February is always a quiet month for new car sales, and this year was a but quieter than the last couple of years, with new car registrations down about 3% on the same month last year.
The low sales numbers in February in August also tend to see some surprising shake-ups in the list of best-selling cars, and this month was no different. The same applies to overall sales numbers, as manufacturers can significantly influence overall market share by registering a few more cars here and there.
Bearing that in mind, February’s numbers look to be good news for Abarth, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Land Rover, Lexus, MG, Nissan, Porsche, SEAT, SsangYong, Toyota and Volkswagen, who all recorded double-digit growth against a market that was down 3%.
It wasn’t quite so exciting for Alpine, Audi, Dacia, Ford, Jaguar, Jeep, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Renault, Smart, Subaru or Suzuki, who all recorded a fall of more than 10% compared to last year.
But what about the top ten models? Well the usual order was shaken up a bit, so let’s have a look at how it all went down in February.
The UK’s ten best-selling cars, February 2020
1. Volkswagen Golf
The venerable Mk7 Volkswagen Golf jumped back to the top of the charts in February, a couple of months after it last occupied the top spot in December. However, its March results may depend on how much stock dealers have left before the all-new Mk8 Golf arrives.
Despite being on sale since 2012, the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf still holds an Expert Rating of 82% in The Car Expert’s New Car Ratings database, which is the best rating of any car in its class. Can the new model top this? (Spoiler alert: Yes, it can.)
- Volkswagen Golf (2012 – present) – reviews and ratings
- More Volkswagen news, reviews, features and offers
2. Ford Fiesta
It’s been a tough six months for the perennially best-selling Fiesta, with the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Golf taking turns at the top of the charts late in 2019 and Ford announcing a reduction in production due partly to a relative slump in UK sales.
After a strong start in January, the Fiesta slipped a bit in February, with sales down about 9% on the same month last year. It’s still comfortably leading year-to-date registrations, but March is one of the biggest months of the year so it could all change dramatically next month.
The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 86% in The Car Expert’s New Car Ratings database, which compares reviews from across the UK motoring media. This is higher than any other car in the supermini class, so it seems that motoring journalists and the buying public are in agreement on the Fiesta’s qualities.
3. Ford Focus
Like its little brother, the Ford Focus slipped back a place in February, although it actually sold better than it did when it placed second this time last year. It’s been a good start to the year for the Focus, and Ford will be hoping to maintain that momentum against the incoming new Golf.
The Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 81% in our New Car Ratings database, which is 1% lower than the outgoing Volkswagen Golf but about 3% off the all-new Golf based on its initial launch reviews.
4. Vauxhall Corsa
Fourth place for the Corsa will presumably represent the last of the old cars and the first of the new model. Usually customers and dealers like to co-ordinate new model arrivals with the change in registration plates, so expect to see a lot more all-new Corsas wearing 20-reg number plates in March.
It might have been a popular car over the last six years, but the Vauxhall Corsa only holds an Expert Rating of 64%, which is the lowest score among this month’s top ten cars according to our Expert Rating aggregator. Reviews for the new model have been somewhat better, and we’ll have all the details next month (assuming Vauxhall sells enough of them to rank in the top ten, of course).
- Vauxhall Corsa (2014 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Vauxhall news, ratings, reviews and features
5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The darling of the aspirational small car set continues to be the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, occupying its usual place in the midfield of the top ten. It was the fifth best-selling car in February, and currently sits in sixth place or year-to-date sales. Mercedes-Benz is the third best-selling brand in the UK so far this year, so maybe it’s time we stop referring to it as a premium brand and recategorise it as a volume brand, since it appears to be the very definition of mainstream based on its sales numbers.
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 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Mercedes-Benz news, reviews, features and offers
6. Vauxhall Grandland X
After first appearing in the top ten last month, the Vauxhall Grandland X moved up from tenth to sixth place in February, which also moves it up to seventh in year-to-date numbers. The largest of Vauxhall’s crossover family has been buoyed by a growing model range, with a plug-in hybrid powertrain now available.
Like the Corsa, the Grandland X doesn’t let average media reviews get in the way of scoring decent sales numbers. The Grandland X currently holds an Expert Rating of 69% based on 16 UK media reviews, according to our unique aggregator, which is in the bottom half of its class and well off the pace of the class-leading Peugeot 3008.
- Vauxhall Grandland X (2017 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Vauxhall news, ratings, reviews and features
7. Volkswagen Polo
The Volkswagen Polo moved up from ninth to seventh place in February, and also leapfrogged the BMW 3 Series in year-to-date sales to sit eighth. It’s the third of four superminis in the top ten chart this month, although as usual it’s a long way off the numbers generated by the Ford Fiesta.
The Polo holds an Expert Rating of 79% in The Car Expert’s New Car Ratings calculator, which is good but a fair way behind the class-leading Fiesta.
- Volkswagen Polo (2017 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Volkswagen news, ratings, reviews and features
8. Mini hatch
The Mini hatch popped back into the top ten in February, which may or may not have coincided with the first media reviews of the new Mini Electric model being published. The Union Jack-waving supermini edged out the Nissan Qashqai for eighth place by less than 50 units, making it the best British-built car in February (note: not all Minis are built in the UK, so you’ll have to check if this is something you’re particularly interested in).
The Mini hatch holds a very solid score of 80% in our New Car Ratings aggregator, which is better than most cars in its class despite being older than many of its rivals.
9. Nissan Qashqai
Afer a strong start in January, the Nissan Qashqai fell back a bit this month to end up in ninth place. In fact, it was only seven sales clear of tenth place. Unusually, that means it was neither the best-selling British-built car not the best-selling SUV/crossover model in February, which hasn’t happened for quite a while.
The ageing Nissan Qashqai currently holds an Expert Rating of 74% in our New Car Ratings database, which is midfield for the compact crossover segment and in the bottom half of scores for a top ten-selling car.
- Nissan Qashqai (2014 – present) – reviews and ratings
- More Nissan news, ratings, reviews and features
10. BMW 5 Series
OK, does anyone know if the BMW 5 Series has ever made it to the UK top ten list before? I certainly can’t remember it, but please let us all know in the comments section below if you do.
The 5 Series appears in tenth place this month, and only a few units behind ninth, so either a lot of chauffers have got brand-new BMWs or there’s a fair bit of pre-registration going on from BMW UK…
With a score of 89%, the new BMW 5 Series has the highest Expert Rating of any car in the top ten, according to our unique New Car Ratings aggregator. With outstanding reviews for both the saloon and Touring (estate) models, it’s also comfortably the highest-rated car in its class – which is no mean feat given the quality of its rivals.