One the face of it, a 32% fall year-on-year in private new car sales for November seems pretty terrible. However, when you consider that showrooms across England were closed for basically the whole month, it’s a lot more positive.
Compared to the lockdown months of April and May, where almost no new cars were sold, the car industry was a lot better prepared in November. Many more manufacturers and dealerships were geared up to deliver cars to customers’ homes, or operate click-and-collect services, meaning that they could keep their businesses moving to a much greater degree.
Fleet deliveries did better than private sales for the first time in months, down 22% year-on-year, which meant that the overall market ended up down 27%. We analysed the market results last Friday, but it was more of the usual – diesel down, electrified cars up.
The UK’s best-selling cars, October 2020
1. Vauxhall Corsa
The Vauxhall Corsa returned to the top spot in November, continuing its best-selling run over the last six months. With only one month to go this year, the Corsa is probably too far back to overhaul the Ford Fiesta for full-year honours – it needs to outsell the Fiesta by about 2,500 units in a month, which is highly unlikely – but Vauxhall will be justifiably happy with the first-year performance of its new supermini.
The petrol and diesel versions of the new Corsa currently hold an Expert Rating of 71% on our unique aggregator scale, based on 25 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. Volkswagen Golf
The Volkswagen Golf enjoyed a similarly strong month to the Vauxhall Corsa to take a comfortable second place in the sales charts. It has also solidified third spot in the year-to-date results, sitting almost 2,000 units ahead of the Ford Focus.
More local reviews of different UK-spec Golf models are being published in the media, and the Golf’s formerly stellar Expert Rating is gradually starting to slip. The much-vaunted ‘all-digital’ interior has drawn criticism from several 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 is interesting to see review scores that are consistently below the previous model’s results.
3. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the country’s top-seller last month, and remained highly popular in third place this month. It is the fourth-biggest-selling car in the UK with one month to go, and that’s where it’s likely to end up with decent gaps to the Ford Focus above it and the Nissan Qashqai below it.
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
4. Nissan Qashqai
After falling out of the top ten in October, the Nissan Qashqai bounced back up into fourth place in November. It also retains its title as the best-selling British-built car, and looks set to hold onto that title for another year.
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 is due to be revealed early next year, 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.
5. Ford Focus
Surprisingly, the Focus was Ford’s best-selling model in November, outselling its little brother Fiesta by about 400 units. The Blue Oval’s big-hitting family hatchback has been under constant attack from rivals this year, with the Focus surrendering sales honours to its arch-rival, the Volkswagen Golf, and almost being usurped by the Mercedes-Benz A-Class as the year draws to a close.
An improved fleet market helped the Focus improve from eighth place last month to fifth this month, with fleet buyers appearing more loyal to Ford than private customers who seem to be lured away to a German badge. In terms of critical appraisal, the Ford Focus currently holds an Expert Rating of 80% in our Expert Ratings database, which is currently only one point behind the Golf and three points better than than the A-Class.
6. Mini hatch
The Mini hatch improved one place from seventh to sixth in November, although it remains in seventh place for year-to-date sales, and likely to remain there with only one month to go. It had been closing the gap to the Nissan Qashqai, but a strong performance from the Qashqai in November put paid to any hopes that the Mini might sneak past it by the end of the year.
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’ve now indexed the new Mini Electric model as well, and interestingly its score is currently only 73% – although this may change by a few points (either up or down) as more reviews are published.
- Mini hatch (2014 onwards) – Expert Rating
- Mini Electric (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mini ratings, reviews, news and features
7. Ford Puma
The new Ford Puma makes its fourth appearance in four months. While that may be good news for Ford and its dealers, it appears to have come at a significant price as the Puma looks like it is stealing sales from its hatchback sibling, the Fiesta, as well as other Ford models like the Focus and EcoSport. As long as those customers are staying within the Blue Oval family, however, Ford is probably not too bothered.
The bug-eyed small SUV has been popular with critics, currently holding a rating of 83% on our unique Expert Rating index. This remains a best-in-class result, but it has slipped a couple of points in the last month as we’ve added some new reviews and other sources have revised their initial opinions. A hot new ST version may help swing that score back upwards in coming months, however.
8. Ford Fiesta
The Ford Fiesta looks almost certain to retain its crown as the UK’s best-selling car in 2020, but it’s limping heavily towards the finish line. It was another disappointing month for the Fiesta in November, down in eighth place and only the third best-selling model from the Ford family.
Fiesta registrations were down by 36% compared to last November against an overall market that was down by 27%, as the UK’s favourite supermini continues to be assaulted by a combination of the successful Vauxhall Corsa and friendly fire from the Ford Puma – which is basically a Fiesta on stilts.
The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 82% in The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating index, which aggregates reviews from 25 of the UK’s top motoring websites. Tat’s only a point behind behind the SEAT Ibiza as class leader and some 11% better than the Corsa, so hopefully that will cheer up Blue Oval fans.
9. Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 seems to be getting comfortable in the top ten, making its third appearance in as many months. This will be cheering news for Volvo dealerships, and helped the brand to another excellent month – Volvo sales were only down about 4% compared to the same month last year in a market that was down 27% overall.
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 has recently joined the range, while a fully-electric version is now in production and set to arrive in UK showrooms in early 2021.
10. Audi A3
After making its debut in the UK best-sellers list last month, the new Audi A3 hung onto its tenth place again this month. Available as both a five-door hatchback and a saloon, the new A3 went on sale in summer of this year and supplies now appear to be moving freely.
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 just ahead of the Mercedes A-Class (77%). It’s still quite new to the market, so we may see this score fluctuate as more local reviews are added in coming months.