Another year has passed in the car world and what a year it has been! Before 2020 rolls around, bringing us into a new decade as well as a new year, it’s time to reflect on the most popular cars of this year. We’ll also look at what the trends of this year tell us about the health of the motor industry and our expectations for the year ahead.
The changing state of the motor industry
It’s old hat that the motor industry isn’t doing brilliantly, and an overall sales drop of 2.7% confirms that. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for us petrol heads. The biggest cause of decline is the 22% drop in diesel sales. Because of the various emissions scandals and the need to battle climate change, it’s not hard to see why we’re turning away from them.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that the demand for electric vehicles is on the rise. We bought 135.6% more battery-powered vehicles and 16.4% more hybrid electric vehicles this year – but 21.5% less plug-in hybrid vehicles. With more and more companies turning their attention towards fully-electric programs, these numbers shouldn’t change much in the year ahead. Finally, to put a smile on all our faces, the sales of petrol cars increased by 2.2% in 2019! It’s meagre, but they’re still the most popular cars on the market.
Cars that became more popular in 2019 – and some that didn’t!
Four companies increased their market share by over 12% this year and it seems only fitting to mention their achievements.
MG – up 35.41%
Out of those that grew this year, MG was the biggest winner of all. It has it’s excellent little ‘3‘ to thank for such a staggering increase in market share. The ‘3’ is a cheap city car on paper but a true pleasure to drive. What’s more, the fantastic finance options offered by MG really helped sales take off.
Lexus – up 24.89%
A silent dark horse. Lexus had a phenomenal year despite flying under the radar with a range of low-profile hybrid releases. The overall growth in popularity of plug-in hybrids and battery-powered electric vehicles vindicated Lexus’ decision to go with just two combustion-powered vehicles.
Porsche – up 20.41%
Perhaps surprisingly, Porsche had a great year in 2019. Interest in the soon to be released Taycan sent their figures through the roof. We expect great things from them in 2020 too with several versions of this all-electric vehicle due for release plus an all-new version of the 911.
Volvo – up 12.45%
Volvo made a revolutionary decision this year as they stopped making combustion vehicles altogether. Seeing as Volvo’s range will solely be hybrid and electric vehicles in 2020, they should keep growing thanks to the demand!
At the other end of the scale, Maserati, Infiniti, Mitsubishi and Smart saw their market shares plummet considerably. Hopefully, they’ll bounce back next year, especially in Smart’s case. A new electric ForFour is coming soon amid the growing demand for electric vehicles.
The Top 10 Most Popular Cars of 2019
And so, without further ado, here are the most popular cars of 2019. We’ve used the total number of units registered in the UK as a basis, drawing on data from SMMT and Statista.
1. Ford Fiesta – 73,665 units sold
Are we really that surprised? The Fiesta has been one of the UK’s favourite cars for over a decade now, mainly because it appeals to everyone. If you want something sensible, cheap to run and easy to drive, it’s a fantastic choice. On top of all that, there’s the ST version which delivers a bit more oomph to those who want it.
2. Volkswagen Golf – 54,409
Another very predictable entry to our list. What hasn’t been said about the Golf that we can say now? The Golf has always been fun to drive, spacious, affordable and reliable. If all that wasn’t enough, the GT version has been the pioneer of hot-hatches for thirty years now. When you throw creative ad campaigns into the mix, we’re not surprised that so many people bought a Golf this year.
3. Vauxhall Corsa – 53,637
The Corsa has been a leading small car for as long as we can remember, for a very good reason. It’s reasonably cheap, well-equipped and very easy to drive. No matter who you are, the Corsa gives you everything you could possibly want and then plenty more besides! There’s no wonder so many young drivers turn to the Corsa for their first car.
