The UK new car market received a much-needed shot in the arm in August, as year-on-year demand rose 23.1 percent, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A total of 94,094 new cars were registered, in what is, historically, a slow month for the new car industry. Here, we reveal the top 10 best-sellers. Stay tuned for a few surprises.
10: Kia Sportage – 1,321 registrations
The Kia Sportage creeps into the top 10, with a total of 1,321 registrations.
Commenting on the registrations figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It’s great to see such strong growth, particularly in the important electric vehicle market. However, given August is always a small month in new car registrations ahead of the important plate-change month of September, it would be wrong to view the market as booming.”
Other forces at play include the market responding to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and a raft of special offers. Kia is not alone here, offering a low-rate PCP deal on the Sportage, with a £1,000 deposit contribution.
9: Nissan Qashqai – 1,374 registrations
Diesel registrations are down 7.7 percent to 27,896, while petrol sales are up 39.1 percent to 58,619. Demand for hybrid and plug-in cars is up by a huge 88.7 percent, with a record one in 12 buyers going electric.
The Nissan Qashqai – the third best-selling car of the year – finishes ninth with 1,374 registrations. Mike Hawes said: “This past month has seen some significant variances as regulatory changes have disrupted some supplies. In the long term, however, the new emissions certification test will give consumers renewed confidence in the performance of all vehicles, helping them choose the latest, cleanest technology that best suits their driving needs, whether that be petrol, diesel, hybrid or plug-in.”
8: Suzuki Swift – 1,390 registrations
Here’s the first of three particularly surprising entries, with the Suzuki Swift making a rare appearance in the top 10. A total of 1,390 Swifts found a home in August – a great result from one of the smaller carmakers.
Commenting on the overall figures, Ian Plummer, Auto Trader director, said: “This may have been a very strong August, but of course it’s a false economy. As we saw in March 2017, when registrations were brought forward in advance of changes to Vehicle Excise Duty, WLTP will put huge pressure on September. What’s more, delays in producing and approving new car stock to the new rules is likely to continue into Q4, which will hamper sales as retailers and consumers will be limited to what’s available.”
7: Honda Jazz – 1,490 registrations
The Honda Jazz is another car to capitalise on a mad month, finishing August with 1,490 registrations. Prices start from £14,240 for the S, with the range-topping Sport costing £17,280.
We wouldn’t expect to find the Honda Jazz in the top 10 come September. Instead, look out for the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Ford Focus and MINI making a return to the top of the table.
There’s no place for the Skoda Octavia or Audi A3 in the top 10, which allows the SEAT Leon to make a rare appearance. SEAT has rolled out some pretty aggressive offers, including a £2,500 deposit contribution on the Leon.
6: SEAT Leon – 1,506 registrations
While August has been, relatively speaking, quite buoyant, the overall market year-to-date remains down by 4.2 percent. A total of 1,571,986 cars have been registered, down from 1,640,241 in 2017.
The BMW 3 Series is the only premium badge car to make the top 10, which sees it close in on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. A total of 1,847 3 Series were registered in August, but the BMW remains outside the top 10 year-to-date. Meanwhile, the C-Class is 10th overall, with 22,783 registrations.
5: BMW 3 Series – 1,847 registrations
James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said: “There has been a clear shift in the types of car people want to drive – and demand for hybrid or pure electric cars is booming. The AA’s own data echoes this trend, and our research shows drivers are ever more aware of their carbon footprint when choosing a new car.”
Fairclough continued: “Sales of diesels are still down, but nowhere near the level which we have become accustomed to in recent times. This hints at car buyers’ increased awareness of how clean the next generation of diesel cars actually is, following the government’s Road to Zero strategy.”
We’ll be seeing a next-generation BMW 3 Series at the Paris Motor Show next month. For now, it’s the current modelt that’s drawing in UK car buyers.
4: Ford Kuga – 1,902 registrations
Fairclough added: “Sales of diesels are still down, but nowhere near the level which we have become accustomed to in recent times. This hints at car buyers’ increased awareness of how clean the next generation of diesel cars actually is, following the government’s Road to Zero strategy.”
The Ford Kuga takes advantage of a weird month by taking the crown as the country’s most popular SUV. There follows a big gap before we arrive at the car in third position.
3: Volkswagen Polo – 3,207 registrations
The top three is devoid of surprises, with the Volkswagen Polo finishing third with 3,207 registrations. The Polo is available with a £1,000 finance contribution and 4.9 percent APR finance.
The Volkswagen Polo can trace its roots back to 1975, with the current sixth-generation model available from £14,235 for the S 1.0 65PS five-speed manual.
2: Volkswagen Golf – 4,180 registrations
If only everything in life was as predictable as naming the top two best-sellers in the UK. The Volkswagen Golf romps home in second place with 4,180 registrations.
Prices start from £18,340 for the entry-level three-door S model, with the range-topping Golf R costing upwards of £34,000.
1: Ford Fiesta – 4,552 registrations
There’s no surprise at the top, where the Ford Fiesta finishes just ahead of the Golf. Ford has shifted 67,189 Fiestas this year, cementing its position as the nation’s most popular car.
You can expect to find the Fiesta at the top again in September, but the plate change should result in some more familiar names in the top 10. The industry will be hoping for another shot in the arm.