2017 (Q1) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK reached a new record during the first quarter of 2017 with Ford and the Fiesta the top-selling car marque and model.

Jaguar iPace at Geneva 2017

At the start of 2017, the British new car market set new records for March and the first quarter of a year when 562,337 cars (+8.4%) were registered in March and 820,016 cars (+6.2%) during the first three months of 2017. Ford remained the best-selling car brand in the UK and gained market share at the expense of second placed Vauxhall. Volkswagen remained the third largest marque with sales below market average. The Ford Fiesta was again the top-selling car model while the Ford Focus regained second place from the Vauxhall Corsa.

The British New Car Market in 2017 (Q1)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the United Kingdom (UK) increased by 6.2% during the first quarter of 2017 to a new record 820,016 cars. A new record was also set for March – traditionally a very important month for the British car market – when sales increased by 8.4% to 562,337 cars. The previous record was 525,897 cars back in August 1997.

The market was slightly influenced by a change in tax regime with alternative fuel cars increasing by 30% to 33,405 vehicles or a market share of 4.1%. Petrol cars remained the most popular with a 52% market share while diesel cars’ share was down by only 1% to 44%.

However, the outlook for the rest of 2017 is less positive. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “These record figures are undoubtedly boosted by consumers and businesses reacting to new VED changes, pulling forward purchases into March, especially those ultra-low emission vehicles that will no longer benefit from a zero-rate fee. This bumper performance probably means we will see a slowdown in April, exacerbated by the fact there are fewer selling days this year given Easter timing. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we still expect the market to cool only slightly given broader political uncertainties as there are still attractive deals on offer.”

Best-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2017 (Q1)

The 30 top-selling car marques in the UK during the first quarter of 2017 were as follows according to the SMMT:

Marque Q1/2017 Q1/2016 % Share % Change
Total 820,016 771,780  100 6.25
1 Ford 104,524 93,897 12.75 11.32
2 Vauxhall 66,733 75,032 8.14 -11.06
3 Volkswagen 59,778 57,443 7.29 4.06
4 Mercedes-Benz 54,837 47,239 6.69 16.08
5 Nissan 53,350 43,843 6.51 21.68
6 BMW 49,481 46,495 6.03 6.42
7 Audi 47,780 47,380 5.83 0.84
8 Toyota 35,039 30,788 4.27 13.81
9 Land Rover 29,739 24,118 3.63 23.31
10 Kia 29,705 24,162 3.62 22.94
11 Peugeot 28,393 30,991 3.46 -8.38
12 Hyundai 27,856 25,368 3.4 9.81
13 Renault 25,126 23,959 3.06 4.87
14 Skoda 22,322 20,422 2.72 9.3
15 Citroen 18,347 21,354 2.24 -14.08
16 Honda 17,771 19,709 2.17 -9.83
17 Fiat 17,577 18,665 2.14 -5.83
18 MINI 17,267 16,178 2.11 6.73
19 SEAT 16,782 13,390 2.05 25.33
20 Mazda 15,169 17,191 1.85 -11.76
21 Suzuki 13,951 11,545 1.7 20.84
22 Volvo 13,582 11,508 1.66 18.02
23 Jaguar 13,134 8,680 1.6 51.31
24 Dacia 8,206 7,453 1 10.1
25 Mitsubishi 5,104 6,585 0.62 -22.49
26 Lexus 3,894 4,337 0.47 -10.21
27 Porsche 3,737 3,326 0.46 12.36
28 smart 3,217 2,837 0.39 13.39
29 DS 3,211 5,284 0.39 -39.23
30 Jeep 2,762 3,746 0.34 -26.27

Top-Selling Car Marques in Britain in 2017 (Q1)

Ford easily remained the best-selling car brand in the UK during the first three months of 2017. Ford sales grew at twice the market average allowing Britain’s leading carmaker to increase its market share by more than half a percentage point.

Second place Vauxhall in contrast was the only top-ten marque with weaker sales in the UK during the first quarter of 2017. An 11% decline in sales led to a decline in market share of more than 1.5%.

Volkswagen had stronger sales but marginally below the market average. However, VW remained the third largest car brand in the UK.

Mercedes-Benz halved the distance to VW and with strong sales improved one sales position from a year ago – the best performance by a “German” premium car brand. Nissan sales in the UK in 2017 were up by a fifth allowing for two sales position improvements from a year ago.

BMW maintained sixth place with sales in line with the broader market. Audi sales in the UK during the first quarter of 2017 were flat and in a growing market Audi slipped from fourth to seventh place.

Toyota sales in Britain improved by 14% and one rank position.

Very strong sales saw Land Rover enter the top ten from 12th last year and just 34 cars more than Kia that entered the top ten for the first time (from 11th).

Peugeot slipped out of the top ten (from 8th) with weak sales. PSA’s other marques performed even worse: Citroen sales were down 14% while DS was with a decline of 39% the worst performing brand in the UK thus far in 2017.

Hyundai slipped from 10th place to 12th despite strong sales – ironically, its place was taken by sister brand Kia.

The most improved marque in the UK during the first quarter of 2017 was Jaguar with sales up by more than 50%.

The worst performing car brands in the UK during the first three months of 2017 were DS, Jeep and Mitsubishi.

Top Ten Best-Selling Car Models in the UK in 2017 (Q1)

Britain’s ten favorite car models during the first three months of 2017 were as follows according to the SMMT:

Car Make & Model Q1/2017 Q1/2016 Q1/2015
1 Ford Fiesta 38,205 36,327 39,804
2 Ford Focus 23,886 20,656 22,287
3 Vauxhall Corsa 21,305 24,579 29,100
4 VW Golf 19,223 19,428 19,435
5 Nissan Qashqai 19,071 18,680 18,686
6 Vauxhall Astra 17,915 14,764 15,009
7 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 15,461 NA 13,975
8 VW Polo 15,453 15,162 14,821
9 Mini 12,973 NA NA
10 Nissan Juke 12,935 NA NA

The Ford Fiesta easily maintained its position as Britain’s favorite car. Fiesta sales were slightly higher than during the first three months of 2016 but still lower than the numbers sold during the first quarters of 2015 and 2014. Fiesta sales were influenced by the model being changed in coming months and not all versions being available.

For the first time in three years, the Ford Focus regained the position as the second best-selling car in Britain with stronger sales. The Vauxhall Corsa slipped back to third with weaker sales.

The VW Golf remained Britain’s fourth best-selling car with sales only marginally weaker than a year ago. Nissan Qashqai sales were only marginally stronger but sufficient to keep the car in fifth place for the third consecutive year. Britain’s favorite SUV should be helped later in the year by a model update.

The new Vauxhall Astra was well received with stronger sales and one sales position higher than a year ago.

The Mercedes-Benz C Class re-entered the top ten list – it was ninth two year ago.

VW Polo sales in Britain were stronger than during the first quarter of 2017 but in a growing market it still cost the Polo two sales positions.

The Mini and Nissan Juke were new entrants on the top ten list of Britain’s favorite cars during the first three months of 2017.

The three car models slipping out of the top ten list from a year ago were the Vauxhall Mokka (from 9th) as well as two long-time members of the list: the Audi A3 (from 8th) and the Fiat 500 (from 10th).