2019 (Half Year) Britain: Best-Selling Car Brands and Models

During the first semester of 2019 Ford remained Britain’s best-selling car brand followed by Volkswagen and Vauxhall. The Fiesta was the top-selling model.

The Mercedes A Class is increasingly popular in Britain

January to June 2019: despite losing market share, Ford remained the largest carmaker in the United Kingdom during the first semester of 2019. Volkswagen was again second followed by Vauxhall. Mercedes-Benz moved ahead of BMW. The Ford Fiesta was again the top-selling car model in Britain during the first half of 2019 but sales were sharply down. The Ford Focus moved back into second place at the expense of the VW Golf. The Nissan Qashqai remained the best-selling SUV in Britain despite weaker sales.

British New Car Market in 2019 (First Half)

New passenger vehicle registrations in the United Kingdom during the first six months of 2019 contracted by 3.4% to 1,269,245 cars compared to 1,313,994 sold during the first semester of 2018. The British market was hit by uncertainty regarding Brexit but also uncertainty over future emission regulations.


Petrol remained by far the most popular choice for new cars in Britain with a market share just shy of two thirds. In contrast, diesel sales have been in decline for the previous 27 months. Battery electric cars continued to grow in popularity but the sales of plug-in hybrids took a hit from a change in government subsidies.

Best-Selling Car Brands in the UK in 2019 (Half Year)

New passenger vehicle registrations by marque in the UK was as follows in the first semester of 2019 according to car sales data released by the SMMT:

MARQUEHY 2019HY 2018% Change 18/19% Market share 2019
12Land Rover42,09241,4321.593.32
32Alfa Romeo1,8622,537-26.610.15
Source: SMMT

Top-Selling Car Brands in Britain in 2019 (First Half)

There were no changes in the order of the top three best-selling car brands in the UK during the first six months of 2019 but all three had weaker sales. Ford remained the leading car marque in Britain but sales were down by 12% with market share shrinking by a full percentage point to just over 10%. Ford was the worst-performing brand of the top ten in the UK during the first semester of 2019.

Volkswagen outperformed the broader market and despite weaker sales shrunk the gap to Ford from more than 30,000 cars during the first half of 2018 to only 18,000 in 2019. During the first six months of 2017, Ford sold 60,000 more cars than VW.

Vauxhall sales were weaker but in line with the general market.

Mercedes-Benz increased sales in Britain and regained fourth place from BMW that had weaker sales but still gained market share. Audi sales were down by 9%.

Toyota and Kia each moved up one rank position with stronger sales. Kia was the best performing top ten brand in the UK in 2019. Nissan slipped two rank positions while Hyundai maintained its top-ten position despite weaker sales.

The most-improved car brands in the UK during the first half of 2019 were MG, Dacia and Volvo. The worst performing of the top 30 brands were Porsche, Smart, Honda and Ford. Smaller brands generally performed dismally in the UK at the start of 2019.

Best-Selling Car Models in Britain in 2019 (Half Year)

The top ten best-selling car models in the UK during the first half of 2019 according to the SMMT were:

Model2019 (HY)2018 (HY)2017 (HY)2016 (HY)2015 (HY)
1Ford Fiesta43,29756,41559,38068,83371,990
2Ford Focus32,23930,75740,04538,71545,078
3Volkswagen Golf31,49339,93036,70337,57738,261
4Vauxhall Corsa29,98228,00333,56042,35650,125
5Nissan Qashqai29,18030,06633,57433,65634,501
6Mercedes-Benz A Class27,90420,00222,944NANA
7Volkswagen Polo23,60522,02727,20528,00028,980
9Ford Kuga20,42521,784NANANA
10Toyota Yaris19,147NANANANA
Source: SMMT

Top Ten Car Models in the UK in 2019 (First Semester)

Despite only one new entry onto the top ten list of best-selling cars in Britain during the first half of 2019, only two cars maintained their rank positions compared to the first semester of 2018.

The Ford Fiesta maintained its position as Britain’s favorite car model, however, sales were sharply down. The Fiesta sold in numbers as high as 72,000 during the first half of 2015.

The Ford Focus regained second place from the Volkswagen Golf. Focus numbers were influenced by a model change while an update of the VW Golf is due early in 2020.

The Vauxhall Corsa regained fourth place from the Nissan Qashqai despite the Corsa being due for a major model change towards the end of the year. The new Corsa will be based on the Peugeot 205.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class gained three rank positions and also increased sales volumes the most of any top ten car model. VW Polo sales were also slightly higher but the Polo retained seventh place – a rank position the Polo maintained for four of the previous five years.

The Mini slipped two rank positions while the Ford Kuga slipped one position. The Toyota Yaris rounded out the top ten with a first appearance on the list of the top ten best-selling cars in Britain during the first semester of 2019.

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.