It was another tough month for car companies and their dealers in May. Private new car sales were down 84% in April, with fleet registrations down 93% as well, as the UK endured a second month of lockdown.
Things were slighly better than April, as some manufacturers and dealerships were able to operate click-and-collect sales, but that still only resulted in about 20,000 registrations compared to more than 183,000 for the same month last year. Read our full monthly new car registration report here.
As with last month, the monthly list of best-selling cars is fairly irrelevant, although it did look a little more normal than April’s results.
Hopefully, May’s results were the first step towards a more substantial recovery in June, now that showrooms in England have re-opened.
The UK’s ten best-selling cars, May 2020
1. Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 topped the charts again in May, continuing its successful run during the downturn. The numbers are still small, but Tesla’s early adoption of online car buying is certainly paying off at the moment – and will probably continue to do so in months to come.
The Tesla Model 3 currently holds an Expert Rating of 84% in our New Car Ratings database, which is certainly very good. However, there have been very few local reviews yet so this may vary by quite a bit (either up or down) in coming months.
2. Vauxhall Corsa
The new Vauxhall Corsa had another strong month (relatively speaking; it was still only 790 cars), moving up from third last month to second this month. And it gets bragging rights over the Fiesta for the second month in a row.
The new Corsa currently holds an Expert Rating of 70% on our unique aggregator scale, based on 22 reviews we have gathered so far. That puts it in the bottom half of the supermini class (ninth out of 14 cars we’ve analysed so far). This may change quite dramatically once more reviewers drive the car on local roads, but it’s still a disappointing score for a brand-new model. The new Peugeot 208, which is mechanically identical to the Corsa, is currently at 78%.
3. Ford Fiesta
After falling out of the top ten altogether last month, the Ford Fiesta popped back up into third place in May. It wasn’t a lot of cars (just 760 units), but with the Volkswagen Golf not featuring in the top ten again, the Fiesta edges a bit further ahead in the year-to-date registration numbers.
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 and the buying public are in agreement on the Fiesta’s qualities.
4. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes-Benz seems to have done a good job in getting its click-and-collect operations up and running in May, as the company had three cars in this month’s top ten (which must be a first, surely?). Predictably, the A-Class lead the way, in fourth place overall, as 552 people managed to take possession in May.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has an Expert Rating of 78% 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.
5. Ford Focus
Like its little brother, the Ford Focus reappeared in May. Its fifth-placing ranking translated to only 502 registrations, which brings it to less than 400 units behind the Volkswagen Golf in year-to-date registrations.
The Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% in our New Car Ratings database, which is better than most rivals but still 4% off the all-new Volkswagen Golf based on its initial launch reviews.
6. Volvo XC40
The brilliant little Volvo XC40 pops up in sixth place, making its first appearance in the top ten list. Like many cars over the last two months, it might be an achievement to savour as it’s unlikely to remain in the best-sellers list once life starts returning to normal.
The XC40 is the class leader among small SUV/crossover models, with an Expert Rating of 85%. A new plug-in hybrid model has recently joined the range, while a fully-electric version is set to arrive either later this year or early 2021.
7. BMW 1 Series
The new 1 Series hatchback breaks with long-held BMW tradition by being front-wheel drive instead of rear-wheel drive, a point that has caused consternation among BMW enthusiasts but has been well received by most of the motoring media. However, it definitely follows modern BMW tradition by being really ugly…
The good news is that it drives better than it looks. It has been generally praised for its driving dynamics, despite the switch to front-wheel drive, and currently holds an Expert Rating of 81%.
8. Mercedes-Benz GLC
It’s another top ten debut in eighth place, as the Mercedes-Benz GLC makes its first appearance on this list. Again, it’s probably more a reflection of Mercedes being able to supply cars quickly during lockdown rather than huge demand for the recently-facelifted SUV, so don’t expect the GLC to remain in the top ten once showroom sales resume in June.
The Mercedes GLC has received generally positive reviews from the UK motoring media, with scores ranging from average to outstanding. According to The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating system, the GLC is currently ranked above average compared to its premium SUV rivals, but falls well short of the best-in-class Audi Q5.
- Mercedes-Benz GLC (2015 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mercedes-Benz ratings, reviews, news and features
9. Ford Kuga
The all-new Ford Kuga’s UK launch was taking place just as the country moved into lockdown, so it was rather an inauspicious start for a car that Ford expects to be one of its biggest sellers over the next few years. The 300 registrations for May will probably include any last examples of the old Kuga, as well as first registrations of the new model.
The lockdown has also meant that there have been relatively few media reviews of the new Kuga for us to analyse, and all of those have been the plug-in hybrid version rather than the traditional petrol or diesel models. Based on a dozen or so 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. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
To round out this month’s best-seller list, it’s a third entry from Mercedes-Benz. I can’t imagine that we’ve ever had three Mercedes in the top ten before, but then there’s a lot about the current period in time that can be considered highly unusual.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the highest-rated car from Mercedes that we have analysed to date, currently holding an overall Expert Rating of 84%. A facelifted model is due to arrive over the summer, right about the same time that an updated BMW 5 Series hits the streets. Probably not a coincidence…