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 July, new car sales did show signs of improvement, with registrations up 11.3% compared with the same month the previous year. In total, 174,887 new cars registered in the month, with 91,857 going to fleets, 3,101 to business, and 79,929 to private buyers.
July’s results follow what has been a difficult start to the 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. Seven months into the year, new car sales were -41.9% behind the same time in 2019, with 828,389 units registered.
At the end of June, 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 240,000 private new car sales had been lost as a result of consumers staying at home.
SALES DOWN ACROSS THE MARKET
Breaking the market down for July shows that despite the general improvement sales of diesel cars were still down (by -25.9%) compared with the same month in 2019. Petrol sales were almost identical, while sales for pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles have grown (from a small base), with demand up by 259.4% and 320.3% 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: 26,519
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. Ford Focus
Number sold so far in 2020: 23,126
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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3. Vauxhall Corsa
Number sold so far in 2020: 21,825
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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4. Volkswagen Golf
Number sold so far in 2020: 21,825
An all-new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf arrived in the UK in June, but that hasn’t stopped the outgoing model to continue to perform strongly in the sales charts. 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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5. Nissan Qashqai
Number sold so far in 2020: 17,777
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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6. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Number sold so far in 2020: 17,648
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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Number sold so far in 2020: 15,146
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: 13,046
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. Volkswagen Tiguan
Number sold so far in 2020: 12,822
Sales of SUVs and crossovers have rocketed in recent years, and the Tiguan is no exception. These days it outsells the Passat, making it VW’s third best-selling car behind the Golf and Polo. Those putting their money into a Tiguan get not only a very smart exterior and versatile, high-quality interior, but also VW’s range of efficient petrol and diesel engines. It might carry a price premium over the mechanically similar Seat Ateca, but its position here in the top 10 suggests buyers are more than happy to pay it. For those after seven-seater versatility VW offers an Allspace version of the Tiguan with three rows of seats.
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10. Toyota Yaris
Number sold so far in 2020: 12,676
As the only car in the supermini class that’s available with a frugal hybrid system, the Yaris offers buyers something genuinely different. Not only are running costs low, but the Yaris Hybrid is great to drive around town and has Toyota’s proven reliability record behind it. Throw in the availability of cheaper petrol-only models and even a high performance GRMN hot hatch, and the Yaris offers an impressively broad range.
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