Best-selling cars in the UK 2021

We reveal Britain’s best-selling cars for 2021...

The latest car registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has revealed the top 10 best-selling cars in the UK for 2021. 

The new figures highlight the continued struggle that the UK new car market is facing as the pandemic and  global semiconductor shortage continue to take their toll. However, with 1,647,181 new cars registered, the 2021 total was one per cent up compared to 2020.

This slight increase in overall car sales shows the UK is returning to some level of normality, although the SMMT is keen to emphasise that the industry is still facing unprecedented issues.

One positive to take from 2021 is that the EV sector continues to flourish, with a 76.3 per cent increase in new electric vehicle sales over the previous year.

There's still a long way to go before sales recover to pre-Covid levels, however. To help counter the effect, a growing number of companies have been offering online car buying solutions; from click and collect to home delivery, that can manage the car sales process in socially distanced safety

As far as individual model results go, the best-selling cars list has revealed that the Vauxhall Corsa has taken the top sales crown for 2021, with a total of 40,914 units sold. Considering Ford managed to sell 77,833 Fiestas in 2019, it indicates the struggles the industry faces as we emerge from the pandemic.

The usually dominant Ford Fiesta has had an awful year by its own high standards, dropping out of the top ten, while Tesla's Model 3 highlights the popularity of EVs in 2021, by shooting up to second place. Perhaps the biggest surprise within the top ten list is MINI, with the premium hatchback storming into third spot.

The UK's best-selling cars for 2021 

1. Vauxhall Corsa - 40,914

The runner-up in the best-selling cars of 2020 table has taken the win in 2021. Along with appealing finance offers, the new generation of Corsa certainly helped it conquer its Ford Fiesta rival (along with the all-electric Corsa-e model). With over 6,000 more units sold than the second-place Tesla Model 3, the Corsa's victory was a comfortable one in the end.

2. Tesla Model 3 - 34,783

Tesla sales model meant that while the Model 3 was outside of the top 10 in November, a whopping 9,612 units sold in December saw it climb the rankings to the number two spot for the year. The Model 3 sold more then 22,000 units than the second most popular EV - the Kia e-Niro

3. MINI - 31,792

The MINI placed first for November which has thrust it into the top ten and it came second in December with 4,625 sales - helping to push it up to third place for the year. Success of the all-electric MINI Electric model has certainly helped the MINI in 2021 with the EV version coming seventh in the best-selling electric cars list. 

4. Mercedes A-Class - 30,710

Narrowly missing out on third place, the Mercedes A-Class has had a stellar 2021. Beating rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series will surely see some smiles in Stuttgart. The plug-in hybrid model proved to be especially popular, becoming the second most popular PHEV in 2021. 

5. Volkswagen Polo - 30,634

The Volkswagen Polo has steadily risen through the rankings this year, but a relatively poor December saw it drop a few places to fifth. It's still cause for celebration though as the Polo is the third best-selling supermini in the UK. 

6. Volkswagen Golf - 30,240

The Volkswagen Golf came a respectable third in 2020, so taking sixth place in 2021 will feel a little disappointing for the German giant. The lack of a fully-electric model probably hindered the hatchback, as the similarly-sized Volkswagen ID.3 was the third most popular EV with 11,032 sales. 

7. Nissan Qashqai - 29,922

Despite not having an all-electric option like some of its rivals, the Nissan Qashqai remains a strong contender in the best-selling cars list. It had a July and August to forget with it dropping out of the top 10 for both of those months. A seventh-placed finish in November and fifth in December has helped it climb the rankings,  reclaiming the title of Britain's best-selling SUV. 

8. Ford Puma - 28,697

Ford's controversial decision to name its new small SUV after a Nineties coupe doesn't seem to have damaged its sales levels. The Puma has a revelation for Ford, narrowly missing out on the title of Britain's best-selling SUV. 

9. Kia Sportage - 27,611

The Kia Sportage had a decent 2021 in all. It dropped out of the top 10 for March but has come back strong. A new model is now on sale and while it wasn't enough to overtake the Nissan Qashqai, the Sportage's eighth place will still be celebrated in Seoul. 

10. Toyota Yaris - 27,415

The new Yaris has been a sensation in 2021, beating typically strong contenders like the Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio. While it didn't account for a lot of the sales, the fantastic GR Yaris hot hatch has probably helped make the Yaris nameplate more alluring. 

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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