Best-selling cars in Britain 2018

Ford's Fiesta tops the table of the best-selling cars in Britain during August 2018, as sales surge

BuyaCar team
Sep 5, 2018

Click on the gallery above to look at the ten best-selling cars last month and how many they sold.

New car sales surged in August as manufacturers slashed prices to clear vehicles that can no longer be sold under new emissions reglations.

Last month more than 94,094 new cars were registered, an increase of 23 per cent over the same period last year. The rise was entirely down to an increase in electric, hybrid and petrol car buyers. Diesel sales were down. 

Every type of new car sold since the beginning of this month must have gone through a new type of emissions test. Although there were some exemptions, retailers were left rushing to clear old stock before the end of August.

As well as big discounts, many outlets are thought to have pre-registered large numbers of cars to avoid the deadline. These can still be sold as used cars, even though they are as good as new, with a dealership listed as their first owner.

It's good news for buyers as the increased supply of these pre-registered models should result in competitive deals throughout the autumn, but it may reduce demand for new cars this month. Demand is usually strong in September thanks to the release of a new number plate - 68 in this case.

The sell-off ahead of the emissions deadline sees unfamiliar cars in the list of best-selling cars last month. These include the Suzuki Swift and Seat Leon. The Ford Fiesta remains Britain's best-selling car, though.

Sales of plug-in hybrid cars more than doubled last month, compared with August 2017. These cars can be charged for around 20 miles of electric driving before a conventional engine takes over. A total of 3,322 were sold, an increase of 168 per cent over the previous year, helped by pre-registrations and an updated version of the Mitsubishi Outlander, which is Britain's best-selling plug-in hybrid.

Electric car sales were up by 38 per cent, while standard hybrid sales went up by 57 per cent. Hybrid and electric vehicles now account for one in twelve of all new car sales.

The decline of diesel continues, with just three in ten new car buyers opting for the fuel last month. This meant petrol sales rose by 39 per cent and it's now the fuel of choice for more than three in five new car buyers. 


Best-selling cars 2018

Best-selling cars in August

Best-selling cars, year-to-date


Best-selling cars: the winners

The rush to clear cars before the end of August is thought to have inflated the sales of several manufacturers, giving the impression of surging demand, which may or may not be there.

Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, McLaren, MG, Subaru and Suzuki all more than doubled sales in August, compared with the same period the year before. Honda, Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Seat and Volkswagen recorded sales increases of over 50 per cent.

Many of these manufacturers have seen large sales increases throughout the year, particularly MG, which has boosted sales with its new ZS, above.


Best-selling cars: the fallers

Not all manufacturers recorded large sales increases in August. Some may have had few cars to shift before the September emissions cut-off; others may just not be selling the cars tat buyers want.

Citroen's luxury brand, DS, was one of the largest fallers, with sales plunging from 312 in August 2017 to just 88 last month, as the company waits for most of its line-up to be repalced over the coming two years.

News was similarly dismal at Nissan, where sales dropped by 33 per cent, not helped by the lack of demand for diesel versions of its big-selling Qashqai and X-Trail. It was worse at Infiniti, Nissan's luxury brand, where just 44 cars were registered in August - 80 per cent fewer than the 340 during the same month last year.

Vauxhall remains one of the most popular brands in Britain but demand dipped last August, as sales fell by 24 per cent.


Best-selling used cars

The most recent SMMT used car sales data shows that the Ford Fiesta (above) is also the most popular car on the used market: 92,569 used Fiestas changed hands in the first three months of 2018, ahead of the 83,781 Ford Focus models in second place.

Vauxhall then followed with its Corsa and Astra; the Volkswagen Golf rounded off the top five.


Best-selling cars by fuel

Diesel cars now account for fewer than a third of new cars sold: two years ago, they made up more than half. Buyers have mainly been switching to petrol models, causing sales of those cars to increase by 39 per cent in August, compared with the previous year.

Hybrid cars recorded even larger sales increases: sales of conventional petrol-hybrid models, such as the Toyota Prius, were up to 3,494 in August, which is a year-on-year increase of 38 per cent. These cars have a motor that recovers energy when braking and then uses it to boost power when accelerating.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles, with a larger battery pack that can be charged up and used to drive on electric power alone for around 20 miles, witnessed a 168 per cent sales increase to 3,322 cars.

After a slow start to the year, electric car sales are now speeding up, helped by the launch of new models, such as the Nissan Leaf and Jaguar I-Pace. In August, 659 cars were sold - up by 38 per cent.


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