Best selling cars in the UK 2023

We run down the top ten most popular cars in the UK, both new and used, and track the shift from traditional fuels to electric power

By Craig Hale

Do you like to live your life at the sharp end of current trends? If you wear the latest fashion and use the most cutting edge phone, why not drive one of the most popular cars, too?

If you're looking for a new car, and you want to make sure you're driving something that's up to date and in vogue, this list of the best-selling cars in the UK will be a good place to start scoping out potential ideas.

The best thing about this top 10 list is the variety of cars that are on it. You could go for the most popular car of 2022 so far - the Vauxhall Corsa - or you could also go for something bigger like the Nissan Qashqai, the best-selling SUV in 2022.

Depending on how relevant you're looking to be, you might be more interested in which cars are the hot topic right now, in which case electric cars capable of more than 200 miles from a full charge like the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y may be of interest, both of which have appeared in the best-selling list earlier in 2022.

The best-selling cars in October 2022 (72 plates)

Now, you might be wondering how you're going to be able to afford to buy the very latest cars. Well, there is the option of purchasing a used version of the exact same car that is being sold right now, so you'll be hitting the same trend at a much lower price.

Used car finance can be a great way to make your next car purchase more affordable, you can read about the finer details in our expert guides, but essentially you'll be able to split the cost of the car over a period of up to five years with a series of smaller monthly payments. You won't own the car while you're paying for it, but you'll at least be able to drive it.

The best news is that BuyaCar is here to do all of the hard work for you. In many cases, we'll even arrange delivery of the car right to your door, so you don't even need to leave the house.

The most popular cars of 2022 to date are listed below, so you can get straight on and find the one that appeals to you, and it won't be long until you're hitting the road in your fashionable new car.

The most popular cars of 2022

1. Nissan Qashqai

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The Nissan Qashqai is credited with starting the large crossover boom when the first version launched in 2006. This third generation builds on the previous two versions' successes, adding even more equipment. Every version gets bright LED headlights, rear parking sensors and digital dials, while top-spec Tekna+ models get massaging front seats, keyless entry and an upgraded Bose sound system.

The 1.3-litre petrol engine comes in two forms: 140hp and 158hp. It gets mild hybrid assistance as standard, which promises to reduce emissions and boost mpg figures, while an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive are options, too.

2. Vauxhall Corsa

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The Vauxhall Corsa is extremely popular, and it's quite easy to see why. Aside from its modern looks the Corsa is affordable with PCP finance, comfortable and well equipped inside, and powered by strong and economical engines.

It's a relatively practical small car, with a good amount of boot space and five doors, which even makes it usable as a family car. The Corsa has always appealed to a younger audience, and this latest version looks to be expanding on that fact by outselling even its closest rivals by a wide margin.

3. Ford Puma

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Among the huge variety of SUVs and crossovers available on the market today, the Ford Puma has proven one of the most popular in 2022 after featuring in the top 10 in 2021. It's been around for a couple of years now following the resurrection of the Puma name, and it has announced itself as a capable competitor to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

Along with its bold styling and tidy interior, the Puma is also comfortable, good to drive, and powered by the same strong engines that have graced the likes of the Fiesta and Ford Focus.

4. Kia Sportage

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The Kia Sportage offers a raised ride height and a decent amount of boot space, helping to firm its position as one of Britain’s favourite SUVs, and indeed the best seller this year to date.

A new version hit the roads early in 2022, so it’s this one that will make up the majority of Kia’s sales as the year goes on. There’s a wide choice of 1.6-lite engines, ranging from regular petrol and diesel versions to mild hybrid, self-charging hybrid and a plug-in hybrid capable of around 20-30 miles of electric motoring in real-world conditions.

5. Mini Hatchback

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It's never a surprise to find that the Mini Hatchback is still a hugely popular car. We just can't turn away from the style and charisma that oozes from every surface. After a controversial start to life, the new Mini has long since found acceptance from the British public.

This latest version of the Mini first launched in 2014, but two updates in the meantime have kept it feeling fresh, while the driving experience remains sharp and exciting. The introduction of the new Mini Electric in 2020 has also helped to broaden the Mini's appeal.

6. Hyundai Tucson

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The Hyundai Tucson shares many of its parts with the Kia Sportage above, including numerous hybrid versions of the 1.6-litre engine. Its distinctive grille design that incorporates LED daytime running lights helps it to stand out from the crowd.

Part of its appeal is its large 620-litre boot, which offers significantly more space than you’d find in the Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, and even the Sportage.

