Winners and losers in 2016 new car showrooms

Ford Fiesta top car as manufacturers see strong growth.

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The Ford Fiesta was the most popular new car in the UK in 2016 – as it has been for many years.

According to new figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), a total of 120,525 Ford Fiesta models were registered in the UK over the year. This was more than 43,000 ahead of the runner-up in the new car top 10, the Vauxhall Corsa.

However the 77,110 registrations of the Corsa remain a strong performance in a year that saw Vauxhall fighting negative publicity resulting from at times misguided fire reports in older models.

The Ford Focus claims third place on 70,545 registrations, nosing ahead of its family hatch rival the Volkswagen Golf (69,492). And the Nissan Qashqai retains top spot in the booming crossover market, fifth overall on 62,682.

Meanwhile the SMMT figures highlight which manufacturers had a strong 2016 and which suffered. The highest growth in percentage terms came from Infiniti, the Nissan luxury brand up almost 142 per cent. However its 2,891 cars registered represents a market share of only 0.1 per cent.

Similarly registrations for Abarth, the Fiat performance brand, are up 44.6 per cent but represent only 3,966 cars, 0.15 per cent market share, while the 41.3 per cent growth from Bentley sees the number of cars registered up by just 569 cars, to 1,948.

The 2016 New Car Top Ten table has a familiar look about it.

Much more impressive is the 45.4 per cent rise recorded by Jaguar, which registered almost 11,000 more cars in 2016 taking the British manufacturer’s total to 34,822. Sister brand Land Rover was up 19.5 per cent at 79,534.

Premium makes target volume

The figures tell a less rosy tale for the volume manufacturers. Ford registered more UK cars than any other manufacturer in 2016, at 318,316. This represents almost 12 per cent of the entire market but is five per cent down on 2015.

Second biggest maker remains Vauxhall with 250,955 registrations, down almost seven per cent. The 207,028 recorded by Volkswagen is a slide of 7.5 per cent. And the clue could be in the next largest figures – the 182,593 registrations of BMW are up nine per cent, the 177,304 of Audi up 6.4 per cent, and Mercedes-Benz with 169,828 up a very strong 17 per cent. It seems more buyers than ever are realising they can own premium models previously thought of as unobtainable.

And the largest slide on the UK market? If one ignores Chevrolet, still recorded despite no longer being officially sold in the UK, the wooden spoon goes to Mitsubishi. The Japanese brand registered 18,237 cars in 2016, almost 20 per cent fewer than in 2017.

Infiniti is the brand seeing the greatest percentage growth in 2016.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.

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