2017 (Q3) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

Ford was again the top-selling car brand in the UK but Volkswagen overtook Vauxhaul. The Fiesta the favorite car model during the first nine months of 2017.

Yellow Ford GT Geneva 2017

September 2017: Ford remained the best-selling car marque in the UK during the first three quarters of 2017 but Volkswagen moved ahead of Vauxhall. The Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and VW Golf were the top-selling car models thus far in 2017. The British car market contracted by 4% thus far in 2017 with sales down 9% in September 2017.

The British New Car Market in 2017 (Q1 – Q3)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the UK contracted by 3.9% to 2,066,411 cars during the first nine months of 2017. It was the third consecutive year of car sales above 2 million during the first three quarters of the year – a figure not seen between 2014 and 2004.

However, September 2017 sales were down 9.3% during a traditionally very important month for the UK car market due to a change in number plates. This was the sixth consecutive month of lower car sales in Britain and also the first time in six years that September car sales were lower in the UK.

According to Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, “September is always a barometer of the health of the UK new car market so this decline will cause considerable concern. Business and political uncertainty is reducing buyer confidence, with consumers and businesses more likely to delay big ticket purchases. The confusion surrounding air quality plans has not helped, but consumers should be reassured that all the new diesel and petrol models on the market will not face any bans or additional charges.”

British car buyers do not seem to share his optimism or trust that diesel cars will not be penalized or values affected negatively in future. The market share of diesels continued to fall with only 42.8% of new cars thus far in 2017 having diesel engines compared to 48% in the first three quarters of 2016. In September 2017, the market share of new diesel cars was even lower at 40.1%.

The Best-Selling Car Brands in the UK in 2017 (Q1 – Q3)

New passenger vehicle registration data for the UK during the first nine months of 2017 released by the SMMT show the following as the 30 best-selling car marques in the UK:

Marque Q1-3/2017 Q1-3/2016 % Change
Total 2,066,411 2,150,495 -4
1 Ford 234,180 254,220 -8
2 Volkswagen 165,376 163,020 1
3 Vauxhall 161,751 202,956 -20
4 Mercedes-Benz 146,342 136,892 7
5 Audi 138,535 138,411 0
6 BMW 137,793 138,656 -1
7 Nissan 127,391 119,836 6
8 Toyota 84,802 80,918 5
9 Kia 76,571 72,949 5
10 Hyundai 75,315 73,649 2
11 Peugeot 67,818 80,986 -16
12 Land Rover 66,956 63,644 5
13 Skoda 63,267 63,310 0
14 Renault 58,646 68,112 -14
15 MINI 51,801 51,716 0
16 Honda 44,784 49,656 -10
17 SEAT 44,237 36,912 20
18 Citroen 43,410 53,793 -19
19 Fiat 38,453 49,868 -23
20 Volvo 36,574 34,861 5
21 Mazda 33,777 39,764 -15
22 Suzuki 33,685 31,593 7
23 Jaguar 29,054 26,416 10
24 Dacia 21,075 20,923 1
25 Mitsubishi 12,774 14,753 -13
26 Porsche 10,933 9,799 12
27 Lexus 10,398 11,422 -9
28 smart 8,760 9,349 -6
29 DS 7,831 13,767 -43
30 Jeep 5,492 11,762 -53

The Top-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2017 (Jan to September)

Most of the top 30 car brands in Britain changed sales rank position during the first nine months of 2017 compared to the start of 2016 but Ford easily retained its position as the best-selling car brand in the UK. However, Ford underperformed and sold 20,000 fewer cars in Britain than a year ago.

More dramatic was Volkswagen finally moving into second place at the expense of Vauxhall, which for decades was the second most-popular car brand in the UK. VW sales were slightly up but the change was mostly due to Vauxhall sales plummeting by a fifth.

The three German so-called premium luxury brands all had different fortunes in the UK thus far in 2017: Mercedes-Benz sales were up 7%, Audi sales were practically unchanged while BMW sales were slightly lower. As a result, Mercedes-Benz and BMW swapped rank positions with Audi remaining in the middle. Fourth place is the highest ever for Mercedes-Benz in Britain.

The rest of the top ten all had stronger sales. Nissan remained in 7th while Toyota moved up one place to 8th and Kia entered the top ten from 11th.

Hyundai remained at 10th while weak sales for Peugeot saw the brand dropping out of the top ten from 8th a year ago. In addition to Vauxhall that became part of the PSA Group, DS also had a disastrous nine months in the UK with sales down by 43%. Only Jeep performed worse.

Seat was the most-improved marque in Britain with sales up by a fifth. The only other two brands with sales increasing by double digits were luxury car brands Jaguar and Porsche.

Best-Selling Car Models in Britain in 2017 (Q3)

The following were the top-selling car models in Britain during the first nine months of 2017 according to the SMMT:

Models Q1-3/2017 Q1-3/2016 Q1-3/2015
1 Ford Fiesta 64,988 96,139 108,054
2 Ford Focus 47,291 57,137 69,053
3 Volkswagen Golf 44,218 54,954 59,200
4 Nissan Qashqai 39,698 50,293 49,715
5 Vauxhall Corsa 38,038 64,925 72,835
6 Vauxhall Astra 36,360 44,771 42,687
7 Volkswagen Polo 32,266 43,642 45,537
8 Mercedes-Benz C Class 31,471 34,994 35,505
9 Mini 28,647 36,738 35,679
10 Mercedes-Benz A Class 26,875

Top Ten Most-Popular Car Models in the UK in 2017 (Q1-3)

Nine of the ten most-popular car models in Britain thus far in 2017 were also amongst the ten favorite car models a year ago. However, several changed rank positions and all sold far fewer cars during 2017 than in 2016.

The Ford Fiesta was again Britain’s best-selling car model during the first nine months of 2017. However, Fiesta sales were sharply down and the VW Golf was the top seller in Britain a few months this year. Over a full year, the Fiesta has been unbeatable in Britain since 2009.

Fiesta sales were down by more than 30,000 cars. During the first three quarters of 2015, Fiesta sales were 108,000. Fiesta sales were at least partly lower due to a well-published model change and a shortage in cars.

The Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai had sales down by around 10,000 cars each but each moved up one rank position. The Focus was again Britain’s second most-popular car model over the first nine months of the year for the first time in three years. Third is the highest position ever for the VW Golf and similarly fourth for the Qashqai.

The Vauxhall Astra slipped from second to fifth with sales down by 27,000. The Vauxhall Astra maintained sixth despite weaker sales. The aging VW Polo maintained seventh despite much weaker sales – a new model will be launched during the final quarter of 2017.

For the third consecutive year, the Mercedes-Benz C Class moved up one rank position. The Mini slipped back to ninth,

The Mercedes-Benz A Class moved into the top ten for the first time at the expense of the Audi A3 that slipped out of the top ten list after three years.