Last year saw the UK automotive industry grind to a halt as car showrooms were forced to close to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) demonstrate just how much this hit sales, as total car registrations fell by 29.4 per cent during 2020.
But among the downturn there are positive stats – not least when it comes to EVs, which surged in demand by 185.9% (108,205 registrations) compared to the previous year. Both plug-in hybrid and hybrid models also jumped in popularity, by 91.2% and 12.1% respectively.
But what about the new cars on the bestsellers list? Let’s take a look at the UK’s top 10 hits from 2020.
1. Ford Fiesta – 49,174 registered
Ford continues to be Britain’s most popular car firm, and it’s no surprise given the Fiesta continues to be the UK’s best-selling car.
Even in 2020, Ford managed to sell almost 50,000 units of its fun and affordable supermini, which remains one of the best cars in its class.
2. Vauxhall Corsa – 46,439 registered
The Vauxhall Corsa has given the Ford Fiesta a close run for many years, and this year the gap was even smaller with a new generation Corsa arriving at the start of the year. And no wonder – this Corsa boasts a more modern design, improved driving experience and range of new technologies.
You can also choose it as an EV for the first time, with the Corsa-e, which offers low running costs and a claimed 209-mile electric range.
3. Volkswagen Golf – 43,109 registered
Another staple car in the best-selling cars list, the Volkswagen Golf continues to be the best-selling family hatchback on the market, with 43,109 model registered in 2020.
Its fortunes were hit slightly by a next-generation arriving during the first lockdown – impacting sales – but a mix of outgoing models and new Golfs helped to secure this model’s success.
4. Ford Focus – 39,372 registered
Despite the rise of crossovers and SUVs, family hatchbacks like the Ford Focus remain popular with buyers, and this model proved especially popular in 2020, with just shy of 40,000 finding homes.
Ford enhanced the Focus in 2020 with new mild-hybrid petrol engines, which bring greater efficiency, while a range of trim levels will please buyers of all tastes and budgets.
5. Mercedes A-Class – 37,608 registered
The A-Class is a brilliant showcase of what Mercedes is capable of, bringing the quality, image and technology expected from this German brand in a compact package.
Available as both a hatchback and a small saloon, the A-Class is offered with a wide choice of powertrains – such as affordable petrol, efficient diesels, plug-in hybrids and mega hot hatches.
6. Nissan Qashqai – 33,972 registered
SUVs and crossovers have risen in popularity in recent years, but the model that continues to lead the sales charts in this segment is the British-built Nissan Qashqai – the model that helped to establish this market all along.
And even with an all-new model arriving in 2021, the outgoing Qashqai with its bold styling and affordable pricing continues to be a big hit with buyers – Nissan registering 33,972 examples last year.
7. Mini – 31,233 registered
When it comes to style and fun, few cars can beat the iconic Mini, as it remains one of the most desirable options on the market today.
Although practicality isn’t on its side, strong engines, a high-quality interior and great driving experience ensures the Mini remains a hit.
8. Volkswagen Polo – 26,965 registered
While not quite as popular as the Golf, the more compact Polo continues to be in-demand for many new car buyers, with 26,965 being sold in 2020.
The Polo is one of the roomiest cars in its segment, offering a level of refinement and comfort that you’d expect from a far more expensive model. A sporty GTI model will also appease the hot hatch fans.
9. Ford Puma – 26,294 registered
Ford recently revived its Puma nameplate for a new Fiesta-based crossover, and despite only arriving at Ford dealerships in 2020, it’s already one of the UK’s most popular cars.
With a mix of practicality, efficiency and a great driving experience (it’s the best car in its class in this respect), the Puma is a brilliant option. A hot ST model will also broaden its appeal in 2021.
10. Volvo XC40 – 25,023 registered
Rounding off the top 10 is the Volvo XC40 – a new entry for 2020 and a model that accounts for more than half of this Swedish brand’s total registrations.
With Volvo offering a comprehensive range of electrified powertrains, the XC40 plays a key role in this – offering a choice of mild- and plug-in hybrid options. With a new electric model on the way shortly, expect sales to continue to grow in 2021.