Compared to 12 months ago, April’s registration numbers look spectacular. In reality, they are still well short of pre-pandemic sales levels. But it was nice to see customers back in showrooms as the UK started the gradual return to normal life.
Whether it was the return to showroom sales or other reasons, the top ten has quite a different look to last month. Five of last month’s top ten disappeared from the list this month, replaced by some models that we haven’t seen for quite a while.
We’ve covered the detail of the monthly registration results already this week, so let’s look at the top-selling cars of the month.
The UK’s best-selling cars, April 2021
1. Vauxhall Corsa
The Vauxhall Corsa extended its lead at the top of the charts with another best-selling month in April. That’s three months out of four for the Corsa, as it doubled its year-to-date sales lead over the Ford Fiesta in the last month.
The petrol and diesel versions of the new Corsa currently hold an Expert Rating of 72% on our unique aggregator scale, based on 26 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 slightly better with an Expert Rating of 74%.
- Vauxhall Corsa (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- Vauxhall Corsa-e (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Vauxhall ratings, reviews, news and features
2. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class stepped up from third to second this month, edging out the Ford Fiesta by only nine units. Combined with the Nissan Qashqai falling out of the top ten in April, it means that the A-Class has now jumped the Qashqai to move up to third place in year-to-date sales.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 76% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert Rating index, based on 47 UK reviews. It ranks highly for safety, winning awards from Euro NCAP, Thatcham and What Car? in previous years for its protective qualities.
- Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mercedes-Benz ratings, reviews, news and features
3. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta-Vauxhall Corsa battle is inching ever further away from the defending champ. In April, the Fiesta fell 700 sales behind the Corsa, meaning that it now trials its major rival by nearly 1,500 units after the first fourth months of the year.
The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 81% in The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating index, which aggregates reviews from 25 of the UK’s top motoring websites. That’s some 9% better than the Corsa, so the motoring media still clearly prefers the Ford.
4. Ford Puma
One of the Fiesta’s problems is friendly fire from within the same showrooms. The Ford Puma is based on the Fiesta and had a very strong month in April, rising to fourth place in the sales charts and stealing sales from its hatchback sibling.
Ford’s little crossover has been popular with critics, currently holding a rating of 82% on our unique Expert Rating index. This remains a best-in-class score for supermini SUVs, but it has slipped a few points in the last few months as we’ve added some new reviews and other sources have revised their initial opinions.
5. Volkswagen Golf
It may sound surprising, but fifth place in this list is the best result we’ve seen for the Volkswagen Golf in several months. Like the Ford Fiesta above and Focus below, the Golf has had to contend with internal rivalries as well as external ones. The new ID.3 is Volkswagen’s own Golf-sized electric vehicle, which is taking sales off the Golf itself.
Year-to-date, the Golf has now improved to fifth place after leapfrogging the BMW 3 Series and Volvo XC40 .
As more local reviews of different UK-spec Golf models have been published in the media, the Golf’s initial stellar Expert Rating slipped from a high of 85% to its current level of 80%. The much-vaunted ‘all-digital’ interior has drawn criticism from reviewers, who have found it inferior to the more conventional cabin of the previous-generation model. It’s not exactly disastrous news for Volkswagen, but it’s interesting to see review scores that are consistently below the previous model’s results.
6. Ford Focus
Another sign that there is a fundamental shift going on in new car sales is the performance of the Ford Focus. Sixth place in April was a reasonable result for the Focus, but – almost unbelievably – it doesn’t feature in the top ten for year-to-date sales.
Like its little brother, the Fiesta, the Focus picked up some mild hybrid engines in the second half of last year, but it still lacks a fully-electric or plug-in hybrid option. It’s likely that we’ll see the PHEV setup from the Kuga mid-sized SUV drop into the Focus sometime soon, and Ford dealers will be looking forward to having a strong performer in the electrified family car marketplace.
In terms of critical appraisal, the Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% in our Expert Ratings database, which is now level with the slowly-slipping Golf and three points better than than the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
7. Audi A3
Popping up for the first time this year is the Audi A3. Available as both a five-door hatchback and a saloon, the new A3 appeared in the top ten a couple times at the end of 2020, but this is the highest we’ve seen it to date.
The Audi A3 has received generally good reviews from the UK media since it was launched, with an Expert Rating of 78% that puts it a few points behind the BMW 1 Series (81%) and a couple of points ahead of the Mercedes A-Class (76%).
8. Kia Sportage
After a cracking start to the year, where it was the second-best-selling car in January, the Kia Sportage then fell out of the top ten altogether in February and March. It’s popped up again in April, and a good result this month also means it has stepped up from eighth to seventh in year-to-date sales.
The Sportage currently holds an Expert Rating of 72% in our aggregated Expert Ratings index, which is midfield for medium SUVs but a couple of points behind the best-selling Nissan Qashqai and quite a margin behind the top cars in the mid-size SUV segment.
9. Volkswagen Polo
Clearly April was a month for returning favourites, as the Volkswagen Polo reappeared for the first time since about last September. Like many other historically big-selling hatchbacks, it’s had to contend with a shift in customer tastes, losing sales to VW’s own T-Cross and T-Roc mini-SUV twins.
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 its Spanish cousin, the SEAT Ibiza. A facelifted model has just been announced, which will arrive here in the UK in the next few months.
10. Ford Kuga
In tenth place is another returnee, with the Kuga back after dropping out of the top ten last month. That also means that it snatches tenth place in year-to-date sales from the Volkswagen Tiguan. It was also the fourth Ford in the top ten this month in what was a great result for the Blue Oval.
Based on reviews we’ve analysed to date – which are mostly of the plug-in hybrid version, the Kuga has received generally good scores and currently holds an Expert Rating of 79%. However, you can probably expect that to shift by a few points as we get more reviews of the unplugged versions.