October was yet another chaotic month for new car sales, with overall registrations down nearly 25% – although it must be said, this was mostly due to a drop in fleet registrations (down 40%) rather than private purchases (down 3%).
Ongoing supply problems continue to plague almost every car brand, with individual results up or down depending on whether manufacturers can get enough computer chips to be able to build cars. Once again, that has led to a jumbled-up best-sellers’ list.
It was yet another disastrous month for the long-time reigning champ of new car sales, the Ford Fiesta. Ford only managed to shift about 500 of them in October, compared with nearly 4,000 in the same month last year. It also only sold about 500 Puma small SUVs. Given that these are two cars that would normally be a regular fixture in the top ten, it made a large dent in Ford’s overall numbers – although there was was some consolation that the Focus had its best month in a long time.
We’ve published our normal report on the monthly new car registration figures, with plenty of detail that you won’t find elsewhere. So let’s now look at the mixed-up top ten results for October 2021.
The UK’s top-selling cars, October 2021
1. Volkswagen Polo
The Volkswagen Polo celebrated a fantastic month in October. As well as topping the charts for the second time this year, its strong performance also lifted it from sixth to third place in year-to-date sales, and within touching distance of second place (currently held by its bigger brother, the Golf).
Most, if not all, of these sales were the pre-facelift model rather than the updated version that was expected back in September. The first of the new versions should be flowing through to customers in November.
The Polo currently holds an Expert Rating of 78%, which makes it one of the top-rated small cars according to our industry-leading Expert Rating index. Whether this will improve further once the facelifted model arrives remains to be seen.
2. Mini hatch
Despite being the oldest car in the top ten, the twice-facelifted Mini continues to sell strongly some seven years after the current model was launched, although it’s unlikely to finish the year in the top ten. It did almost snare top spot in October, though, losing out to the Volkswagen Polo by a mere 34 units.
The Mini hatch still holds a very solid score of 76% in our Expert Ratings index, which is one of the top scores in its class. The electric version doesn’t score so well, with an Expert Rating of only 63% that puts it close to the bottom of its class.
3. Nissan Qashqai
The all-new Nissan Qashqai continued its strong debut with third place in October, although it was pipped by the Mini as the best-selling car actually built in Britain.
Nissan will be hoping that it can maintain production levels to keep up this momentum. It’s certainly been a good start, and everyone up in Sunderland will have their fingers crossed…
We have compiled our Expert Rating report for the new Qashqai since last month’s registration report, and it puts Nissan’s latest contender right in the midfield with a score of 72%. It’s still early days and there’ll be more reviews to be published, so this could change – either up or down – in coming weeks.
4. Ford Focus
The only real highlight for yet another miserable month for Ford was the welcome return of the Focus to the top ten for the first time since April.
Previously one of the most popular cars in the country, the Focus has spent most of this year outside the top ten. It’s due a facelift that will arrive in the UK in early 2022, so this may be the last we see of the current version.
In terms of critical appraisal, the Ford Focus currently holds a score of 75% on our Expert Ratings Index, which is level with its fierce rival, the Volkswagen Golf.
5. Vauxhall Corsa
The king is dead, long live the king! We still have two months to go in 2021, but we may as well go ahead and get the coronation started. It’s now beyond doubt the Vauxhall Corsa will be the first car in a dozen years to depose the Ford Fiesta as the UK’s most popular new car.
The Corsa leads the sales race by more than 7,000 units, so Vauxhall dealers could close their doors for the last two months of the year and it would still end the year on top.
Despite its popularity, the petrol and diesel versions of the new Corsa hold a rather poor Expert Rating of 64% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index, although the all-electric Corsa-e manages a few points better at 67%. Those scores put the Corsa in the bottom half of the supermini class, suggesting that journalists are not as excited about the Corsa as customers seem to be.
6. Kia Niro
It’s a second month in a row for the Kia Niro in the top ten, improving from ninth place last month to sixth in October. Once again, Niro sales helped Kia perform well for the month, ending up third behind Volkswagen and BMW.
The Niro currently holds an Expert Rating of 62% in our aggregated Expert Ratings index, while the e-Niro is far more highly rated with a score of 84% – a whopping 22% better than the hybrid versions.
7. Volvo XC40
The Volvo XC40 returned to the top ten for the first time since February, and fell just short of pipping the Kia Niro for sixth place. Despite being on sale for nearly four years, the XC40 continues to sell well and remains highly rated by critics.
The XC40 is the class leader among premium small SUV/crossover models, with an Expert Rating of 79%, for the petrol/diesel/plug-in hybrid version. The new electric XC40 Recharge doesn’t fare quite so well, with an Expert Rating of 68%.
8. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is another big-selling car that has run into sales problems over the last few months due to a lack of computer chips to supply vehicles. This time last year, the A-Class topped the sales charts…
Fortunately for Mercedes, the Volkswagen Golf performed even worse than than the A-Class in October, which missed out on the top ten altogether for the second month in a row. That means that the year-to-date sales are incredibly close from second to sixth place, and with this year’s crazy rollercoaster of vehicle sales, it’s impossible to predict who’s going to prevail.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 69% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert Rating index. It ranks highly for safety, winning awards from Euro NCAP, Thatcham and What Car? over the years for its protective qualities.
9. Peugeot 2008
It’s a new face in ninth place, as the Peugeot 2008 small SUV makes its debut in the top ten. Registration nunbers will also include the electric e-2008. It’s likely to be a short-lived time in the best-sellers list, given the number of usual suspects that are currently underachieving, but it’s always good to see different cars and brands doing well.
Based on the 208/e-208 small car, the latest 2008 is rated as one of the better contenders in the small SUV segment. Our industry-leading Expert Rating Index scores the petrol/diesel 2008 at 70% and the electric e-2008 at 74%, both of which are scores that put the car in the top tier of the class – although still a few points behind the very best in class.
10. Hyundai Tucson
Making its second appearance in three months is the all-new Hyundai Tucson, which has drawn attention with its bold front-end styling. Hyundai (including Kia) has managed to maintain its production levels much better than most rivals during the semiconductor crisis, which has no doubt helped Tucson sales compared to many rivals.
It will be interesting to see if the all-new Kia Sportage – quite closely related to the Tucson – can enjoy a similarly successful launch in coming months.
The Hyundai Tucson currently has an Expert Rating of 75%, which places it well in the top half of all of the medium SUV marketplace according to our industry-leading Expert Rating index.