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Best-selling cars 2024: The UK’s most popular models so far this year



Best-selling cars 2024: The UK’s most popular models so far this year

The new car market is in good health, according to the latest sales figures, with June being the 23rd consecutive month of growth. Although growth has slowed a tad since the start of the year, 2024 is the first year since 2019 in which over a million cars were sold in the first six months.

Jump straight to the list of top 10 best-selling cars

That’s according to car industry trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which also noted that as has been the case all year, growth is being driven by fleet buyers.

Electrified cars of various types — from plug-in hybrids to “self-charging” full hybrids to pure-electric cars — recorded gains last month, following the milestone of one-million battery-electric vehicle (bev) sales reached in January. Year on year, bev sales are only up 7.4 per cent, though hybrids and PHEVs are up 27.2 and 30 per cent, respectively.

That’s quite an achievement and Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said the right incentives for motorists could mean reaching two million EV sales in just two years.

However, Hawes has also rued “sluggish” demand for bevs among private buyers. This is put down to the removal of the plug-in car grant and other financial incentives for private buyers, which has seen expensive bevs fall out of favour; the economics simply don’t add up for some private motorists, particularly as public rapid charging costs have skyrocketed in recent years. For company car drivers, meanwhile, the economics are simple: you’d be silly not to pick an electric car given the benefit-in-kind tax breaks offered.

Addressing the new incoming UK government, Hawes said: “The year’s midpoint sees the new car market in its best state since 2021 – but this belies the bigger challenge ahead. The private consumer market continues to shrink against a difficult economic backdrop, but with the right policies in place, the next government can re-energise the market and deliver a faster, fairer zero emission transition. All parties are agreed on the need to cut carbon and replacing older fossil fuel based technologies with new electrified powertrains is the essential step to achieving that goal.”

The UK’s top ten most popular cars

But what are the UK’s best-selling passenger cars so far in 2024? Here’s the top ten most popular models to date, based on the SMMT’s new car registration figures.

1. Ford Puma: 26,374 registrations in 2024

Ford Puma

The Ford Puma topped the sales charts for 2023 as a whole and it’s proving a major success in 2024, too. Perhaps no surprise as Ford’s entry-level crossover SUV is one of the best-handling and most practical cars in its class.

In his review of the Puma, Jeremy Clarkson said he loved the washable boot (known as the “megabox”) and noted that the feature seemed to be designed by “an actual person who leads an actual life”.

The Puma’s positive reception by critics and public alike helped convince Ford of Europe to put all its resources into SUVs and electrified cars; as a result the Fiesta supermini has been discontinued while a new pure-electric Puma is on the way this year. Quite the changing of the guard.

2. Kia Sportage: 24,139

Sunday Times family car of the year 2022: Kia Sportage

The Kia Sportage family SUV was relaunched in 2022, getting a new chassis and engine line-up along with more modern styling. The interior quality is excellent and the combined 12.3in digital displays give the interior a technologically-advanced look.

At the top of the Sportage range is a plug-in hybrid model developing 261bhp through its combination of 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor. A non-plug-in hybrid is available on this generation Sportage, as well as mild-hybrid petrol models and a diesel, so all buyers will be catered for whatever their fuel preference.

It’s up against polished rivals such as its cousin, the Hyundai Tucson, as well as the VW T-Roc, Tesla Model Y, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Kuga, so competition in this sector is fierce.

3. Nissan Qashqai: 22,881

New Nissan Qashqai crossover SUV

An all-time high for the Nissan Qashqai in terms of sales came in 2022, with it becoming the UK’s best-selling car, though its popularity continued through 2023 and it finished last year as the UK’s second most popular model.

The Qashqai helped popularise the crossover genre, having a bigger impact on the types of cars we drive than almost any other car launched this century. SUVs and crossovers now dominate sales.

The all-new Qashqai launched in 2021 with a hybrid “e-Power” variant, clever technology, a fresher design and more upmarket interior, and we liked it enough to name it our Small SUV / Crossover of the Year. No doubt its sales success has quite a lot to do with our award; you’re welcome, Nissan.

But there’s no denying that whether buying new or used, the Qashqai is a decent and able family car, with good fuel economy, a smart design and lots of tech at an affordable price. Plus it’s built in Sunderland.

4. Nissan Juke: 19,429

2019 Nissan Juke 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show Reveal

We don’t often see the Juke — the Qashqai’s smaller sibling — in the top 10, so Nissan will be delighted that it had two of the 10 best-selling cars in 2023 and that it’s riding high in 2024.

The Juke has been a bit of a Marmite car in the past but the second generation model is an objectively more attractive proposition and the introduction of a hybrid version has clearly caught the eye of many new car buyers who value fuel economy and low running costs.

Like the Qashqai, the Juke is built in Sunderland and so the “buy local” effect may be a factor in its popularity. But the Juke drives well, appeals to young drivers, has plenty of tech and is competitively priced, starting at under £21,000, which makes the compact crossover an attractive proposition for buyers of all ages.

