Best selling cars

Last updated: Oct 17, 2014

Each month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) releases figures detailing the UK's best selling cars. It's been an impressive couple of years for the British car industry, with August 2014 representing 30 consecutive months of growth – with new car registrations up 10.1% year-on-year.

Buyers are looking at more and more alternatively-fuelled vehicles this year, too, with sales of electric and hybrid cars up 51.3% in the first six months. Although none of those appear in the list below, they account for an increasing proportion of sales this year. While that may be a small proportion of the 1.2 million cars sold from January to June, their market share is increasing at quite a rate.

All the cars you see here offer decent value for money, while also being practical, comfortable, stylish and good to drive. To help secure sales, a model should offer a good range of specifications, from basic models with the bare essentials, to range-topping cars with loads of kit and high performance engines.

Here, we run down the best selling cars of 2014, so keep reading for the Carbuyer guide to the UK's top-selling cars.

Ford Fiesta hatchback

The Ford Fiesta has dominated the best selling cars list ever since it first launched in 2008. All Fiestas are good to look at inside and out, are well built, comfortable, and fun to drive. Even the basic model has electric windows and a CD player, while all Fiestas get a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. The most economical model can return economy of up to 85.6mpg and emits just 87g/km of CO2 for free road tax. If it’s near-lightning pace you seek, the performance-orientated Ford Fiesta ST can get from 0-60mph in just 6.9 seconds and is lots of fun to drive. Read more.

Key points

4.7 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £17,995

Ford Focus hatchback

The new Ford Focus’ sharp looks should help it maintain its position near the top of the UK car sales charts. It has lots of standard equipment, including the SYNC 2 infotainment system with advanced voice recognition and the ability to read text messages aloud. Plus, it’s cut down on the amount of buttons required for the dashboard, so the Focus now feels more upmarket inside. What hasn’t changed is the Focus’ great handling, which makes this the family car of choice for keen driver, particularly when you factor in Ford’s latest EcoBoost turbocharged petrol engines. Read more.

Key points

4.4 / 5
Price 
£13,995 - £25,995

Volkswagen Golf hatchback

Along with the Ford Focus, the Volkswagen Golf is an excellent all-rounder. Its build quality is excellent and, although the styling is a little conservative, it has proved to be one of the most recognisable cars on the market. The Golf is also fun to drive and offers a comfortable ride, while all models boast a five-star Euro NCAP rating. All Golfs come with air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity and a DAB digital radio, while a dashboard-mounted touchscreen is also standard. The Golf Bluemotion can return excellent economy of 88.3mpg and qualifies for free road tax, while the Volkswagen Golf GTI can do 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds. Read more.

Key points

4.6 / 5
Price 
£17,175 - £25,770

Vauxhall Corsa hatchback (2006-2014)

Healthy discounts, strong dealer networks and public loyalty to UK brands have undoubtedly helped the Vauxhall Corsa into the UK’s list of top-selling cars. It's by no means a terrible choice, but the Corsa is not one of the best models in its class – though we hope a new model due later this year will change that. Positives are the spacious cabin, low running costs and a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP but there are quite a few areas in which the car could be improved. The styling, for example, could be more distinctive, the driving experience needs to be better and equipment levels could also be more generous. However, the most economical Corsa can return 85.6mpg and emits 88g/km of CO2 – easily on a par with the more popular Ford Fiesta. Read more.

Key points

2.4 / 5

Volkswagen Polo hatchback

The Volkswagen Polo is just like a smaller version of the Volkswagen Golf. That means it has good – although slightly conservative – looks, and is well built inside and out. A revised version is on the way, and while it isn't as much fun to drive as the Golf, it still feels more grown up than rivals like the Kia Rio and Vauxhall Corsa. We'd advise avoiding the more basic models with underpowered engines that become strained and noisy at high speeds. All cars get a DAB digital radio, electric front windows and central locking, and some models even manage 81mpg fuel economy. All Polos have a five-star Euro NCAP rating for safety. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£11,250 - £19,865

Fiat 500 hatchback

The Fiat 500 is a stylish hatchback that promises cheap running costs and a lower list price than the popular MINI hatchback. The 500 might not be as fun to drive, but it is still a perky performer. Fiat offers the 500 with a wide range of colours and accessories, so it’s easy to make your 500 stand out from the crowd. Models such as the Volkswagen up! are more practical, though. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£10,420 - £16,070

Vauxhall Astra hatchback

The Vauxhall Astra is a much easier car to like than the smaller Corsa. While the Astra is not as fun to drive as the Ford Focus, it is not far off, with well-weighted steering and suspension that strikes a good compromise between comfort and good handling. The engines also strike a good balance between economy and performance – ranging from economical diesels to the super-quick VXR petrol model. All cars get air-conditioning and remote central locking, and the Astra also has a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. Read more.

Key points

3 / 5
Price 
£12,995 - £25,285

Audi A3 hatchback

The Audi A3 offers an upmarket badge, along with the choice of four body styles - including two hatchbacks, a saloon and a desirable convertible. All models are based on the Volkswagen Golf, but the extra money you’ll pay for the Audi gets you a higher quality interior. The Audi is good fun to drive and comfortable on the motorway. Both the saloon and hatchback are practical, with decent boots, while the convertible is one of the best-looking cars on the road. Read more.

Key points

4 / 5
Price 
£18,575 - £32,420

Peugeot 208 hatchback

With the Peugeot 208 the French company has attempted to rekindle the magic of the Peugeot 205 – a car that had buckets of charm and was lots of fun to drive. The 208’s clearly been a success with the car-buying public and it is easy to see why when you first lay eyes on the pretty little Peugeot. A good range of engines and a broad choice of trim levels mean there is a 208 to suit everyone, from the basic 1.0-litre petrol to the fast GTI. It’s just a shame that it isn’t quite as much fun to drive as Ford’s Fiesta. Read more.

Key points

3.8 / 5
Price 
£9,995 - £18,545

Nissan Qashqai SUV

The previous Nissan Qashqai was a huge success for Nissan and the new car looks on track to continue that. Its combination of SUV looks and low running costs should prove popular, but it also feels more grown-up than its predecessor, which should help broaden its appeal. It has a classy new interior that feels better built than before, plus even more economical engines. The new model isn’t quite as much fun to drive, but it’s quieter and more comfortable. Safety has also improved, with the Qashqai’s five-star Euro NCAP rating making it one of the safest cars in its class. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£18,265 - £28,500

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