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)|
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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