used to only find in larger and more expensive cars, such as active safety systems and smartphone mirroring.
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2. Vauxhall Corsa
Number sold so far in 2020: 43,410
The arrival of an all-new Corsa is big news for Vauxhall, particularly when it includes the introduction of an all-electric version of its long-running supermini. In 2020, then, it’ll be fascinating to see if Vauxhall’s latest take on the perfect supermini, which is more advanced but also more expensive than its predecessor, can continue to fly high in the sales charts.
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3. Volkswagen Golf
Number sold so far in 2020: 38,639
An all-new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf arrived in the UK in June. As ever, the Golf remains the family hatchback that really can do it all: it’s refined, comfortable, frugal, packed with technology and, in its performance-oriented models, it’s fantastic fun to drive, too. No surprise that it’s a regular fixture in this list of the best-selling new cars of 2020.
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4. Ford Focus
Number sold so far in 2020: 36,887
The latest Ford Focus adds cutting-edge technology and what is close to class-leading levels of space to what has always been one of the UK’s most popular cars. More impressive still is that Ford has achieved this while at the same time maintaining the fine driving dynamics that have always helped the Focus to stand out from other family hatchbacks.
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5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Number sold so far in 2020: 34,847
The latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class might look fairly conventional from the outside, but climb in and you’ll find one of the most tech-packed interiors of any family hatchback on sale. To get the full effect be sure to upgrade to the two large screens for the dials and infotainment system.
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6. Nissan Qashqai
Number sold so far in 2020: 30,863
Nissan kicked off the craze for so-called crossovers with the original Qashqai in 2006. More than a decade later it’s still reaping the rewards, and it’s hardly surprising. While its number of competitors has grown considerably, the Qashqai is still among the best when it comes to combining SUV styling with hatchback running costs.
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Number sold so far in 2020: 28,701
Despite the arrival of several competitors in recent years, it’s the MINI that remains as the most popular premium small car on the market. The latest model is available with three or five doors, and maintains the distinctive styling and entertaining driving dynamics that have always made it so popular. There’s also now a pure EV MINI Electric for those who want to make the switch to battery motoring.
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8. Volkswagen Polo
Number sold so far in 2020: 25,374
The Polo is a small car that offers the space and driving manners that you used to only find in models from the class above. With a range of frugal and responsive engines, and trim levels to suit most budgets, it’s no wonder the Polo continues to be a hit with buyers.
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9. Ford Puma
Number sold so far in 2020: 23,694
The latest Ford Puma trades in the small coupe style of the 1990s original in favour of being an on-trend small crossover. While fans of the original might not be too happy, the new Puma remains an impressive car in its own right. Its ‘Megabox’ underfloor storage area is genuinely handy, while interior space is good and the Puma is neatly styled inside and out. What really allows it to stand out though is the driving experience; Ford’s mild hybrid petrol engine is a great performer, while the Puma’s ride and handling make it truly involving to drive.
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10. BMW 1 Series
Number sold so far in 2020: 22,494
The latest BMW 1 Series ditches the rear-wheel-drive layout of the old model in favour of a more conventional front-wheel-drive platform. The result is vastly improved interior space, which finally allows the 1 Series to offer the same level of practicality as the Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class. While the move to front-wheel drive means the 1 Series never feels quite as well balanced as the previous model, it’s still a satisfying car to drive thanks to its weighty controls and agile handling.
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