Top 10 best-selling cars

Last updated: Feb 4, 2016

Don’t think that the most popular new cars in Britain are all cheap and cheerful runabouts. Thanks to a blend of cheap finance deals, deposit contributions and all manner of other new car incentives, upmarket models rub shoulders with more common-or-garden cars.

The new car market as a whole is in rude health. Last month was the best January for new car registrations, the measure of new car sales and lease deals, since 2005. Importantly for the health of the new car market, registrations to private individuals (opposed to companies) have reached the highest level since 2004.

Sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles climbed too. Registrations increased by 32% to take a record 3.6% of the total new car market. Petrol hybrids grew most in popularity, with a 44% increase, followed by plug-in hybrids (up 32%) and pure electric cars (14.1%).

Perhaps as a result of the ongoing Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, diesel car registrations only grew by 0.6%, compared to petrol cars which grew by 3.7%.

As ever, the Ford Fiesta is king of the British new car market. Ford shifted more than 124,000 last year, and has added a further 8,300 to that in January alone.

But despite the VW emissions saga, the Volkswagen Golf was Britain's fifth most popular car in January, followed by the Volkswagen Polo in 7th place and the Audi A3 in 8th.

Keep reading for a run down of the country's best-selling cars of 2015.

Ford Fiesta hatchback

More cars bearing the Ford Fiesta name have been sold in the UK than any other model. The current version went on sale in 2008, with a facelift surfacing in late 2013. It has dominated the best-seller chart more than any other car. It's not hard to see why: the Fiesta is handsome inside and out, well built and comfortable. But it's how the car drives that really sets it apart - it offers a fun driving experience that's close to some so-called sports cars. It's safe, too, with a full five-star crash-test rating, while the most economical models can top 85mpg and emit so little CO2 that road tax is free. At the other end of the scale is the Fiesta ST, which is our favourite small hot hatchback. With a range like that, there's something for everyone. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£10,245 - £18,495

Nissan Qashqai SUV

The Qashqai kick-started the crossover SUV class when the first generation arrived on UK shores in 2007. With a raised driving position, relatively compact size for an SUV and running costs similar to a conventional hatchback, it's not hard to see why the Qashqai is such an attractive prospect. This model, the second generation, has built on the original's success by adding a sharper design, comfortable ride and more technology. The 1.5-litre diesel engine can return up to 70mpg, while the deceptively powerful 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol is great for urban driving. Because of its popularity, the Qashqai now has a rival from almost all mainstream manufacturers, but (at least for now) it still represents the best all-rounder. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£18,545 - £28,910

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback

There's plenty of choice for Vauxhall Corsa buyers. You can choose from three or five-door bodystyles, eight engines and nine trim levels. But the reason buyers are still flocking to Vauxhall's supermini is because it's so easy to drive, so cheap to run and such good value. The latest model offers a more upmarket interior than before, plus a cracking 1.0-litre turbocharged engine. But if it's fuel economy you crave, check out the 1.3-litre diesel - what it lacks in refinement, it more than makes up for in efficiency - it can return more than 88mpg if you drive it gently. If it's more power and fun you're after, Vauxhall will sell you a VXR model, which has 202bhp, making it good for a 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds. Read more.

Key points

4 / 5
Price 
£9,495 - £17,725

Ford Focus hatchback

Revisions to the Ford Focus last year have helped this family car maintain a high place on the list of Britain's best-selling models. The current version features more eye-catching styling that makes it look more upmarket than before. It still boasts a wide choice of engines, ranging from the excellent 1.0-litre EcoBoost to the powerful 2.0-litre petrol in the Focus ST performance model. No changes were needed under the metal, because the Focus is as good to drive as it ever was. Buyers will spot some differences inside, though, as it's now fitted with Ford's SYNC 2 infotainment system, with voice recognition and the ability to read out text messages. Plus, there are fewer buttons on the dashboard, making this equipment easier to operate than before. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£15,995 - £25,885

