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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?

​May 2024 marked yet another consecutive month of growth for the UK’s new car market, it’s 22nd overall, with 147,678 newly-registered cars hitting the road. The UK’s best-selling cars continue to be made up of a fairly wide variety of models, including superminis, hatchbacks and compact SUVs.

It’s not all good news for car manufacturers, though, as private electric car sales are still failing to live up to expectations. They fell slightly by 2 per cent in May, although private petrol and diesel car sales also dropped. Unleaded petrol is still the most popular fuel overall as it accounted for 54.9 per cent of the market. 

UK buyers showed a continued liking for part-electric power as demand for full-hybrid and plug-in hybrids grew by 9.6 and 31.5 per cent respectively. As more carmakers introduce electrification to their petrol models in order to meet tightening emission standards, this figure should increase at a steady rate.

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As for the car models themselves, just as Ford’s sales team may have been tempted to break out the champagne, the Kia Sportage managed to sneak past the Puma as May’s best-seller with 4,202 new examples hitting the road compared to 3,812 factory-fresh Pumas. That being said, the Puma is still 2024’s top dog - at least for now.

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. Vauxhall Corsa - 12,925

It was officially the third best-selling car in 2023, but the Vauxhall Corsa is struggling to keep ahead of the pack so far in 2024. Although the demise of the Ford Fiesta has almost certainly helped to boost the Corsa’s popularity, it appears that more UK buyers are being tempted towards the small Ford’s closely-related Puma SUV sibling, rather than Vauxhall’s supermini.

9. Volkswagen T-Roc - 13,323

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.

8. MG HS - 14,161

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. 

7. BMW 1 Series - 14,190

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.

6. Nissan Juke - 15,538

Much like the larger Qashqai, the Nissan Juke enjoys a pretty constant stream of sales. This funky little SUV is undoubtedly one of the more distinctive models in this area of the market. A mid-life facelift has given the Juke a new lease of life, but it’s still struggling to top the mighty Ford Puma when it comes to outright appeal. 

5. Volkswagen Golf - 15,573

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 brand has set out to right many of its wrongs with the updated Mk8.5 model, and these corrections appear to be improving the Golf’s reputation at long last.

4. Audi A3 - 16,520

Edging just ahead of its rival, the 1 Series, the Audi A3 is the second 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.

3. Nissan Qashqai - 19,687

The Nissan Qashqai was 2022’s best-seller, and it’s clear that it’s still a firm favourite today. With a freshly-facelifted model ready to hit the showrooms, the second half of 2024 could be make or break for this staple mid-size SUV. An all-electric variant is also due to arrive very soon and this could bring-in even more buyers if the price is right.

2. Kia Sportage - 20,026

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.

1. Ford Puma - 23,205

The Ford Puma was the nation’s best-seller in 2023, and things are certainly looking very bright for it in 2024, too. Although anything can happen in the motoring world, the Fiesta-based small SUV has now stood firmly in first place for several months. A fully-electric Puma is due to arrive later this year, too, which is likely to bring a further boost to the small SUV’s impressive sales performance.

The UK’s best-selling cars 2024

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

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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