The Top-10 Best-Selling New Cars of 2020

James Allen
January 18, 2021

The car industry was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic last year, but that didn’t stop many people from buying new cars. According to the latest registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), more than 1.6 million new cars were snapped up by British motorists in 2020. Read on to see the top-10 best-selling new cars in the UK in 2020.

The SMMT data shows there’s a good amount of variety with the most popular cars, too. Seven car makers have been represented in the top 10 tables, with the best-sellers ranging from superminis to family hatchbacks and various SUVs of different shapes and sizes.

1 – Ford Fiesta

Number of registrations 49,174

With just shy of 50,000 examples sold in 2020, the Ford Fiesta ended last year as the most popular new car sold in the UK. It’s easy to see why the well-equipped Fiesta is so appealing. You may want to look elsewhere if you’re after a spacious supermini, though, as the Fiesta doesn’t have as much passenger or luggage room as some of its more practical rivals, but all versions are good to drive.

2 – Vauxhall Corsa

Number of registrations 46,439

The latest generation of Vauxhall Corsa ran the Fiesta pretty close in total new-car registrations for 2020. The generous kit lists help make the Corsa an appealing buy. It’s a bit of a shame that the latest Corsa isn’t quite as comfy as some alternatives, and space is also tight for taller passengers in the rear seats, but few small cars come with the Corsa’s choice of petrol, diesel and fully-electric power.

3 – Volkswagen Golf

Number of registrations 43,109

Rounding off the podium places in the 2020 new-car-sales chart is the Volkswagen Golf. Like the previous generation versions, the new Golf is a great all-rounder, with its well-built interior being a particular highlight. You may be disappointed if you’re expecting a big improvement in practicality because the current VW Golf is no roomier than its predecessor. The touchscreen can be fiddly to use when you’re on the move, but it’s more comfortable than most family hatchbacks.

4 – Ford Focus

Number of registrations 39,372

The Ford Focus has long been a strong-selling family hatchback for years, so it’s no surprise to see the latest version make it onto this list. The Focus is far from being the most practical car in this class, though, and the fiddly touchscreen controls can be a pain to use, but the latest version is more fun to drive than most similar-sized family hatchbacks.

5 – Mercedes A-Class

Number of registrations 37,608

It’s easy to see why so many family hatchback buyers picked a new Mercedes A-Class in 2020. Even without the cachet that comes with having a three-pointed star badge on the boot lid, the A-Class impresses with its posh cabin and its generous tech spec. Being a Mercedes, though, the A-Class is quite pricey by five-door hatch standards, and there isn’t a huge amount of room for passengers in the back, either.

6 – Nissan Qashqai

Number of registrations 33,972

A new generation of Nissan Qashqai is just on the horizon, but that hasn’t stopped you flocking to the current model in droves – with nearly 34,000 examples sold last year, it was comfortably the UK’s most popular new SUV in 2020. Because it’s one of the older cars in this class, the Nissan Qashqai’s touchscreen is starting to show its age, though this family SUV can still hold its own when it comes to comfort and running costs.

7 – Mini 3dr Hatchback

Number of registrations 31,233

The modern iterations of the Mini have long been hits with British car buyers, and the latest model is no exception – more than 31,000 new examples were bought in 2020 alone. A big part of the car’s appeal is its cute retro styling, and it helps too that the Mini is terrific fun to drive. You do sacrifice a bit of comfort for that grin-inducing handling, though, and there are more practical hatchbacks if that is a big concern for you.

8 – Volkswagen Polo

Number of registrations 26,965

Like the bigger VW Golf, the Volkswagen Polo is a very well-rounded hatchback that covers a lot of bases to a high standard. There’s a lot of space in the cabin, and the comfy ride means the Polo is a very easy supermini to live with day-to-day. However, the Volkswagen may not be for you if you’re after a little hatchback that’s a hoot to drive, and the car feels particularly sluggish if you go for the entry-level engine option.

9 – Ford Puma

Number of registrations 26,294

The Ford Puma is quite a new car in this company – the first UK deliveries began in January 2020 – but that didn’t stop this fresh-faced SUV being a bit hit with British buyers because the Puma ended the year as one of the UK’s most popular new cars. This compact SUV shares plenty of components with the dinky Ford Fiesta, so it’s very nearly as good fun to drive but noticeably more practical. Other small SUVs are more comfortable, however.

10 – Volvo XC40

Number of registrations 25,023

The smartly-styled, well-equipped and comfortable Volvo XC40 was the tenth best-selling new car in the UK in 2020. It looks great and comes with a decent amount of kit as standard, but some newer alternatives have better infotainment tech and feel more solidly put-together inside. It’s available with a range of petrol and hybrid engines, as well as an electric model.

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