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

The upmarket Volkswagen Golf is another stalwart of Britain's top-selling cars, despite the diesel emissions scandal which has engulfed VW. Few models have such a classy image, meaning they fit right in whether you're parked at the local football club or a posh country club. Estate and convertible models are available, but most choose a three or five-door hatchback. There are versions that'll return almost 90mpg and performance models like the Golf GTI and Golf R that are capable of delivering sports-car thrills. Whichever Golf you choose, you'll find it well built, comfortable, safe and fun to drive. The Golf range is well equipped, too: air-con, Bluetooth, DAB digital radio and a dashboard-mounted touchscreen are all standard. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£17,595 - £27,735

Nissan Juke SUV

The Nissan Juke was designed to capitalise on the success of the Nissan Qashqai and the growing enthusiasm buyers have for tiny SUVs. Its quirky looks clearly aren’t a problem for the thousands who buy them every month, and even after its launch back in 2010, there still isn’t really anything that looks quite like it. There’s not a huge amount of space in the back seats or boot, but its high driving position and efficient engines make it an ideal car for round-town use. The 1.5- and 1.6-litre diesel engines make the Juke a good motorway cruiser too. Although most models are front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive is available to give more confidence in slippery driving conditions. All models are well-equipped, but we reckon the mid-spec Acenta trim is the best as it features climate control and a more upmarket interior than the entry level Visia model. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£13,930 - £21,910

Volkswagen Polo hatchback

Britain's always had a love affair with the supermini - as evidenced by the popularity of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa - and the Volkswagen Polo is no exception. Despite the company's issues in 2015, the Polo has remained a supremely popular product, with its high-class interior, comfortable ride and reasonably sharp handling combining well with its subtly handsome looks and reasonable running costs to make it a popular little car. It also feels like a very high-quality proposition, while also being very well equipped. The small turbocharged petrol engines are the pick of the range, although if you do loads of miles, then we'd recommend you go for the 1.4-litre diesel. If you're after a hot hatchback, however, the GTI is one of the more sensible of the breed, although you might have more fun in a Ford Fiesta ST or Vauxhall Corsa VXR. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£11,495 - £20,110

Audi A3 Sportback hatchback

The Audi A3 is the biggest selling 'premium' model, despite being tarred with the VW Group diesel emissions scandal. If you put that to one side - as plenty of buyers are clearly doing - both the three-door Audi A3 hatchback and the slightly larger five-door Audi A3 Sportback are excellent all-rounders. Unsurprisingly, the A3 Sportback takes the lion's share of sales, thanks to a good-sized boot and enough space in the back seats for most people's needs. It's good to drive, although the VW Golf is arguably more fun, but there's no doubting the quality feel of the interior. The diesel engines offer good fuel economy (diesel emissions scandal notwithstanding), but our favourite engine is the exceptionally smooth and quiet 1.4-litre TFSI petrol, which can switch off half of its cylinders when they're not needed in order to save fuel. Read more.

Key points

4.2 / 5
Price 
£19,485 - £35,690

Vauxhall Astra hatchback

The Vauxhall Astra has always been a big seller, and this latest version is a major improvement over any of the previous iterations. It's good value for money, stylish, good-to-drive and practical, while the excellent range of petrol and diesel engines are both powerful and cheap to run, too. Our pick of the petrols is the 104bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder which is a strong performer, but still emits less than 100g/km of CO2, making it free to tax. If you're a business user, or a private buyer who does loads of miles, then a diesel will likely tickle your fancy and in this regard, we recommend the 109bhp 1.6-litre, which is the most efficient in the range. It'll return nearly 80mpg and CO2 emissions are rated at just 94g/km. This means no road tax and a BiK rating of just 16% - impressive for what isn't a small car. Read more.

Key points

4.5 / 5
Price 
£15,295 - £23,520

Mercedes C-Class saloon

How can a Mercedes possibly be one of Britain’s best-selling cars? After all, it’s an upmarket brand that sells considerably more expensive models than the rest of this list. Well, the latest version of the C-Class is an excellent car, first and foremost. It has one of the nicest interiors in the business and is very comfortable. The C220d makes an appealing company car choice because of its low CO2 emissions making for a low company car tax rate. Plus the range starts at less than £33,000, which to put in perspective, is the same sort of money you can spend on a Ford Mondeo with a few options. Although petrol and hybrid models are available, the diesels make the most sense, even if the 2.1-litre engine is a bit rattly compared to equivalents from BMW or Audi. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£27,665 - £69,405