It was a pleasant change to read the monthly new car registration report and see a significant improvement in most numbers, and a timely shot in the arm for the beleagured automotive industry.
Overall, the new car market was up by 11% compared to the same month last year, with private buyers leading the way as they did last month as soon as showrooms re-opened. Scottish and Welsh dealers had a particularly good month, which is not that surprising since their showrooms were closed for weeks after those in England had reopened.
The top ten list looked rather more normal than in recent months as well, helped by a significant increase in fleet orders compared to recent months. This pushed more familiar names back into the top ten, while consumer darlings like the Tesla Model 3 dropped out.
The UK’s best-selling new cars, July 2020
1. Vauxhall Corsa
Top spot for the second month in a row went to the new Vauxhall Corsa, holding on by the narrowest of margins over the Ford Fiesta – just 34 units separted the two superminis in July. It’s also the fourth month in a row that the Corsa has outsold the Fiesta, which will please Vauxhall’s management. The Corsa also overtook the Volkswagen Golf in year-to-date sales, and currently sits in third place.
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 news, ratings, reviews and features
2. Ford Fiesta
After years as the undisputed best-selling car in the UK, the Ford Fiesta has had a tougher time of it over the last year. July was the fourth month in a row that it was outsold by the Vauxhall Corsa, even if there was hardly anything between them. Against a market that was up 11% compared to last July, Fiesta registrations were down by 9%. The Ford still holds a handy 3,000+ unit lead in year-to-date registrations, but it’s no longer a given that the Fiesta will top the charts at the end of 2020.
The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 84% 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 – just ahead of the SEAT Ibiza – so it seems that motoring journalists still prefer it over the Corsa, even if customers haven’t over the last four months.
3. Ford Focus
The Ford Focus improved one spot in July, outselling the Volkswagen Golf by more than 1,000 units. It was also about 1,000 sales more than the Focus achieved for the same month last year, so good news for Ford’s mid-size family hatch.
In year-to-date registrations, however, a new threat is looming as the new Vauxhall Corsa is closing in fast for second place. Plus, of course, the new Golf will be hitting its stride by the time new number plates arrive in September. This could be a close battle all the way to the end of the year.
The Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% in our Expert Ratings database, which is better than most rivals but still 5% off the all-new Volkswagen Golf based on its reviews to date.
4. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf jumps from sixth last month to fourth this month, as the new Mk8 model starts to become more reily available and the outoing Mk7 model starts to run out. The Golfs only just pipped the Mercedes-Benz A-Class for fourth place, with just 25 units separating the two.
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.
5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class resumed its customary fifth place in the best-seller list in July, just pipped for fourth by only 24 units by the Golf. Having a plug-in hybrid option presumably helps sales of the little Mercedes as well, and it’s the best-selling car this month with a plug-in version available.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 77% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert 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
6. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan Qashqai is still holding on, despite being in the twilight of its life. Sixth place this month is a couple of rungs up the ladder from last month, and it also reasserts the Qashqai as the top-selling British-built car – although it only edged out the Mini hatch by 65 sales.
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. A replacement is due to be revealed later this year, although the timeframe may be subject to change in light of the chaotic economic conditions currently enveloping the industry.
- Nissan Qashqai (2014 – present) – reviews and ratings
- More Nissan news, ratings, reviews and features
7. Volkswagen Polo
The Volkswagen Polo made its first appearance since February, sitting in the middle of a very tight sales battle with the Nissn Qashqai, Mini hatch and Volkswagen Tiguan. It’s the third of four superminis in the top ten chart this month, although as usual it has only about half the numbers sold by the Corsa and Fiesta.
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
8. Mini hatch
It was another good month for the Mini hatch, eighth in July after being fifth last month and still holding seventh place in year-to-date registrations. The electric model has now launched as well, which certainly won’t do any harm.
The Mini hatch holds a very solid score of 80% in our Expert Ratings aggregator, which is better than most cars in its class despite being much older than many of its rivals. We’re currently aggregating data for the Mini Electric, and will be publishing an Expert Rating analysis on that in the next few days so check back soon.
9. Volkswagen Tiguan
Two months in a row in the top ten for the Volkswagen Tiguan, which is the first time it’s managed that for a long time. It’s also the third VW to make the list this month, and that hasn’t happened for a while, either. The current Tiguan has been on sale for four years now, which means there is presumably a facelift in the works that’s due to pop up any time soon.
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 news, reviews, features and offers
10. Ford Kuga
Rounding out this month’s top ten is the new Ford Kuga. It’s possible that the numbers will include the last remaining stock of the old Kuga, as well as the all-new model.
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.