August is traditionally one of the two slowest months of the year (along with February) for new car sales, falling right before the new number-plate month of September. This year was no different, although the top ten had a fairly familiar feel to it.
Overall, new car registrations were down nearly 6% on the same month last year, as fleet buyers in particular continue to show reluctance to invest large amounts of money in new cars.
We published our usual market analysis this morning, and now we turn to a more detailed look at the ten best-selling cars for August. The list is dominated by Ford and Volkswagen, with seven of the ten spots between them, while Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz and Kia all have one vehicle in the top ten. Sadly, this month there is not a single British-built car in the list, with neither the Nissan Qashqai or Mini hatch making an appearance.
The UK’s best-selling cars, August 2020
1. Ford Fiesta
If you’ve just woken up after seven months in a coma then, well, you’ve missed a lot. You won’t be surprised to see the Ford Fiesta sitting atop the sales charts, but you would almost certainly be surprised to learn that it’s the first month since January that it’s taken the top spot. Oh, and there’s a deadly virus that’s taken over the world so you should probably Google that to get yourself up to speed.
After years as the undisputed best-selling car in the UK, the Ford Fiesta has had a tougher time of it in 2020. The Corsa has outsold it for the last four months, but a comfortable margin at the top of the table this month has stretched the Fiesta’s year-to-date lead back to more than 4,000 units.
The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 84% in The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating index, which aggregates reviews from 21 of the UK’s top motoring websites. This is higher than any other car in the supermini class – just ahead of the SEAT Ibiza – so it seems that motoring journalists still prefer it over the Corsa.
2. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf improved from fourth place last month to second this month, as the new Mk8 model starts to filter into showrooms and the outoing Mk7 model starts to run out. Expect to start seeing a lot of Mk8 Golfs in September as Volkswagen throws its full might behind the new company flag-bearer.
We’re gradually seeing more local reviews of the new Golf being published in the UK media, and it currently holds an Expert Rating of 83% in our database, which makes it the top-ranked car in its class. The rating is still fluctuating as more reviews are added, so keep checking back for the latest information.
3. Ford Focus
The Ford Focus held third place in August, although it fell behind its arch-enemy, the Volkswagen Golf. It will be interesting to see whether the Focus can go toe-to-toe with the all-new Golf in the September sales shootout.
In year-to-date registrations, the Focus has eased ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa, which had been nipping at its heels in July. However, August sales figures will be dwarfed by the onslaught of Septmber, even in this topsy-turvy year, so the order could easily be jumbled up in a month’s time.
The Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% in our Expert Ratings database, which is better than most rivals but still 3% off the new Volkswagen Golf based on its reviews to date.
4. Ford Puma
The new Ford Puma makes its first appearance in the top ten with an impressive jump into fourth place. The bug-eyed small SUV has been popular with critics, currently holding a rating of 86% on our unique Expert Rating index, which puts it well clear of its rivals in the small SUV/crossover class.
It remains to be seen whether the Puma can repeat this performance in September, but for now it’s officially one of the country’s best-selling cars.
5. Vauxhall Corsa
After two months at the top of the table, and four months outselling the Ford Fiesta, it’s a disappointing drop to fifth place for the new Vauxhall Corsa. It still holds onto third place in year-to-date registrations, sandwiched between the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, so Vauxhall’s French overlords probably won’t be too disappointed.
The petrol and diesel versions of the new Corsa currently hold an Expert Rating of 71% on our unique aggregator scale, based on 23 reviews we have gathered so far. That puts it in the bottom half of the supermini class, although the all-electric Corsa-e does score better with an Expert Rating of 76%.
- Vauxhall Corsa (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- Vauxhall Corsa-e (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Vauxhall ratings, reviews, news and features
6. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class slipped back one place to sixth in August, slightly off the pace of the top five. As it was last month, it remains the best-selling car with a plug-in version available.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 77% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert Rating index, based on 40 UK reviews. 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 ratings, reviews, news and features
7. Volkswagen Tiguan
Three months in a row in the top ten for the Volkswagen Tiguan, so it seems to be getting comfortable. It’s also best-selling family SUV this month, with the ageing Nisan Qashqai notably absent. It edged fellow family member, the Volkswagen Polo, for seventh place in August and is also closing up on the VW supermini in year-to-date registrations.
The Volkswagen Tiguan holds a strong Expert Rating of 79% in our Expert Ratings aggregator, which is not quite the best in class but certainly among the leaders.
- Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 – present) – Expert Rating
- More Volkswagen ratings, reviews, news and features
8. Volkswagen Polo
The Volkswagen Polo returned for a second month in a row in August, emerging just ahead in a tight contest with the Ford Kuga and Kia Niro. It placed eighth in August and holds that place in year-to-date numbers as well, but it’s only 45 units ahead of the Tiguan as we head into September.
The Polo holds an Expert Rating of 80% in The Car Expert’s New Car Ratings calculator, which is good but still a few points behind the class-leading Fiesta and the Polo’s Spanish cousin, the SEAT Ibiza.
- Volkswagen Polo (2017 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Volkswagen news, ratings, reviews and features
9. Ford Kuga
Stepping up one place to ninth is the new Ford Kuga. Clearly news of a recall and a resulting pause on sales of the plug-in hybrid version haven’t hurt demand for Ford’s new family SUV.
The new Kuga’s UK launch was just prior to lockdown, so there haven’t been too many media reviews for us to analyse yet, and all of those have been the plug-in hybrid version rather than the traditional petrol or diesel models. Based on the initial reviews, the new Kuga has received generally good scores and currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% – however, you can probably expect that to shift by a few points as we get more reviews of the whole range in coming months.
10. Kia Niro
The Kia Niro is the second top ten debutant this month, and it’s our first Kia sighting since March as the semi-regular Sportage hasn’t made an appearance since then. The Niro range comprises a regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric model (the Kia e-Niro), so it’s the fourth model in the top ten to be available in properly electrified form (not counting mild hybrids).
The Niro currently holds an Expert Rating of 69% in our aggregated Expert Ratings index, while the e-Niro is far more highly rated with a score of 89% – a whopping 20% better than the hybrid versions.