7. Ford Kuga

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The Ford Kuga has long been a family favourite for those who need a bit more space and a raised driving position. It's based on the Ford Focus, and feels similar in size from behind the wheel.

While diesel versions have been available, new cars only come with a 1.5-litre petrol or a pair of 2.5-litre hybrids. The self-charging hybrid should return about 50mpg, while the plug-in version will exceed 280mpg when plugged in regularly, according to Ford.

8. Volkswagen Golf

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Just making it into the top 10, slipping past the Mercedes A-Class, the similarly sized Volkswagen Golf remains a big seller several decades after it first launched.

The figures include all variants of the Golf, including mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, alongside the regular petrols and diesels. There are also performance GTI, GTD, and GTE versions, as well as estate models, so the Golf's appeal should be far-reaching.

9. Kia Niro

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This second-generation Niro is arguably a better-looking car than the dull-looking model it replaces. Like that, it's available in self-charging hybrid and plug-in hybrid forms. There's also an electric-only model capable of nearly 300 miles of range.

Of the 20,000-or-so Niros that were sold in 2022, not all were of this second generation. Because the first version continued to sell strong until it was discontinued, in time, we will likely see plenty become available on the used car market, many of which still available with some coverage remaining on their seven-year warranties.

10. Tesla Model Y

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Drivers after the (relative) affordability of the Model 3 with a more practical hatchback-style boot opening and a high-up driving position may want to consider the Model Y. Like the Model 3 and the rest of the Tesla range, it gets free over-the-air updates to maintain all aspects of the car, from safety systems like its 'Autopilot' adaptive cruise control to toys and games on the large touchscreen.

For several months, it was only available in Dual Motor four-wheel-drive form, as a Long Range or a Performance model. More recently, a cheaper, rear-wheel-drive version became available. Tesla has sold more than 20,000 of these so far in 2022, however rather than delivering according to customer orders, the company tends to batch deliver when a lot of them become available. September saw more than 8,000 of them delivered, making up 40% of the whole year's figures.

Most popular cars by fuel

While electric cars might not be leading the way in terms of overall sales, they made a pretty strong start to life in 2022. In February, the number of electric cars sold was almost three times the number from February 2021, and so far this year the sale of EVs is up by 38% compared with the same period last year. Conversely, plug-in hybrid sales have suffered, seeing a 13% year-on-year decrease in sales.

With a whole load more new electric and hybrid cars hitting the market over the next 12 months we expect to see that kind of growth continue all year long. So if you're looking to get ahead of the curve and join the new wave of electric car drivers, you can check out a range of affordable used electric cars available here on BuyaCar.

Any fans of diesel meanwhile might want to look away now, though, because diesel car sales continue to fall on a monthly basis - to the point where they were the least popular type of 2022 so far, making up just 5.5% of all new cars sold. Combined with mild hybrid diesels, they just about make up one-tenth of the market.

It's a dramatic drop in popularity. Overall diesel sales in 2016 reached 1.2 million, accounting for almost half of all new cars sold in the UK. But with diesel emissions coming under greater scrutiny, and the threat of diesel surcharges and taxes growing, demand has decreased dramatically. There were 135,773 recorded diesel car sales in 2021, a number that amounted to just 8.2% of the overall market share.

Meanwhile, petrol cars accounted for fewer than half of the UK's new car sales in 2021, and even less so this year. The trend of drivers moving away from traditionally fuelled cars is becoming clearer, but it will be a while yet before the supremacy of petrol cars is overthrown entirely - in the eyes of many drivers, there is still no substitute for the security and convenience that comes with petrol - even if electric car drivers might have enjoyed skipping the queues during the fuel crisis not too long ago. Mild hybrid petrols have been virtually just as popular as plug-in hybrids so far this year, each making up around 14% of the market.

Most popular used cars

The latest SMMT used car sales figures show that the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular car on the used market into the third quarter of 2022, with 74,892 (more than Q1 and Q2 figures). It's a long way ahead of the next most popular model, the Vauxhall Corsa, which saw 58,305 transactions.

Used car sales are showing signs of recovery, with 7,530,956 used cars finding new homes in 2021, up 11.5% from 6,752,959 in 2020 - a year badly affected by lockdowns and other restrictions. 2021 sales were still 5.5% below the pre-pandemic five-year average. That said, tightening household budgets resulting from rocketing energy prices, the falling value of the pound, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and so many more aspects, have not been favourable to used car sales. So far, there have been 10% fewer used car sales compared with the same period last year.

The most popular colour used car in the first three months of 2022 by a long shot was black, followed by blue and grey in a very close second and third place.