Ongoing shortages in the supply of electronic components has once again thrown a massive curveball into the new car market. July’s sales results show some very unexpected results, with market leaders going AWOL and some struggling brands enjoying a brief respite.
We published our report on the overall market earlier this week, which showed that the overall market was down by about 30% on the same month last year. However, within those results was an enormous variation in performance from different car manufacturers.
Of the major conglomerates, the Volkswagen Group seems to be coping best with supply issues so far, with all its volume brands (VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda) out performing the overall market. Once again, VW and Audi were the top two brands in the UK for sales. Hyundai (which includes Kia) also seems to be managing well, as does Toyota (and Lexus).
On the other side, Ford has been struggling for a few months – the perennial market leader has fallen back to third since May. Renault is also having an atrocious time, with July 2021 registrations down 80% on the same month last year. The company has also warned that things are going to get worse before they get better.
The huge new Stellantis group is an interesting case, with the company’s former PSA volume brands (Peugeot, Citroën and Vauxhall) all struggling badly in July, while its former FCA brands (Fiat, Jeep, Abarth) tended to perform better than the market average – although Alfa Romeo was slightly below average.
Among the top ten best-sellers list, there was also significant movement. The headline news was the complete disappearance of the year’s best-selling car to date, the Vauxhall Corsa. Fortunately for Vauxhall, the Ford Fiesta had another poor month so the Corsa’s overall sales lead for the year was barely affected. But there were also a few other shifts, so let’s have a look in more detail.
The UK’s top-selling cars, July 2021
1. Volkswagen Polo
It was another new face at the top of the charts as the Volkswagen Polo took sales honours in July. We certainly can’t remember the last time the Polo was the country’s best-selling car, but if you can tell us when it last happened then do so in the comments below. There are zero prizes on offer other than our everlasting repect and admiration.
The Polo was helped by the vanishing Vauxhall Corsa and ongoing sales difficulties for the Ford Fiesta, and presumbly some runout deals from Volkswagen Finance to help shift stock of the current model ahead of the updated Polo’s arrival in time for the September sales rush.
We’ve just updated our Expert Rating algorithm, which we’ll be telling you all about in the next week, but it has generally pulled scored down for most cars. The Polo now holds an Expert Rating of 76%, which is down slightly from its previous score of 80%.
2. Toyota Yaris
It was a great month for the Toyota Yaris in July, reaching the dizzying heights of second and only just shaded by the Polo for top spot. This also helped the Yaris leapfrog the BMW 3 Series and Nissan Qashqai in year-to-date sales, where it now sits eighth.
The Yaris currently holds an overall score of 67% on our Expert Rating index, which has dropped from its previous rating of 76% since we updated our top-secret algorithm. This is a bigger fall than affected the Polo or Fiesta, but still keeps it four points above the Corsa.
3. Kia Sportage
Another fantastic result for another car in run-out mode. The current Kia Sportage has been around since 2015, and is set to be replaced by an all-new model before the end of 2021. July’s strong sales also helped the Sportage jump the Nissan Qashqai for sixth place in year-to-date registrations. Whether it can sustain that position will depend on how many Sportages Kia has left before the new model arrives.
The Sportage currently holds an Expert Rating of 64% in our industry-leading Expert Ratings index, which has dropped three points from 67% as a result of our updated scoring system. That puts it firmly in the bottom half of the medium SUV sector, so Kia will hoping that its boldly styled replacment can improve on this score.
4. Ford Puma
Once again, the top-selling Ford was the talented little Puma SUV, although it did slip from third place in June to fourth in July. On one hand, it’s good news for Ford to have another big-selling model in the family. But on the other hand, this is hurting sales of the Fiesta, which is looking less and less likely to catch the Vauxhall Corsa in sales by the end of the year.
Ford’s junior crossover has been popular with critics, currently holding a rating of 76% on our unique Expert Rating index. This has slipped a few points as a result of our algorithm update, but the Puma remains the highest-rated mainstream petrol small SUV, with only a couple of electric models and the more-expensive Volvo XC40 ranked higher.
