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Best-selling cars 2024: the UK’s top 10 most popular models

These are the country’s most popular cars of the year so far, but which is in pole position?

March 2024 saw the introduction of the latest ‘24’ number plate and, as we discovered in our recent survey, new plates are still very important to the UK’s car buyers. As a result, the new car market experienced its 20th consecutive month of growth and the best March since 2019, as the post-COVID recovery continued. 

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This should be good news, then, but carmakers aren’t breaking out the party hats just yet. With the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate looming, private electric car sales are still struggling compared to fleet sales. There are calls from the industry for more government incentives and we’ve seen some significant EV price cuts in recent months, but so far BEVs only take up a 15.5 per cent share of the total UK market.

When it comes to being top dog on the best-sellers list, 2024 has seen a continuing rivalry between last-year’s champion, the Ford Puma, and 2022’s favourite, the Nissan Qashqai. Both cars are continuing to sell in big numbers, but the Qashqai was March’s number one with 8,931 units registered. Ford still managed to shift a respectable 8,318 Pumas, though.

Traditional hatchbacks and superminis are continuing to hold their own against the might of the SUVs, too, with the MINI, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series all seeing boosted numbers in March.

Top 10 best-selling cars 2024

Without further ado, here are the UK’s official best-selling cars of 2024 so far, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

10. Volkswagen T-Roc - 8,934

Many people see the Volkswagen Golf as a staple of the hatchback world but, in today’s market, many buyers prefer SUVs. This is where the T-Roc comes in, this small SUV shares the same underpinnings as the Golf, so owners essentially get the best of both worlds. It’s still good to drive and running costs are reasonable, but it has more presence on the road and there’s more room inside.

9. MG HS - 10,028

After a brief stint as the UK’s best-selling car in January 2023, the MG HS is still doing its part to bring the iconic octagonal badge back into the mainstream. This family-oriented SUV is one of the older members of MG’s line-up, but it still carries a starting price that’s lower than most of the competition at under £25,000. It’s a hit with budget-conscious buyers as a result. 

8. MINI - 10,049

An all-new model is imminent, but buyers are still snapping up the existing MINI in droves. It’s a well-built car that offers plenty of the retro charm of the original, as well as the affordability, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a MINI at the top end of this list. Perhaps the new version will be the car to change that.

7. Volkswagen Golf - 10,290

The latest Volkswagen Golf has been met with its fair share of criticism, with VW customers being deterred by oversights such as an infuriating lack of physical controls and backlighting. However, the latest iteration of VW’s staple hatchback is still a firm favourite in the sales charts, and the brand has set out to right many of its wrongs with the updated Mk8.5 model.

6. BMW 1 Series - 10,406

This list may be heavily populated with SUVs, but there’s still room for a premium hatchback. The BMW 1 Series offers all of the driver engagement and quality that you’d expect, but wraps it up in a more compact yet highly practical body. It’s pretty easy to see why it’s proving so popular. 

5. Audi A3 - 10,493

Edging just ahead of its arch-rival, the Audi A3 is the second German premium hatchback to appear on this list. The BMW is a bit more fun to drive, but the Audi boasts plenty of luxury and tech for a car of its size, and it’s well suited to use as a family car, too. UK buyers are clearly still fans of the big German brands, but it would seem their compact executive saloons are no longer the models of choice for the mass market.

4. Nissan Juke - 11,206

Much like the larger Qashqai, the Nissan Juke enjoys a pretty constant stream of sales. This funky crossover is undoubtedly one of the more distinctive models in this area of the market, but it’s struggling to top the mighty Ford Puma when it comes to outright appeal. Nissan is hoping to fix this with its recent facelift, and it looks like a promising start with the Juke jumping from 10th to 4th place.

3. Kia Sportage - 13,632

The fifth-generation Kia Sportage has been a regular sight on this list since it launched in 2021, and it seems that it’s only increasing in popularity. With its distinctive styling, technology that’s bang up-to-date and overall quality feel, the latest Sportage is worlds apart from its predecessors. In fact, we think it’s one of the best mid-size SUVs to buy right now.

2. Nissan Qashqai - 14,555

2022’s British-built best-seller is still a firm favourite, and the Nissan Qashqai is continuing to pester the car that defeated it in 2023, the Ford Puma. An all-electric variant is due to arrive very soon, so this could bring in swathes of buyers who are searching for a zero-emission family car. The electric SUV competition is fierce, though, so Nissan will need to get the price just right.

1. Ford Puma - 15,054

2023’s best-selling car is continuing to hold steady in 2024. Although this year initially got off to a shaky start, the more recent months have pushed the Ford Puma back into pole position in the sales charts. This sporty small SUV is based on the same underpinnings as the now-defunct Fiesta supermini, so many buyers could be flocking to this model as the closest alternative. An all-electric version is also set to arrive later this year, which could bring in yet another sales boost.

The UK’s best-selling cars 2024

  1. Ford Puma
  2. Nissan Qashqai
  3. Kia Sportage
  4. Nissan Juke
  5. Audi A3
  6. BMW 1 Series
  7. Volkswagen Golf
  8. MINI
  9. MG HS
  10. Volkswagen T-Roc

Sales vs registrations: inside the numbers

There’s an important distinction to be made where the UK’s monthly and annual car sales numbers are concerned. Namely, that they don’t actually count the number of cars sold in the sense that many people might imagine. The numbers provided by the SMMT are for car ‘registrations’ rather than being sales figures.

When customers buy a new car it is registered before it can be driven on the road but cars are also registered by manufacturers and dealers before they have a customer to go to. This practice of processing pre-registered cars is done for various reasons but often the goal is to move stock through the supply chain, avoiding bottlenecks or to hit targets. It means that a significant proportion of the cars in the ‘sales’ figures could be pre-registered and estimates range from between 10 and 20 per cent.

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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