The UK’s new car market continued to shrink in January, with much of the decline coming from diesels
The number of new cars sold in the UK in January fell by 6.3% compared with last year, as buyers continue to avoid buying new diesel cars.
More than 163,500 cars were sold in the first month of 2018, but sales of diesel cars declined by more than 25%, meaning such cars now account for just 35% of the market. That drop can partly be blamed on the continuing uncertainty surrounding new diesel cars – including the new tax implicationsannounced in November’s autumn budget.
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While sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles – which include hybrids and electric cars – were up by 23% compared with January 2017, they still account for a small percentage of the total market at just 5.5%. The SUV market was the only segment to grow in January, showing the continuing popularity of these cars, while the biggest declines hit MPVs and executive cars.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said: “The ongoing and substantial decline in new diesel car registrations is concerning, particularly since the evidence indicates consumers and businesses are not switching into alternative technologies but keeping their older cars running.
“We need government policy to encourage take-up of the latest advanced low-emission diesels as, for many drivers, they remain the right choice economically and environmentally.”
10. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The C-Class is an executive saloon with a focus on comfort rather than performance or agility. It’s not as good to drive as the rival BMW 3 Series and its interior isn’t on the same level as the Audi A4, but spec it right and the C-Class is a competent companion.
January sales 2478
9. Ford Kuga
Ford’s family SUV is more agile than most rivals and the diesel options will make good sense to company car buyers. Go for an entry-level Zetec model and you’ll have all the essentials; air conditioning, electric windows and cruise control all come as standard. Some alternatives, most notably the Mazda CX-5, offer better value for money, though.
January sales 2580
8. Vauxhall Corsa
There’s plenty to like about the current Corsa, including its spacious interior, keen pricing and the fact that you get plenty of kit as standard. That said, a fiddly infotainment system and so-so handling keep it from being counted among the class leaders. Team the most powerful 1.0-litre petrol engine with SRi specification for the best package.
January sales 2587
7. Kia Sportage
The Sportage is well priced, especially if you go for our recommended 2 trim. Plus, it holds its value well and has a practical interior. True, the 1.7-litre diesel engine isn’t the last word in refinement, and the driving dynamics can’t match the best in this class, but the Sportage ticks most boxes for families in the market for a small SUV.
January sales 2622
6. Mercedes-Benz A-Class
Mercedes makes some great cars, but the current A-Class isn’t one of them, because its steering is inconsistent, the ride is overly firm and most rivals are more practical. It’s a shame because the A-Class looks great inside and out. Fortunately, a new A-Class will go on sale later this year.
January sales 3358
5. Vauxhall Mokka X
The Mokka X is the smallest of Vauxhall’s SUV trio, sitting underneath the Crossland X and Grandland X. The Mokka X is stylish and well equipped – especially in our recommended Design Nav specification – and our favourite engine is the mid-range 1.4-litre petrol.
January sales 3767
4. Nissan Qashqai
The Qashqai is the car that started the trend for small, family-friendly SUVs and it remains one of the best following a recent update. True, there are cheaper alternatives, such as the Suzuki SX4 S-Cross, but the Qashqai makes up for its price premium with a spacious and well-designed interior, solid build quality and superb comfort and refinement.
January sales 3851
3. Ford Focus
For many people, the Focus is the de facto family hatchback. But while it’s fun to drive and comes loaded with kit, many rivals offer more space and feel classier inside. If you’re mainly going to be driving around town, the 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine is ideal; if you need more grunt for regular motorway use, the 1.5-litre diesel is the more sensible choice.
January sales 4105
2. Volkswagen Golf
The Golf is a mainstay of this list. What’s more, it’s fully deserving of its success, blending a comfortable ride with class-leading refinement and a spacious and classy interior. It may be a little pricier than some rivals and its boot isn’t the biggest around, but in every other respect the Golf is a superb car.
January sales 4310
1. Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta has been consistently among the most popular cars in the UK for some time now, so it’s no surprise to see the latest model continues to take the top spot in 2018. Like its popular predecessor, this new version is great fun to drive and available with Ecoboost petrol engines that are punchy, quiet and frugal. However, it feels more modern inside and has a much better infotainment system.
January sales 8335