The Ford Fiesta turned the table on its long-time rival, the Vauxhall Corsa, in February as the new car market endured another month under lockdown with sales down 35% on the same month last year.
With showroom set to stay shut during March, the UK looks set for a dismal first quarter of new car registrations. The siver lining to that cloud has been the rapid growth in online car buying, allowing dealers and manufacturers to avoid another complete shutdown like we saw last April and May.
Despite the challenging trading conditions, some cars still sold well. Or at least relatively well – February is usually the smallest month of the year for new car sales anyway, so a 35% drop in registrations will hurt a lot less than it will in March when new number plates go on sale.
The UK’s best-selling cars, February 2021
1. Ford Fiesta
After the Vauxhall Corsa drew first blood in January, the Ford Fiesta turned the tables on its rival in February to outsell the Corsa by more than 200 units.
The Vauxhall is still narrowly ahead in year-to-date registrations due to its bigger margin in January, but hopefully this will be a sales battle that rages all year long.
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.
2. Vauxhall Corsa
Despite slipping to second place in February, the Vauxhall Corsa keeps its nose ahead in year-to-date sales. However, even in the current pandemic and lockdown, March registrations are likely to dwarf those of January and February so we eagerly await next month’s results to see whether Ford or Vauxhall has taken the upper hand.
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
3. Nissan Qashqai
It looks like Nissan is determined to send the current Qashqai out with a bang, as it holds onto third place for the second month in a row.
The ageing 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. A replacement has been unveiled and arrive on UK streets this summer, but the new car will have a tough job in living up to the sales success of the current model over its seven-year run.
4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class improves from sixth place last month to fourth this month, although it remains in sixth for year-to-date figures. It was a close battle with the Qashqai, with the Mercedes falling short of third place in February by only 24 cars.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 77% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert Rating index, based on 45 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
5. Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 has made itself comfortably in the middle of the top ten, holding onto fifth place for the second month in a row, and unsurpringly sitting in the same place in year-to-date registrations.
The XC40 is the class leader among small SUV/crossover models, with an Expert Rating of 83%, although that score has fallen a couple of points from a previous high of 85% in recent months. A new plug-in hybrid model joined the range last year, while a fully-electric version is now in production and set to arrive in UK showrooms in coming months.
6. Kia Niro
The Kia Niro is another model that’s becoming a familiar face in the top ten. Ninth in January and now seventh in February shows that the Niro is becoming more and more popular with age. It’s also the only Kia in the top ten this month after last month’s second-placed Kia Sportage disappeared altogether in February.
The Niro currently holds an Expert Rating of 70% in our aggregated Expert Ratings index, while the e-Niro is far more highly rated with a score of 88% – a whopping 18% better than the hybrid versions.
- Kia Niro (2016 – present) – Expert Rating
- Kia e-Niro (2019 – present) – Expert Rating
- More Kia news, ratings, reviews and features
7. Volkswagen T-Roc
Two Volkswagens in the top ten this month, which is certainly not unusual. What is definitely different is that neither of them is a Golf or a Polo. The T-Roc small SUV pipped its similarly-sized sibling, the T-Cross, to seventh place in February.
The T-Roc currently holds an Expert Rating of 78% in our unique and clever Expert Ratings index, which has slipped from more than 80% over the last 18 months, but it’s very much still at the sharp end of a highly competitive sector.
- Volkswagen T-Roc (2017 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Volkswagen news, reviews, features and offers
8. Volkswagen T-Cross
Only 20 units separated the Volkswagen T-Cross from the T-Roc above it in February as VW’s small SUVs both enjoyed a much better month than its usual big hitters. Maybe Volkswagen is holding back its Golf supply until March?
The T-Cross has an Expert Rating of 79% in our Expert Rating index, which is 1% better than its sibling above, although like the T-Roc, that score has slipped slightly over the last year or so.
If you’re looking at the photos above and wondering what exactly the difference is between the two models, it’s easy – the T-Roc is blue and the T-Cross is silver. Other than that, the T-Roc is supposedly the ‘sporty’ one, while the T-Cross is the ‘sensible’ one.
- Volkswagen T-Cross (2019 – present) – ratings and reviews
- More Volkswagen news, reviews, features and offers
9. Ford Kuga
Making its return to the top ten for the first time since last August is the Ford Kuga, edging out the Focus for ninth place by only 15 units. It’s also the sixth SUV/crossover in the top ten, which is the highest we’ve had in a while.
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 whole range whenever we finally get out of lockdown and back to road testing.
10. Ford Focus
Bringing up the rear for this month’s top ten, as it was last month, is the Ford Focus. It also holds the same place in 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.