5. Volkswagen Golf
Although it has slipped a couple of places since last month, the Volkswagen Golf was still the UK’s most popular family hatchback in July. It edged slightly further ahead of the Mercedes A-Class in year-to-date sales but it remains a close race.
The Golf’s Expert Rating of 74% has fallen by six points as a result of our new scoring calculations, which has also dropped it a point behind the Ford Focus. However, it remains a few points better than either the A-Class or the Audi A3.
6. Audi A3
Making a return to the top ten for the first time since May, it was a great month for the Audi A3 to place sixth ahead of the Mercedes A-Class.
It was another great month for Audi overall, maintaining its second place in overall manufacturer registrations behind its Volkswagen overlord. Not only was it considerably better than eternal rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but more Audis were registered than Fords for the third month in a row.
The Audi A3 has received generally good reviews from the UK media since it was launched, although its Expert Rating has slipped from 78% to 70% as a result of our August update, which means it has dropped a point behind the A-Class and falls further behing the BMW 1 Series, which only dropped four points in the update.
7. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class bounced back into the top ten in July after falling out in June, presumably the result of production problems rather than any sudden unpopularity. Having ceded third place in year-to-date sales to the Golf last month, the A-Class was a couple of hundreds sales behind its VW rival in July but remains close.
The A-Class has an Expert Rating of 71% in The Car Expert’s unique aggregated Expert Rating index, which is a five-point drop as a result of our new calculations. It ranks highly for safety, winning awards from Euro NCAP, Thatcham and What Car? over the years for its protective qualities.
- Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mercedes-Benz ratings, reviews, news and features
8. Mini hatch
Like the A-Class above it, July saw the reappearance of the Mini hatch after disappearing in June. Supplies of the once-again-facelifted Mini seem to be keeping up with demand at present, although it remains outside the top ten in year-to-date sales.
Despite being the oldest car in the top ten, the Mini hatch still holds a very solid score of 76% in our Expert Ratings index, which only dropped four points in our huge August algorithm update, and is one of the top scores in its class. The electric version doesn’t score so well, with a new Expert Rating of only 63% that has dropped by ten points in the latest update and sits close to the bottom of its class.
- Mini hatch (2014 onwards) – Expert Rating
- Mini Electric (2020 onwards) – Expert Rating
- More Mini ratings, reviews, news and features
9. Ford Fiesta
Another very poor month for the Ford Fiesta in July saw it end up in ninth place. The only good news for Ford was that the Vauxhall Corsa did even worse and fell out of the top ten altogether. However, that only allowed the Fiesta to pull back a couple of hundred sales on the Corsa, so it’s still 2,700 units behind with only five months of the year to go.
The Blue Oval brand’s dominance of the new car market has also slipped by its usual lofty standards. Once again, Ford was third in registrations for June, behind Volkswagen and Audi and more than 30% off VW’s registration results.
Despite its 2021 sales struggles, the Fiesta remains popular with the critics. Most of the nearly 300 cars in our index fell by at least five points as a result of new and improved algorithm, but the Fiesta only dropped by three points and remains just one point off the top of the class (a position still held by the SEAT Ibiza). It currently holds an Expert Rating of 78% , which is some 15 points better than the Vauxhall Corsa.
10. Hyundai Kona
Rounding out the top ten for July is a new entry – the Hyundai Kona. As far as we can tell, the Kona has never made it into the top ten since it was launched back in 2017.
The Kona has recently received a facelift, easily detected by its smoother new nose. Both the petrol/hybrid version and the Kona Electric have been updated.
The Kona Electric has been highly praised by reviewers, and is considered to be significantly better than the petrol-powered Kona. After our new Expert Rating algorithm was applied, the Kona Electric’s rating of 79% puts it right at the top end of the sector, just one point behind the close-related Kia e-Niro. Meanwhile, the regular Hyundai Kona is a massive 20% behind its electric sibling, with its score of 59% score putting it firmly in the bottom half of the field.