Surprise, surprise! We reveal SA’s most searched petrol and diesel vehicles

2020 Toyota Hilux. Image: Calvin Fisher
2020 Toyota Hilux. Image: Calvin Fisher

• AutoTrader has released its 2020 Car Industry Report.

• The report analyses data of over 401 million total searches in a 12-month period.

• Although the most-searched, both vehicles are not the most sold in their segments.

• For more motoring stories, go to

3 Series and Hilux reign supreme! The BMW 3 Series is the most searched for petrol car in South Africa while the number one spot in the diesel stakes goes to the Toyota Hilux. 

This has been revealed in the 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry Report, which covers the year ending June 2020.

As the country's largest motoring marketplace, AutoTrader's unique technology – based on its comprehensive vehicle taxonomy database – provides unprecedented insight into the automotive industry and the interactions of in-market shoppers. 

Accordingly, the report – which analyses data of over 401 million total searches in the 12-month period – contains some interesting findings. For instance, searches rose by a whopping 38% year on year – even though the 12-month period included several months of lockdown that were characterised by stunted demand. 

READ | Car sales: BMW, Golf GTI, and Ford Ranger bakkie remain SA's favourite used vehicles

bmw 3 series

Image: BMW

According to the 2020 AutoTrader Car Industry Report, the BMW 3 Series is followed home in the petrol car search stakes by the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Volkswagen Golf – so it's an all-German affair. Sedans make up the majority of petrol fuel-type searches.

"The popularity of the 3 Series comes as no surprise," notes George Mienie, AutoTrader CEO.

"BMW was the most searched for brand in the 12 months, with 12.2% of all brand searches, and the 3 Series specifically was the sixth most sold individual model."

Toyota Hilux

Image: Wheels24 / Calvin Fisher

Turning to vehicles with diesel engines, the Hilux dominated search statistics, with nearly double the number of searches versus the second-placed diesel vehicle. The perpetually popular Hilux was joined on the podium by the Ford Ranger (second) and Toyota Fortuner (third).

"The most popular filter by car shoppers is for diesel cars. This could be attributed to diesel engines being perceived as more fuel-efficient than petrol vehicles. Double cabs, single cabs and SUVs dominate the diesel searches," reveals Mienie.

The dominance of the Hilux is to be expected; it is the most popular new vehicle in South Africa and is also the most considered model by used car buyers, claiming 2.8% of all searches.

However, the Hilux is only the third most sold used car (contributing 3.4% of all vehicles sold). The number one spot in this regard belongs to the Ranger.

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