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Britain’s best-selling cars of 2022

After a stunning second half of the year, the British-built Nissan Qashqai is the UK's best-selling car for 2022

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After two months at the top, the British-built Nissan Qashqai has been crowned the UK’s best-selling car for 2022, ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa and Tesla Model Y.

Despite growing cost of living concerns, December marked the fifth month of consecutive new car market growth, according to the latest data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Over the whole year, just over 1.6 million new cars were sold in the UK in 2022, which was broadly similar to new car registrations in both 2021 and 2020, although still down on previous years. However, as the new car market shifts towards electrification and we stare at another year of squeezed household budgets, we may never see pre-pandemic sales numbers returning to the new car market.

The big news for 2022 new car sales was that the country’s most popular new car was one actually built here in the UK. It’s been a household name for family motoring for about 15 years, but the Nissan Qashqai – designed in London, developed in the Midlands and built in Sunderland – finally topped the sales charts in 2022.

The Qashqai’s charge to victory gathered pace in the second half of the year, recording stunning sales figures in September and then remaining strong over the last quarter.

Meanwhile, last year’s top seller went in the opposite direction. The Vauxhall Corsa started the year strongly, and over the summer looked to be comfortably on course to retain its sales crown. However, sales nosedived in recent months – presumably as a result of supply isues that Vauxhall had previously managed to avoid over the previous 12 months. It still ended the year in second place, but only just…

As in 2021, the buggest disruptor of the year was Tesla. Operating completely differently to every other car manufacturer, registrations of the company’s two models fluctuated wildly throughout the year. Ultimately, the Tesla Model Y was the third best-selling new car in the UK, with nearly a third of its registrations coming in the last month of the year – nearly 11,000 registrations in a single month is a record result, as far as we can tell.

The last month of 2022 saw something of a mixed-up top ten, with five unexpected models popping up in the best-sellers’ list. The Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen T-Roc, Toyota Yaris and Volvo XC40 have all appeared previously but are not regulars, while Nissan Leaf made its first top ten appearance (that we can find), in a further piece of good news for Nissan’s Sunderland workforce.

In terms of full-year sales, four of this year’s top ten are new or returning models. From last year’s top ten, the Tesla Model 3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Polo and Toyota Yaris all fell out this year, to be replaced by the Tesla Model Y, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga and Ford Fiesta.

Sales results for each car manufacturer (and even for each model range) continued to defined by supply factors, as car companies battle component shortages – a hangover of the Covid situation from the last two years and supply problems resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Things have been improving in recent months, so hopefully that will carry forward into 2023. Mind you, with China facing a fresh Covid meltdown, the rollercoaster may well carry on for a while yet…

Read our monthly report: Tesla charges to top place in December new car sales

Top ten best sellers, December 2022

1Tesla Model Y10,664
2Tesla Model 35,704
3Nissan Qashqai3,506
4Mini hatch3,319
5Volkswagen T-Roc2,325
6Toyota Yaris2,020
7Volvo XC401,869
8Ford Fiesta1,814
9Nissan Leaf1,783
10Ford Puma1,782
Source: SMMT
Tesla Model Y

Britain’s best-selling cars of 2022

1. Nissan Qashqai

2021 Nissan Qashqai front view | Expert Rating

The current jewel in the crown of the British car manufacturing industry, the Nissan Qashqai has been selling up a storm in recent months. After snatching first in the annual rankings from the faltering Corsa in October, the Qashqai has held on to take the title to the UK’s best-selling car for 2022.

On sale since Autumn last year, the current-generation Nissan Qashqai holds an Expert Rating of 69%, which is reasonable for a medium SUV but nothing to really shout about.

2. Vauxhall Corsa

Best-selling cars of 2022 – Vauxhall Corsa

The Vauxhall Corsa had a strong start to 2022, and had built a substantial sales lead by the summer. However, things slowed down substantially in recent months, just as the Nissan Qashqai was hitting its stride. In the end, the Corsa just managed to hold off the Tesla Model Y for second place.

Despite its continued sales success, the Corsa has received average reviews from the motoring media, with an Expert Rating of just 61% on our Expert Rating Index – with the electric Corsa-e two points higher.

3. Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y ended up third in the sales charts, although it did make almost half of its registrations in the last two months of the year, including a staggering 10,664 units shifted in December alone.

The Model Y has received a positive media reception here in the UK, and currently holds a solid Expert Rating of 79%.

4. Ford Puma

Best selling cars of 2022 – Ford Puma

The Ford Puma continues to sell in consistent numbers, finishing tenth in the monthly charts in December. Pipped for third by the late-charging Tesla Model Y, the Puma finished fourth for the year, almost 3,000 sales ahead of the Mini hatch.

The Puma has received plenty of praise from the UK motoring media, and currently holds an Expert Rating of 76% on our unique Expert Rating Index. That puts it top of the charts for supermini-based SUVs.

5. Mini hatch

Best-selling cars of 2022 – Mini hatch

Despite being one of the oldest new car models still on sale, the Mini hatch has been a consistent consumer favourite throughout 2022. The hatchback lost the battle for best-selling British-built to the Nissan Qashqai back in October, but still showed strong sales form as the year came to a close, taking fifth in the annual rankings.

The Mini has received positive reviews, with an Expert Rating of 74% on our Expert Rating Index. The electric model doesn’t do so well, with a score of just 63%.

6. Kia Sportage

Best-selling new cars of 2022 – Kia Sportage

Usually a consistent performer, the new-for-2022 Kia Sportage was missing from the top ten best-sellers list for the last three months of 2022. Nevertheless, the SUV has finished sixth in the annual charts, dropping one place but outselling the closely-related Hyundai Tucson by nearly 2,000 units.

The new Kia Sportage currently holds an Expert Rating of 70% on our award-winning Expert Rating Index, which is a substantial improvement on the previous model.

7. Hyundai Tucson

Best-selling cars of 2022 – Hyundai Tucson

Another car that started strongly but faded later, Hyundai Tucson sales dropped off in the final months of 2022 after it had established itself as one of the UK’s most popular SUVs in the first half of this year. Despite its December absence, the Tucson holds on to seventh in the annual sales list.

The new Tucson has received positive reviews from the motoring media, with a solid Expert Rating of 75% on our industry-leading Expert Rating Index.

8. Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf has recorded some healthy sales numbers in the last few months – though it was absent from the monthly top ten in December. Finishing eighth in the 2022 table, the just managed to edge out the Ford Kuga – the two were separated by a mere nine sales at the end of the year.

On sale since 2020, the Golf currently holds an Expert Rating of 75%, with good scores from most UK media sources.

9. Ford Kuga

With the increasing popularity of the Nissan Qashqai, other family-sized SUVs are beginning to suffer – including the Ford Kuga. Absent from the monthly top ten for two months running, the Kuga slides to ninth in the annual rankings.

Its Expert Rating of 69% places it firmly in the middle of a very competitive family SUV market.

10. Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta (2021 - present) front view | Expert Rating

It’s been a torrid two years for Britain’s almost perennially favourite car. However, despite being temporarily removed from sale for a few months earlier this year, the Ford Fiesta managed to creep back into the top ten best-sellers chart in the final month of the year.

The Fiesta currently holds an Expert Rating of 76%, with good scores from most UK media sources. If you want a new Fiesta, you’ll have to move quickly. It will be gone for good next summer.

Last year’s best-sellers race is over, but the competition for 2023’s best-selling car is already underway. We will have the sales results for January in the first week of February – check back soon!

Additional reporting by Stuart Masson

The latest from The Car Expert

Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.