Most popular cars on the road — what is the UK’s most common car?

    In 2021, there were 39.2 million licensed vehicles on the roads of Great Britain. From old gas-guzzlers to brand-new EVs, there are a massive variety of car brands and models out there. But what is the most popular car in the UK?

    We’ve analysed data from the DVLA to discover the UK’s top ten car brands, licenced to be driven on the road according to the latest statistics. 

    The most common cars on British roads 

    According to the most recent data from the DVLA, the most common car brands being driven on the roads and streets of the UK in 2020 were as follows: 

    Cars (by brand)Cars on the road (million)
    Land Rover0.87

    With 3.1 million Vauxhalls and 4.2 million Fords on UK roads, this means that one in every four cars (25%) is either a Ford or a Vauxhall. VW, BMW, Audi and Mercedes are also in the top ten.

    Fewer cars were registered in the UK in 2021

    The outbreak of the Coronavirus epidemic and the resulting shortfall in microchips has given rise to unprecedented periods for the UK auto industry in recent years. 

    During the UK Covid-19 lockdowns, vehicle dealerships and showrooms were forced to close, removing the main method through which new cars are sold in the UK, which naturally impacted new registrations during 2020 and 2021. 

    Last year, only around two million vehicles were registered for the first time in Great Britain – nearly a 29% reduction from 2019’s figures.

    The rise of Electric Vehicles (EVs)

    Despite an industry-wide lull in new car registrations, ahead of the looming electric switchover in 2035, EVs, for example Teslas, enjoyed a record year in the UK in 2021.

    More Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) were sold in the UK in 2021 than over the previous five years (2016-2020) combined, with 190,727 registrations (11.6% of all new car sales), whilst Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) made up a further 7% of sales, with 114,554 cars being registered. 

    Overall, this means that a whopping 18.5% of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.

    The RAC estimates that there are around 308,000 plug-in hybrids on the UK roads today. Plus, around 395,000 zero-emission BEVs – more than half of which were registered in 2021 alone.

    Most popular car models on UK roads

    According to figures released by the DVLA, the top ten most common cars in the UK are as follows: 

    1. Ford Fiesta – 1.54m on UK roads

    2. Ford Focus – 1.3m on UK roads

    3. Vauxhall Corsa – 1.11m on UK roads

    4. Volkswagen Golf – 1.07m on UK roads

    5. Vauxhall Astra – 0.96m on UK roads

    6. Volkswagen Polo – 0.68m on UK roads

    7. BMW 3 Series – 0.61m on UK roads

    8. Nissan Qashqai – 0.49m on UK roads

    9. Toyota Yaris – 0.49m on UK roads

    10. Renault Clio – 466,000 on UK roads

    2022’s most popular cars

    The latest car registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) provide an overview of what is selling well in 2022.

    Despite fears that the ongoing crisis in Ukraine may disturb car production later in the year, the early months of 2022 have been largely positive for the automotive industry, with 174,081 new cars being sold in the UK up to the end of February – a 23% increase on the same period last year.  

    Though there is still a long way to go before any car model can be officially awarded bestselling status in the UK, according to the SMMT’s figures, so far in 2022, the top five most popular new cars are: 

    5. Vauxhall Mokka – 3,659 sales

    With its elevated driving position and competitive price, the Mokka gives buyers on a stretched budget the opportunity to own an elegant and very impressive-looking SUV. 

    The model has been one of Vauxhall’s few success stories on the UK car market over the last few years, even outselling the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai. 

    Vauxhall Mokka. One of the most popular cars in the UK
    Looking to sell your Vauxhall Mokka or another Vauxhall model? On Motorway, dealers compete to give you their best price, with no hassle.

    4. Ford Puma – 3,773 sales

    The original ‘Ford Puma’ was a small coupé that arrived on the market in the late 1990s, which, whilst picking up some strong reviews, failed to sell well. It has now returned to the Ford line-up as a small, sporty-looking SUV – and is selling in much bigger numbers. 

    The Ford Puma also has a mild-hybrid engine that is not typical in other cars in its class, and which allows for the – very popular combination of – fast acceleration and fuel economy. The eighth bestselling new car in the UK in 2021 – it seems to be doing even better this year. 

    Ford Puma. One of the most popular cars in the UK.
    Looking to sell your Ford Puma or another Ford model? On Motorway, dealers compete to give you their best price, with no hassle.

    3. MINI – 4,088 sales

    MINIs have a long history of selling well in the UK – with the original Mini selling a whopping 5.3 million units during its original 41-year production run. 

    The iconic British car is now part of the BMW family but remains loyal to its past – and has stayed popular as a result. The model’s unique character and clever compact layout revolutionised the small car market. 

    The new MINI’s success may also be because they are available at several different price points. Finishing third on the bestselling car list in 2021, MINI’s all-electric model also helped the brand bump up sales figures – and it’s already looking like a strong contender for 2022.

    The Mini. One of the most popular cars in the UK
    Looking to sell your mini? On Motorway, over 5,000 dealers compete to give you their best price, with no hassle.

    2. The Kia Sportage – 4,134 sales 

    The Kia Sportage finished ninth in the bestselling table last year. This year, the Sportage started in first place in January but dropped down from the top spot in February. 

    Like the Corsa, the Sportage offers the buyer a lot of choice. Currently, you can buy the model as a regular internal combustion car, a mild hybrid, a full hybrid, and a plug-in hybrid. 

    If you’re not keen to venture down the route of pure electric, there is a Sportage for everyone. They also come in a choice of five trim levels – from regular, through to sporty and up to luxury level.

    Kia sportage. One of the most popular cars in the UK
    Looking to sell your Kia? On Motorway, over 5,000 dealers compete to give you their best price, with no hassle.

    1.    The Vauxhall Corsa – 4,282 sales

    So far, in 2022, the top cars are mirroring last year’s statistics and the Vauxhall Corsa has come out on top again. The ever-popular small car is a regular bestseller across all the countries of the UK. 

    What is it that makes the Vauxhall Corsa so popular? Well, the brand is renowned for its versatility and ability to create cars with engine and trim choices to fit practically every need – and, crucially, every budget.

    Vauxhall is also now part of the French PSA Group – which includes Peugeot, Citroën, and DS.  

    Looking to sell your Vauxhall Corsa or another Vauxhall model? On Motorway, dealers compete to give you their best price, with no hassle.

    Need to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from Clean Air Zones to car tax, and plate changes to part exchange. 

    Top 10 tips to sell your car
    How to sell a car with free collection
    Should you sell your diesel car?
    Top 5 ways to sell a car
    How to part exchange your car
    How to sell your van online
    Should I sell my hybrid car?