Demand for diesel cars slumped again in July, as sales of hybrid and electric vehicles soared. We take a look at the other winners and losers, and count down the top 10 most popular new cars
UK new car registrations fell by 9.3% in July compared with the same month last year – the fourth consecutive month of decline following a record start to the year.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) attributes this downturn to uncertaintly caused by the general election and changes to VED road tax introduced on 1 April.
Sales of diesel cars fell particulary dramatically in July, with them down 20.1% on the same period in 2016, while demand for petrol cars shrank by 3.1%. However, the news wasn’t all bad; the number of alternative fuel vehicles (such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars registered was up by 64.9%, even if these still accounted for just 5.5% of the total market.
Most of the best sellers were hatchbacks, such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, while some SUVs and executive saloons also feature. Below, we take a look at the top 10.
The top 10 sellers for May 2017:
10. Audi A3
Audi’s A3 is available with a range of strong and efficient engines, but the turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine is particularly good. Avoid the optional sports suspension, and the A3 also strikes an excellent balance between comfort and control. We’d recommend the Sportback version, which comes with five doors and more rear leg room to boost practicality. However, whichever A3 you go for, you’ll be getting a stylish, premium family hatchback with a beautifully built interior.
July sales 2607
9. Mercedes A-Class
The A-Class’s sporty looks will be enough to convince some buyers to part with their money, but that design means practicality isn’t as good as it should be. The rear seats feel cramped and there’s less head and leg room than you’ll find in most other family hatchbacks. Combine that with average boot space, a firm ride, noisy engines and high prices, and the A-Class becomes a difficult car to recommend.
July sales 2809
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 1.0-litre petrol engine with SRi specification for the best package.
July sales 2819
7. Mercedes C-Class
The C-Class is a strong contender in the executive saloon market, and is a popular company car. Its interior is classy and fairly practical, and even the entry-level models come loaded with equipment. True, it’s not as sharp to drive as some other cars in this class, and some of its engines can be gruff, but if you spec it right, the C-Class is a fine choice.
July sales 2828
6. Kia Sportage
The Sportage is well priced, especially if you go for our recommended 2 trim level. 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 otherwise the Sportage ticks most boxes for families in need of a small SUV.
July sales 3155
5. Volkswagen Polo
The Polo is a great choice if you’re looking for a small hatchback that’s also classy inside. It’s one of the quietest cars in its class, and the 1.2-litre petrol engine we recommend is smooth and fuel efficient. Just bear in mind that an all-new Polo will arrive in the UK in January.
July sales 3227
4. Ford Fiesta
The Fiesta has now slipped to fourth place after year’s as the UK’s favourite car, but that’s mainly because a new version is due in September. The outgoing car is still great fun to drive, though, while its Ecoboost petrol engines are punchy, quiet and frugal. It’s only the infotainment system and the interior design that feel dated.
July sales 3372
3. Nissan Qashqai
The Nissan 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.
July sales 4640
2. Volkswagen Golf
The Golf continues to be a hugely popular choice. 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 might be a little pricier than some rivals, and its boot isn’t the biggest around, but in every other respect it’s a superb car.
July sales 5236
1. Ford Focus
For many people, the Ford Focus is the de facto family hatchback, which explains why it was the best-selling car in the UK in July. But while it’s fun to drive and comes loaded with kit, many of its 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, then the 1.5-litre diesel is the most sensible choice.
July sales 5251