Top 10 best-selling cars

Last updated: Apr 6, 2016

March is always a big month for the British new car market. It sees the introduction of a new registration plate – the 16 plate in this case – and as buyers rush to get a car with the latest number plate it sees a huge uplift in sales.

The month just gone was no exception, with a 5.3% increase in new car registrations compared to March 2015. More than 518,000 new cars were registered in the UK in March – just the third time over half a million new cars have been registered in a single month. This also makes it the biggest month ever since the system was altered to changing the plate twice a year in 1999.

March also sees the numbers for the first quarter published and these figures show that more than 771,000 new cars were sold in the first quarter of 2016. This is a 5.1% increase over the same period in 2015.

Petrol is also starting to take a significant lead over diesel this year, too, petrol attracting over 20,000 extra buyers compared to diesel. More than 260,800 petrol cars were bought last month, as opposed to 240,456 diesel-powered cars.

Alternative-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) – hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and all-electric cars – are also on the rise, with nearly 17,500 new registrations in March 2016. This represents a 21.5% increase over March last year, while 25,714 AFVs have found new homes so far this year – a 23.7% increase compared to the same period last year.

Unsurprisingly, the Ford Fiesta remains Britain's favourite new car, in both the monthly and the year-to-date figures, with the Vauxhall Corsa coming in second in both the monthly and year-to-date figures. The Ford Focus comes in third, while the Volkswagen Golf, Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen Polo come in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively, again in both the monthly and year-to-date numbers.

In the monthly figures, the Vauxhall Astra came in seventh, followed by the MINI hatchback, Fiat 500 and the Audi A3 hatchback. The Astra also came seventh in the year-to-date league table, followed by the Audi A3 in eighth with the Vauxhall Mokka and Fiat 500 in ninth and tenth places respectively.

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

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 
£9,595 - £17,825

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 
£17,625 - £27,785

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 - £28,990

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 
£11,525 - £20,140

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

MINI hatchback

Ever since its re-imagination under BMW stewardship in 2001, the MINI hatchback has been a hit with buyers and this one's no exception. Great to look at, fantastic fun to drive and massively desirable, the MINI ticks an awful lot of boxes. Yes, there are more practical (and cheaper) rivals out there, but very few can match the MINI's "I want one" desirability. Add in the almost limitless personalisation options (although you'll want to be careful with these as they can get very expensive very quickly) and low running costs - pretty much across the range - and you can see why it's such a popular car. Read more.

Key points

4.1 / 5
Price 
£14,075 - £21,400

Fiat 500 hatchback

It was subtly updated last year and ever since then, the already popular Fiat 500 hatchback has come on leaps and bounds. It uses a similar recipe for success as the MINI just above it in this table of retro-chic looks, a huge amount of personalisation options and a premium image to make it hugely desirable. Granted, it’s even less practical than the MINI and nowhere near as good to drive, but it has a certain ‘x-factor’ that makes people desire it. In fact, the revitalisation of the 500 has proved to be so popular for Fiat that it’s started to name a whole range of cars after its diminutive star, including the 500X SUV and 500L MPV. Read more.

Key points

3.4 / 5
Price 
£11,050 - £15,200

Audi A3 Sportback hatchback

The Audi A3 is the biggest selling 'premium' family hatchback, 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 
£22,135 - £35,690