4. Ford Focus – 53,358
The younger brother has usurped the older one here. The Focus has had another very good year but it is still languishing behind the Fiesta. Bearing in mind it does basically everything the Fiesta does with a few extra bells and whistles, it’s hard to see why there’s such a gap. Although we reckon the price tag might have something to do with it…
5. Mercedes A-Class – 50,674
Initially, we were a little surprised that the up-market A-Class was the fifth most popular car this year but then we worked it out. It stands out in the small car market thanks to its higher spec and so appeals to a whole new demographic. If you want a small car with a bit of suave, the A-Class is a great option.
6. Nissan Qashqai – 50,014
It has plenty of critics but that hasn’t put over 50,000 of us off! The Qashqai gives a reasonable amount of equipment at a great price. Plus, Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility system brings autonomous driving one step closer! We didn’t think we’d see this SUV in our most popular cars list. It’s had a remarkable year but we’re not sure it’s a success is going to continue. We’re happy for the Qashqai to keep proving us wrong though!
7. Ford Kuga – 38,031
From one SUV to another. The slightly more expensive Kuga has been comprehensively outsold by the Qashqai despite having safety, comfort and practicality on its side. However, this long-established model is by no means tired. A new makeover for 2020 should see the Kuga on our list of popular cars this time next year as well.
8. MINI Hatchback – 37,203
Despite the German feel of the current crop of MINI’s, it’s still a British brand at heart. It’s not so ‘mini’ anymore but the extra space makes this a great family car. With a range of gadgets available and a brand new MINI coming in 2020, there’s never been a better time to buy one. And, as it’s one of the most popular cars this year, plenty of people agree!
9. Volkswagen Polo – 34,738
The biggest surprise with the Polo is that it’s only the ninth most popular car of 2019. Just like the Golf, it’s practical and reliable but the price tag of the Polo might have put some people off. In an incredibly competitive market, £15,000 for a small car is a lot. There are a lot of good options available for less than £12,000 – and money talks!
10. Kia Sportage – 32,825
A plucky entry to round off the top 10. Kia isn’t the oldest or most exciting car brand but they’ve made a very good SUV. It’s almost £1,000 cheaper than the Qashqai and, with the SUV market being more expensive than most, it’s no surprise that the Sportage takes the final spot on our list.
Has anything changed from last year?
Yes and no. The list of popular cars for 2018 features exactly the same personnel but the order has shuffled slightly this year. The top three positions are locked down, despite the Golf and the Corsa closing the gap to the Fiesta.
However, it’s all changed in the middle order. The A-Class gained three places this year while, perhaps surprisingly, the Polo plummeted three places in the other direction. The big, soon-to-be-discontinued Qashqai lost two places this year and dropped out of the top five, while the Kuga jumped up two places – even with a new model due very soon. The MINI made a small loss, the Focus a small gain and the plucky Sportage closed the gap to ninth after another solid year of sales.
Our top picks for 2020s most popular cars
Now, we’re almost certainly jumping the gun here – but we’re going to do it anyway! Here are five cars which we think will sell like hotcakes in 2020. Hopefully, come December next year, at least one of them will be right…
A cool new Mini with a range of snazzy trim packages? And it’s an all-electric city car good for up to 145 miles of driving? Yes, please!
Ford Kuga (2020 model)
The old model might have sold extremely well this year, but you might want to hold off buying it. With an all-new model expected early next year, we’re fairly sure this popular car is just going to keep climbing.
Fiat 500 E
A stylish, upmarket, electric upgrade of the chic small car. What’s more, it opens up a whole new option for those buyers that aren’t a 17-year-old girl.
Hyundai I10 (2020 model)
The I10 is everything a small car should be. The 2020 model is a great redesign of a great little city car, so don’t miss out!
This model is already here and ready to go! The new Clio is as smart and sexy as it’s always been and, with even more gizmos to boot, why wouldn’t you want one?
Overall, it’s been quite a strong end to the decade for the car industry. Electric cars have been a big factor in limiting the decline and we reckon the growth of this sector will continue throughout 2020 and beyond! Why don’t you let us know your thoughts in the comments below?