Ever wondered what we Brits are choosing to drive and why? Dynamo has collated a list of the most popular cars sold in the UK in 2021. There has been an undeniable shift in patterns, including body styles, powertrains and shopping behaviours.
According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), there were 115,706 new car registrations in 2021, which is 1.7% higher than the previous year. The industry is facing massive challenges – the pandemic, Brexit and semiconductor shortages that affected the production of most car manufacturers. With delayed lead times and continued uncertainty, we are extremely surprised to see this trend on the rise. However, while sales are up Year on Year, they’re still around a third lower than the pre-pandemic average.
With some manufacturers being more attractive due to larger dealer networks, lots of marketing offers and incentives, for example the more affordable hatchbacks such as Focus and Corsa; we are now seeing a clear rise in crossover and SUV models.
Another amazing statistic according to Alex of Better Leasing is the rise in the nation’s appetite for EV (Hybrid and Electric vehicles), with an 88.9% increase compared to 2020.
Unsurprisingly, diesel sales have fallen by a massive 46.9% compared to the first 11 months of 2020 too.
Our buying behaviours are also shifting; not so long ago a pursuit to buy a new car would consist of visiting a dealership over four to five times and making shortlisting on manufacturer websites, today’s purchase journey looks completely different. We are turning to online research, viewing and ultimately ordering.
So let’s dive into the list of best-selling car models of 2021, according to figures from the SMMT.
1. Vauxhall Corsa. Several registrations – 38,306.
Vauxhalls’ new, more refined, supermini was launched earlier this year. Not only adding to the design, but the powertrain is also now available in a pure-electric variant, boasting a very competitive 208-mile range.
This has clearly made a great impression on the consumer, as Corsa managed to overtake the Ford Fiesta, the UK’s most popular car for the last few years. The Corsa was the UK’s most popular car in 2021, with nearly 40,000 units sold.
2. Mercedes A-Class. Number of registrations – 29,510.
We must get used to seeing the A-Class in the top leading spot on this list, this car finished at number 5 in 2020 and seems to become one of the nation’s favourite due to refined interior and exterior design, surplus of available derivatives and abundance of tempting offers to put you in the driver’s seat of a premier car. The Mercedes A-Class finished 2nd in the most popular car sold in 2021.
3. Volkswagen Polo. Number of registrations is 29,478.
A class-leading vehicle that we’ve grown to love because of its comfort, good use of space and great road manners. VW have opened their order books for the new version due to be delivered in 2022, which could be why dealers are selling a great deal of their existing stock. Undeniably, this car has been topping charts year after year. We don’t see this changing, especially with the addition of more exclusive variants such as the Polo R-Line and Polo GTI. VW took the top spot for the Best-selling Car Brand in the UK, with the most popular car sold in 2021 being the VW Polo with 30,643 units.
4. Volkswagen Golf. Number of registrations – 28,666.
This is about consistency. The VW Golf has been on sale for nearly 50 years! It has become sort of a legend and a benchmark for the rest of the industry. A huge number of trim levels and engine choices are there to make sure that everyone can have a piece of Golf. VW’s family car entered its eighth generation. The Mark 8 Golf range has expanded with the estate, GTI and Golf R. This model doesn’t show any signs of losing its popularity, even considering that it is more expensive compared to the Corsa, Polo and Fiesta.
5. Nissan Qashqai. Number of registrations – 27,800
What a rollercoaster has 2021 been for this model? Falling behind the Kia Sportage and not appearing in the top 10 for the first 11 months of the year, it made a huge turnaround in November by becoming the third most popular car on the list. This is due to the new model now being delivered and we can see why. The Qashqai comes with updated clever technology, a sleeker interior and exterior, and a hybrid variant. It was even liked by the Sunday Times to name it their Small SUV / Crossover of the Year 2021.
6. Kia Sportage. Number of registrations – 27,297.
For a car that didn’t even make the top 10 in 2020, we found it quite surprising to see the Sportage topping charts at the beginning of the year. With a 2020 makeover, this model can now be ordered in multiple variants. We also cannot deny that the unparalleled seven-year warranty the manufacturer offers makes it a highly sensible choice.
Considering the tough competition out there, we are likely to see some great offerings for the Sportage in 2022 and their new model is due to arrive shortly.
7. MINI Hatch. Number of registrations – 27,176.
The MINI Hatch is certainly an appealing choice. It manages to encompass all the desirable – class, style, fun and functionality. From the MINI One to John Cooper Works, it has a lot to offer to a wide range of budgets and driving preferences. There is a five-door version as well as a brand new MINI Electric, which still offers the undeniable appeal of looks and performance.
The MINI continues to be a great British rival for German hatches such as Polo and A1.
8. Ford Fiesta. Number of registration – 27,000.
Fiesta’s numbers have certainly been affected by the semiconductor shortages in 2021. Very much so, it didn’t even make it to the top 10 some months this year. However, this is simply down to the supply. We are still confident that Fiesta is a strong contestant due to its great packaging, handling and fab looks. You might struggle to find one, but if you do – it’s definitely worth a consideration.
9. Ford Puma. Number of registrations – 26,870.
Who would have thought that the Puma name revival would lead to the innovation of such good handling and practical models!
In his review of the car, Jeremy Clarkson, who loved the washable boot well (known as the “megabox”), said that it seemed to be designed by “an actual person who leads an actual life”. It also comes with an ST version for those who like to add a bit of ‘kick’ to their SUV.
10. BMW 3 Series. Number of registrations – 26,115.
It is impressive to find a premium saloon car in the top 10; we can’t blame this choice. The new BMW 3 Series is simply stunning. This is all down to a huge number of variants that are available to choose from. Now available with a host of entry-level hybrids, including the Touring and xDrive, catering for those everyday needs. We cannot forget the punchier M3 version, an all-time favourite of performance lovers.
And with that, those are the top 10 cars bought in 2021! Which would you choose?
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