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, new car sales have taken a huge hit.
In March, when lockdowns began in the UK, sales were down 44.4% compared with the previous year. This represents a decline that is larger even than what was seen during the last financial crisis in 2009, and means that 203,370 fewer cars were sold than in March 2019. All in what is usually the busiest month of the year for new car registrations.
March’s results follow what had already been a tricky 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.
However, it is March’s numbers that have caused 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, to downgrade its 2020 outlook. It now predicts that 1.73 million new cars will be registered in 2020 – a downgrade of -23% versus its previous market outlook for 2020. It has said it will publish a further outlook in April.
GROWING DEMAND FOR ELECTRIFIED VEHICLES
Breaking the market down for March shows that sales were significantly down in almost all sectors, be it private (-31%), fleet (-30.4%), diesel (-61.9%), or petrol (-49.9%). However, a strong start to the month for pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid vehicles did ensure that sales of such cars grew versus March 2019, by 197.4% and 38% respectively.
While combined these cars still represent small proportion of new car sales, demand is growing fast. How fast? As an example, in March 2019 pure battery electric vehicles made up 0.9% of new car registrations. In an incredibly difficult March 2020 that still grew to 3.8%, which represents 18,256 cars sold.
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: 15,897
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. Volkswagen Golf
Number sold so far in 2020: 14,587
An all-new Mk8 Volkswagen Golf arrives in the UK in 2020, 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. Expect it to be a regular fixture in this list of the best-selling new cars of 2020.
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3. Ford Focus
Number sold so far in 2020: 14,036
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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4. Vauxhall Corsa
Number sold so far in 2020: 12,064
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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5. Nissan Qashqai
Number sold so far in 2020: 11,808
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: 10,213
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: 8,595
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. Kia Sportage
Number sold so far in 2020: 8,374
The Sportage is one of the models responsible for transforming Kia from a curiosity into one of the most desirable mainstream car brands of 2020, not to mention a regular in this list of the UK’s best-selling new cars. As well as being stylish, well-equipped, and good to drive, the Sportage’s strength lies in its seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty. This provides consumers with the kind of long-term peace of mind that no other brand can match.
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9. BMW 3 Series
Number sold so far in 2020: 7,861
Along with the Porsche 911, the BMW 3 Series is a fine example of how to evolve a product to meet the latest standards of safety, emissions, and technology while at the same time holding on to all the things that made great in the first place. In the BMW’s case, these things include a sense of quality and refinement, along with a brilliant driving experience and a wide range of engines and specifications. It’s no wonder the latest 3 Series is selling so strongly.
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10. Volkswagen Polo
Number sold so far in 2020: 7,348
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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