WATCH | The UK's best-selling cars of 2020

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• The United Kingdom's yearly new car registrations drop to 1.63-million, the lowest figure for the market since 1992.

•  108 205 battery electric vehicles were registered in the UK in last year and experts expect this figure to increase significantly in 2021. 

• Overall, new car sales dropped by almost 30% compared to 2019. We take a look at the top five sellers in the UK. 


The United Kingdom's new car registrations for 2020 were cause for concern as data showed a decrease of 29.4% compared to 2019. 

The country's dealers were hit hard by the lockdown implemented by the government to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

A total of 1 631 064 units were sold over the 12 months, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

Other factors that contributed to the under-performing figures included uncertainly around trade due to Britain's exit from the European Union and the government's decision to ban all new petrol and diesel-powered cars from 2030. 

This resulted in an uptake of petrol and mild-hybrid sales showing green shoots in the sales figures. A total of 108 205 units of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) were sold, growing by 185.9%, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 91.2% to a total of 66 877.

We take a look at the vehicles that topped the new car sales chart in 2020. The question is though, with the car industry so heavily impacted by coronavirus last year, has that affected the top of the sales table?

These are the top five best-selling cars in Britain over the past twelve months. Due to the coronavirus, car sales were temporarily suspended as dealers closed their doors and the country went on lockdown.

During this period, many dealers jacked up their online sales strategies and pivoted their businesses towards making it easier to browse vehicles online. This assisted the public to view cars safely and purchase them online as opposed to physically going to a dealer. 

These are the top five best-selling cars in Britain (in ascending order), according to the Sunday Times UK

5. Mercedes-Benz A-Class (37 608)

The entry-level Mercedes offers an alternative to the Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1 Series and Audi's A3. It features a modern interior with a myriad of screens and the optional MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system. 

Only small-capacity turbocharged engines are offered with a range-topping AMG A45 S model serving as the flagship. 

The A-Class has been on sale locally since 2017. 

4. Ford Focus (39 372) 

The Ford Focus remains one of the best hatchbacks in the world, offering good driving dynamics and solid build quality without breaking the bank. 

The Focus was discontinued in South Africa a few years ago due to lack of demand for anything other than its Ranger, but remains one of the Britain's best sellers. 

The latest model has been on sale in the UK for a while, yet remains a popular choice for those looking for a safe, dependable hatchback. The Focus has been a sales success for the past few decades and continues to find approval with new car buyers. 

3. Volkswagen Golf (43 109)

The Volkswagen Golf made its debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show but had a delayed entry to the UK, as it was launched just as the first lockdown was announced in the country.

The eighth-generation sports cleaner and more frugal engines while the interior is now more advanced and sophisticated than ever before. 

As always, there are GTI and R performance models that offer buyers a touch of sportiness in a premium package. 

The new Golf is due in South Africa later this year. 

2. Opel Corsa (46 439)

The much-anticipated Opel Corsa will arrive locally this year, and has been a sales success in the UK. It claimed the top spot in the sales charts for each month of 2020 and offers a compelling package. 

The new Corsa features a totally refreshed interior and small-capacity forced induction engines. In the UK, an electric version is also offered. 

1. Ford Fiesta (49 174)

The best-selling car of 2020 in the UK is the Ford Fiesta, beating its rival, the Corsa, by just under 3000 units. Previous generations of the Fiesta have enjoyed great success locally and the new version looks similar to its big brother, the Focus. 

One of the world's best small cars, the Fiesta possesses a fun-driving factor that many of its rivals simply can't compete with. 

It's interesting to note that the top two cars on the list are compact hatchbacks that have grown in size significantly across generations. Clearly, the UK loves small cars.

Source: Sunday Times UK

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