Private new car sales were down 99% in April, with fleet registrations down 97% as well, as the UK endured an entire month of lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Of those 4,000-ish new cars that did hit streets in April, most were for those who were working in essential industries, with some manufacturers able to supply cars despite dealerships being closed for the entire month. Read our full monthly new car registration report here.
As a result, the monthly list of best-selling cars is almost entirely irrelevant, as it bears almost no resemblance to genuine new car demand or sales that have been cancelled/postponed. Still, with the lowest number of new car registrations since February 1946, April 2020 may go down in history.
Bear in mind that the entire new car market for April wouldn’t have made the top ten list in March, and take the following results as more a matter of interest than anything relevant about the new car market.
The list of best-selling cars for April was possibly the most unexpected in history, as you’ll see. Who knows what May will bring?
The UK’s ten best-selling cars, April 2020
1. Tesla Model 3
To be fair to Tesla, the Model 3 has been selling very well since it was launched last August. Industry sources also suggest that Tesla’s business model of very few showrooms and largely online/home delivery sales process helped it continue delivering new cars after regular bricks-and-mortar showrooms had closed.
The Tesla Model 3 currently holds an Expert Rating of 84% in our New Car Ratings database, which is certainly very good. However, there have been very few local reviews yet so this may vary by quite a bit (either up or down) in coming months.
2. Jaguar I-Pace
If Tesla taking the top spot was a surprise, then the Jaguar I-Pace finishing second was even more of an upset. Not coincidentally, Jaguar had recently agreed a deal for 700 I-Paces with NHS Fleet Solutions, as well as supporting an electric car chauffer service in London. As fleet deals, the vehicles would presumably not have passed through the usual dealer channels.
The Jaguar I-Pace has received very strong reviews from the UK motoring media, and currently holds an outstanding Expert Rating score of 87% according to The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating system.
3. Vauxhall Corsa
It may not have been the glorious new model launch that Vauxhall was hoping for, but at it least claim that the new Corsa has outsold the Ford Fiesta…
We don’t have a split of exactly how many Corsas were the electric Corsa-e model, but with a fleet of them arriving in time for the (now postponed) UK media launch, it’s entirely possible that the top three cars in the UK were electric vehicles for the first time ever.
The new Corsa currently holds an Expert Rating of 71% on our unique aggregator scale, based on 19 reviews we have gathered so far. That puts it in the bottom half of the supermini class (ninth out of 13 cars we’ve analysed so far). This may change quite dramatically once more reviewers drive the car on local roads, but it’s still a disappointing score for a brand-new model. The new Peugeot 208, which is mechanically identical to the Corsa, is currently at 78%.
4. Vauxhall Crossland X
The surprise results keep on rolling as the Vauxhall Crossland X appears in fourth place. It’s the first time in a long time that Vauxhall has had two cars in the top five, although 143 registrations is hardly anything to get too excited about.
The Crossland X holds a fairly poor Expert Rating of 65% in our New Car Ratings aggregator, which is in the bottom half of its market segment and well behind the class leaders.
- Vauxhall Crossland X (2017 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Vauxhall news, ratings, reviews and features
5. Ford Tourneo Custom
This is not a Ford Transit Custom van. It’s a Tourneo Custom, which means it’s technically a passenger car. Even though it’s basically a Transit Custom with seats and a few more trinkets. Presumably a few fleet customers with essential business needed some and Ford was able to get them delivered.
We haven’t published an Expert Rating analysis of the Ford Tourneo Custom yet, as we have only one review of the current model from the 21 UK media sources we cover. If you’re interested, What Car? gave it a score of three stars.
6. Peugeot Rifter
What, you’ve never heard of the Peugeot Rifter? It’s officially one of the best-selling cars in the country! Part two of the ‘vans with seats’ section of the top ten list is the passenger version of the Peugeot Partner compact van.
Despite its Postman Pat origins, the Rifter has received reasonably positive reviews from the UK motoring media. It is considerably more space-efficient than a conventional family hatchback, although it can’t match them for overall refinement.
7. SEAT Leon
The current SEAT Leon has been around for eight years and is about to be replaced by an all-new model. This may well be the first time in its history that it’s been featured in the UK top ten list, just as it sails off into the sunset.
Despite its age, the Leon stil ranks strongly against most family hatchback rivals, and there will presumably be some good run-out deals available when dealerships reopen.
= 8. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Despite the whole country being locked down, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class stayed in the top ten. It slipped from seventh to (equal) eighth place, but who’s counting when we’re only taling about 72 units anyway?
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has an Expert Rating of 77% in The Car Expert’s New Car Rating system. It ranks highly for safety, winning awards from Euro NCAP, Thatcham and What Car? for its protective qualities.
- Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mercedes-Benz news, reviews, features and offers
= 8. Nissan Leaf
The third dedicated electric car in April’s top ten is the Nissan Leaf, which is also the most popular British-built car for the month (Jaguar may be a British brand, but the I-Pace is built in Austria). Although, to be fair, 72 units is probably the lowest number of cars to take that prize since before the Second World War…
The Nissan Leaf has received particular praise for its smooth, quiet operation and generous equipment levels. However, it has been criticised for not matching other electric cars, like the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro, when it comes to overall range.
10. Peugeot 308
To round out a bizarre top ten, we have another model that hasn’t seen such dizzying heights in its whole product life, the Peugeot 308. I also have no idea when Peugeot last had two cars in the top ten, but it certainly wasn’t in recent memory.
The second-generation 308 has been around since 2014, and currently holds an Expert Rating of 71% in our aggregated Expert Ratings database. That puts it quite a long way behind most of its rivals, headed by the new Volkswagen Golf.