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10 Most Popular Cars in the UK (2024 Update)

Toyota Yaris

While 2021 was a difficult year for car manufacturers and retailers around the world, continuing the 2020 trend that arose as a result of the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns initiated in a bid to curb its spread. A global shortage of semiconductors also continues, and according to some experts, won’t abate until the end of 2023. With that said, there was an increase in car sales of 1% during 2021, but this still represented a nearly 30% drop compared to 2019, the last year before Covid was a factor.

One sector of the car industry that has outperformed the overall market is the electric car sector, and Tesla is the single biggest benefactor of a significant swing, caused by rising petrol prices stemming from the war in Ukraine. These global and seismic shifts have seen the car market undergo some radical changes, especially in terms of the best-selling cars.

Below are the 10 best-selling cars in the UK in 2021, including how many of each model were sold.

car and road divider

The 10 Most Popular Cars in the UK

1. Vauxhall Corsa

vauxhall corsa car
Image Credit: Mikes-Photography, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 41,000

The Ford Fiesta is nowhere to be seen in 2021’s top 10 best-selling cars and it is the Vauxhall Corsa that benefits from its disappearance. A new generation was introduced in 2021, which included an all-electric Corsa-e series and this new range has seen the Corsa sell 6,000 more cars than its closest competitor, giving it a comfortable lead. The Corsa was 2020’s second most popular car, behind the aforementioned Ford Fiesta.

2. Tesla Model 3

tesla model 3
Image Credit: capitalstreet_fx06, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 35,000

We know that 2021 proved to be the year of the electric car. Petrol prices hit new record high levels and continued to go up, while hundreds of new charging points, including rapid charging points, were added to the network.

These factors helped Tesla cement its place as a major player in the car manufacturing industry. The Model 3 is the company’s most affordable model. It comes in Standard Range and Long Range models and has a futuristic interior that is filled with technology and features. Incredibly, even in November of 2021, the Model 3 was not even in the top 10, but it went on to sell nearly 10,000 units in December to take the number 2 spot with 35,000 units sold over the 12 months.

As well as being the second best-selling overall car of 2021, the Model 3 was the best-selling electric car.

3. Mini

mini red volkswagen
Image Credit: Kishan Modi, Unsplash
Cars Sold in 2021: 32,000

The Mini is another range that has benefited from the introduction of an all-electric vehicle in its range: the Mini Electric. And, like the Tesla, it had an exceptional end to the year that helped thrust it up the rankings. It was the best-selling car in November and the 2nd best-selling in December, eventually selling 32,000 units in 2021. The Mini was the 7th best-selling car in 2020 with roughly the same number of sales.

4. Mercedes A-Class

mercedes a class a200 car
Image Credit: Mikes-Photography, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 31,000

The Mercedes A-Class is one of a host of hatchbacks, including the Corsa and Mini above, and while 2020 saw rivals like the Ford Focus, Fiesta, and the Volkswagen Golf all sell more cars, Mercedes has fared much better this time around. It sold 31,000 cars and did so without the introduction of an all-electric variant, although the plug-in hybrid A-Class was the best-selling PHEV of the year. It was the fifth best-selling car in 2020 but while it did move one place up the list for 2021, it did so by selling more than 6,000 fewer cars.

5. Volkswagen Polo

black volkswagen polo
Image Credit: kampfmonchichi, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 31,000

The Volkswagen Polo was just edged out of fourth place by Mercedes, but it does appear above the Volkswagen Golf and not only did it move up three places from 8th in 2020 to 5th in 2021, but it sold 4,000 more cars in the year compared to the year before as well. There is a wide range of Polo trims available from the standard S trim to the high-performance GTI model.

6. Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen GOLF
Image Credit: MaxWdhs, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 30,000

Just behind the Volkswagen Polo comes the Volkswagen Golf. The Golf featured in third place in 2020’s list so 6th represents quite a drop. It is accompanied by 13,000 fewer sales over the year, too. If Volkswagen had badged the all-electric ID.3 as being a Golf because it is very similar in most respects, then the Golf would have been competing with the Vauxhall Corsa for the top spot.

7. Nissan Qashqai

Cars Sold in 2021: 30,000

The Qashqai is a steady performer for Nissan. It is unlikely to ever make the top of the sales list, but it hovers at around 30,000 sales per year and this year’s 7th position is only one place lower than 2020’s 6th placed finish. There is no all-electric variant of the Qashqai, and if Nissan does introduce one, that may help boost its numbers further, considering the increased popularity of electric vehicles. It did especially well in November and December of the year and was the year’s best-selling SUV.

8. Ford Puma

silver ford puma
Image Credit: Mark Dickson, Unsplash
Cars Sold in 2021: 29,000

Many people will still remember the Ford Puma as the company’s coupe from the 1990s, but this iteration of the Puma is a compact crossover SUV and having launched in 2019, it is doing surprisingly well in sales volume. In fact, it narrowly missed out on being the year’s best-selling SUV, coming in just behind the well-established Qashqai. Its popularity has surprised many.

9. Kia Sportage

Kia sportage running along thick pine trees
Image Credit: Hyunday Motor Group, Unsplash
Cars Sold in 2021: 28,000

The Kia Sportage didn’t feature in the top 10 in 2020 but the launch of a new model helped it rise up the ranks for 2021. Eventually, after a lacklustre start to the year, sales picked up and the Korean SUV is one of several SUVs that are trailing just behind the Nissan Qashqai. If its improved sales figures, boosted by the launch of the new model, continue, it could well take the SUV crown next time around.

10. Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris
Image Credit By: ajgpforografia, Pixabay
Cars Sold in 2021: 27,000

The Toyota Yaris has been around for some time now, but it did particularly well in 2021. The launch of the new hot hatch trim, the GR, helped improve its reputation, even though that model itself didn’t sell too well. Having not featured in the top 10 for 2020, the Yaris has done well to beat out Peugeots and Renaults and sneak into the top 10 for 2021.

car and road divider


The car industry has faced several challenges and considerable changes in the past two years. And, with petrol prices still high and semiconductor supply levels still low, the turbulence does not look likely to stop any time soon, even though the UK looks unlikely to undergo any further Covid-related restrictions. While the Vauxhall Corsa took the top spot, it is the emergence of the Tesla Model 3 as the 2nd best-selling car of 2021 that is perhaps the biggest shock.

Featured Image Credit By: ajgpfotografia, Pixabay


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