Hopefully, the forthcoming replacement model, announced earlier this year, will continue in much the same vein.

5. Audi A3: 19,209

Static photo of the 2021 Audi A3 Sportback 45 TFSI e S tronic plug-in hybrid

The Audi A3 has been around since 1996 and is now in its fourth generation. It’s built on the same underpinnings as — and is a similar size to — the VW Golf and Seat Leon, but considered a more upmarket alternative to both Volkswagen Group stablemates, with a higher price point (starting at £28,650).

For that reason it’s interesting that it has been outselling both Golf and Leon, again showing we Brits like an upmarket brand. But in some ways the A3 is more versatile than either of those siblings; you can pick up an A3 in hatchback or saloon forms, and in sporty or rip-snorting guises as the S3 and RS 3. Since 2021 there’s been a plug-in hybrid version, too.

The recent facelifted versions are likely to be the last of the petrol-powered A3s, as Audi is set to launch its final fossil-fuelled cars in Europe in 2025, so expect the fifth gen A3 to be pure electric. Buyers seem to be snapping up the dinosaur-burner versions while they can.

6. Volkswagen Golf: 19,036

Jeremy Clarkson didn't want to review the VW Tiguan, so he's reviewed the Golf GTI

You’d have thought the VW Golf would be doing rather better than it has been since Ford discontinued the Focus, especially against more expensive rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, but the current eighth generation version hasn’t been the darling of the motoring press. Many highlight a frustrating touchscreen infotainment system.

Look beyond that, though, and the Golf still has many redeeming features. The ride quality is excellent and the refinement top notch. The handling is pleasing, too, and it comes in many flavours including the sporty GTI and GTI Clubsport, GTE plug-in hybrid, diesel GTD and fire-breathing four-wheel-drive Golf R.

A refreshed Golf, labelled Mk8.5, is now available to order and addresses many of the tech criticisms. It also offers sharper looks and a new plug-in hybrid capable of 62 miles on electric power. The buzz suggests it will win back many hearts and minds. VW dealers will be offering tempting deals on exisiting stock in the meantime.

7. BMW 1 Series: 17,587

The BMW 1 Series, along with the Mini Hatch, Audi A3 and Mercedes A-class, are all strong sellers these days, reflecting Brits’ penchant for premium hatchbacks over more affordable options… no doubt facilitated by PCP finance deals.

It’s easy to see why the current 1 Series is popular: a classy interior, excellent driving feel and increased interior space over older versions.

When it was launched in 2019, standard 1 Series became front-wheel drive rather than the traditional rear-wheel drive, which upset purists. But most buyers won’t notice or care, and the benefits in terms of packaging and grip are clear.

There’s something for everyone, too, from the well equipped entry-level 118i SE, with its efficient 136bhp petrol engine, to the hot M135i X-Drive, which gains four-wheel drive and a 306bhp powerplant.

A significant revision for the 1 Series has been unveiled which is sure to bolster the car’s success later in 2024.

8. MG HS: 16,730

A visit to the top 10 best-selling cars is unusual for MG, though it could be a sign of things to come. Although a British brand, MG is owned by Chinese state-owned megacorp SAIC, and many can see Chinese companies dominating global vehicle production and sales over the coming years.

The MG HS is the brand’s rival to the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Ford Kuga and the many others in the crowded mid-sized crossover segment, though with prices starting at £24,030 it’s able to undercut its competitors.

The price reflects its refinement, though, and reviews show the cost savings are apparent inside, in its driving manners and under the bonnet.

Still, it’s a smart-looking thing, thanks to a design refresh in 2023, and you can’t argue with its practicality, seven-year warranty or price tag.

9. Hyundai Tucson: 18,182

The Hyundai Tucson creeps back into the top ten following a strong sixth-place finish in June, no doubt helped by the arrival of the first examples of the facelifted model.

Given that the Tucson shares its underpinnings with the Kia Sportage, it’s perhaps surprising that it’s not closer to that car in the sales charts. Buyers can choose from a wide range of powertrains, from simple petrol engines to “self-charging” hybrids and a powerful, efficient plug-in hybrid option.

10. Volkswagen T-Roc: 15,667

Volkswagen’s compact SUV has become almost as popular as the more conventional Golf by offering a semi-premium, well-made and well-equipped rival to the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Niro and Mazda CX-30.

Comfortable and pleasant to drive, the T-Roc is a great family car, and it’s offered in a wide range of guises to suit every customer. There are frugal 1-litre petrol options for those at the affordable end of the market, and there are all-wheel-drive options for those who might venture off road. There are even convertible examples, and a high-performance ‘R’ model.

Whichever model you pick, it’ll offer the same balance of robust quality and premium tactility, with lots of tech for those who like their gadgets.

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