2016 (Half Year) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

UK new passenger vehicle registrations increased by 3.2% between January and June 2016 to a new record high 1,420,636 cars. Ford and the Fiesta remained Britain’s top-selling car brand and model.

Ford Fiesta ST200 Geneva 2016

During the first half of 2016, the British new car market expanded by 3.2% to 1,420,636 new passenger vehicle registrations – the strongest first half of a calendar year ever recorded in the UK. However, in June 2016, car sales were down a modest 0.8% with Brexit adding a major element of uncertainty for the car market in Britain during the second half of 2016. Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen lost market share but remained the top-three brands. The Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus were again the three most-popular car models in Britain in 2016.

The British Car Market in 2016 (First Half)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the United Kingdom expanded during the first six months of 2016 by 3.2% to another record January to June period of 1,420,636. During the first half of 2016, more than 40,000 more cars were sold in Britain compared to the previous record half year in 2015.

However, June 2016 was the first negative month since October 2015, which brought a period of 43 consecutive months of growth to an end. In June, car sales in Britain declined by 0.8% but the outlook for the second half of 2016 is very uncertain. Political uncertainty is generally a negative factor on car sales but some buyers may bring purchase forward hoping to avoid higher import prices due to a weaker currency. July and August are traditionally low-volume months so the first useful indication of market direction will only emerge when the September figures become available in October.

Best-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

The following were the top-selling car marques in Britain during the first half of 2016 according to new passenger vehicle registration figures released by the SMMT:

2016MarqueHY 2016HY 2015% Change% Market share
13Land Rover42,55936,16417.73
31Alfa Romeo2,7052,6123.60.19
39Aston Martin467496-5.90.03
41Other Imports1,9081,04482.80.13
42Other British42337911.60.03

*Citroen figures for January to May 2015 include DS sales.

Top-Ten Best Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

There were no changes in the top-ten marques in Britain although the rank order changed slightly.

The top three best-selling car brands in Britain remained Ford, Vauxhall and Volkswagen but all three had weaker sales in an expanding market with Vauxhall and Volkswagen each losing a full percentage market share. Vauxhall’s market share fell below 10%. Volkswagen was the worst performer of the top-ten brands in the UK and had sales down by nearly a fifth in June 2018.

BMW improved from sixth place last year to fourth in 2016. Audi slipped one place with sales just above market average. Mercedes-Benz was the most-improved brand amongst the top ten marques and improved from seventh a year ago.

Nissan slipped two positions with weaker sales while Peugeot kept eighth place despite weaker sales. Toyota and Hyundai also maintained their positions from a year ago with positive sales but increases below market average.

A few further salient features from the British car sales statistics for the first half of 2016:

The most-improved brands amongst the top 30 were Jaguar, Smart and Jeep.

The worst performers amongst the top 30 were Mitsubishi, Seat and Volkswagen.

Renault increased sales by more than a fifth and moved up two rank positions. Land Rover also improved two positions with much stronger sales.

DS sales are included in Citroen figures for January to May 2015 making comparative statistics such as the 1000% sales increase nonsensical.

Top Ten Best-Selling Cars in Britain in 2016 (First Half)

The ten top-selling cars in Britain during the first half of 2016 according to the SMMT were:

2016Model2016 (HY)2015 (HY)
1Ford Fiesta68,83371,990
2Vauxhall Corsa42,35650,125
3Ford Focus38,71545,078
4Volkswagen Golf37,57738,261
5Nissan Qashqai33,65634,501
6Vauxhall Astra28,40629,996
7Volkswagen Polo28,00028,980
9Vauxhall Mokka22,462NA
10Mercedes-Benz C Class22,06924,676

The order of the top seven best-selling cars in Britain during the first half of 2016 was unchanged from a year ago. The Ford Fiesta comfortably remained Britain’s favorite car in 2016 but all of the best-selling car models sold in lower volumes than during the first six months of 2015. The volume declines were especially strong for the Corsa and Focus.

Despite Volkswagen’s current woes, the VW Golf remained the favorite foreign branded car in the UK. (The Ford cars are mostly imported from Germany too.)

The Nissan Qashqai was again the best-selling Japanese car and the favorite SUV in Britain.

Mini sales increased allowing the BMW-owned brand to improve two rank positions from a year ago. The Vauxhall Mokka is a new entrant, at the expense of the Audi A3 that was the eighth best-selling car model in the UK last year. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class slipped on position as the tenth most-popular car model in the UK in 2016.

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance writer with over 20 years of experience in online writing. His best-selling cars website has been reporting car sales statistics since 2008 with classic car auction prices focusing on the most expensive automobiles sold at public auctions in the past decade. He also owns the travel websites European-Traveler.com and Lake Geneva Switzerland. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Finance from the University of London.