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The UK's top 10 best-selling cars 2024

May 2024 is now behind us, and with the year well underway, we list the top 10 best-selling cars of the year so far

The UK's best-selling cars hero

We’re now well into 2024, and car sales figures for May have now been released. Recent years have seen the onset of drastic changes to the car market, and a growing emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly motoring, as well as a large shift in buyers’ tastes. Global supply issues that plagued the industry have largely improved, with UK car sales having got back on track in 2023. However, the types of models that now make up the list of the best-selling cars are very unlike what you’d have expected 10 years ago, with a wider selection of traditional, hybrid and electric-powered cars, and the ongoing surge in popularity of SUVs.

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The Ford Puma is still soldiering on as the best-selling car of 2024 so far, with 23,205 examples snapped up and counting, carrying on its success from last year, though it was overtaken by the Kia Sportage in terms of sales figures for May alone. The Kia Sportage is now not far behind the Puma, with 20,026 units shifted in 2024 so far, while the Nissan Qashqai is the third best-seller so far with 19,687 units sold. Interestingly, although the Tesla Model Y was the best-selling EV of 2023, and the fifth best-selling car overall, it’s yet to chart in the overall 2024 figures, and none of the top 10 are fully-electric vehicles, nor are any of the best-sellers for May 2024.

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That said, though electric cars have gone from being a rarity just a few years ago, they now make up 16.1% of all new cars sold in 2024, up from 15.7% at the same point in 2023. High demand for EVs is expected to continue as more and more automakers respond with new plug-in models.

 Best Small Electric Car: BYD DolphinCarbuyer Best Car Awards 2024 - the winners

Recent years of global supply chain, manufacturing issues and the rise in the cost of living saw new car sales dip, but this seems to be over, with an increase of 7.1% in new car sales overall compared to a year earlier; a total of 827,500 new cars have been sold in the first five months of 2024. Pure petrol models still make up 54.9% of new car purchases in May, although this is a 2.1% decrease in market share overall compared to May 2023, and a drop in petrol car market share of 1.2% year-to-date compared to 2023.

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While higher bills continue to put the squeeze on people’s wallets, fuel-sipping self-charging hybrids have seen a 9.6% rise in sales compared to May last year, and they make up 0.6% more of the market share than a year ago. The sales of plug-in hybrid models have significantly increased, however, by a whopping 31.5%, taking 8% of the market share in May 2024, a whole 1.8% more than in April 2023.

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The diesel car market continues to fall, with a 16.7% decrease in sales year-to-date, and comprising only 6.2% of new cars sold in May, 1.4% fewer than last year in the same period.

Seven of the 10 best-selling cars in 2023 were SUVs, and their popularity has remained high through the first five months of 2024, with six SUVs in the top 10 best-sellers.

If you’re interested in making the switch to plug-in power, why not read our list of the best electric cars? Our guide to the best 4x4s and SUVs also showcases the best options available if you’re looking for something with a rugged appearance and high driving position. Keep reading for the UK’s best-selling cars in 2024, according to the SMMT…

Ford Puma SUV review

Ford Puma SUV driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 23,205

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The best-selling car of 2023 was the Ford Puma, and it had a strong start in the first months of 2024, snatching the top spot as the best seller early on. It’s based on the now-discontinued Fiesta, but that car’s cancellation last year made way for the higher-riding Puma, and it’s safe to say that strategy is working for Ford.

The Puma offers much of what we loved about the Fiesta, namely its sporty driving experience, albeit with popular small-SUV styling and more practicality. Configure the Puma with one of Ford’s feisty, yet frugal 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines as well as an automatic gearbox and you’ll have yourself one of the best-handling small SUVs around. We’d go for the sporty-looking ST-Line model as this gets a more aggressive bodykit as well as built-in sat nav and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster which changes appearance depending on which drive mode you’re in.

Kia Sportage review – a popular, economical hybrid SUV

Kia Sportage drive front quarter
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 20,026

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The days of the family hatchback look to be well and truly behind us and mainstays such as the Ford Focus have been replaced in the best-sellers list with of-the-moment SUVs like the Kia Sportage. Offering much more space than the average hatchback, the Sportage’s 591-litre boot should be able to swallow even the largest of prams. The interior is loaded with tech, too, such as an easy-to-use infotainment system and USB-C sockets built into the front seats, thus preventing those in the rear from bickering over who gets to charge their device.

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While, unlike the Kia Niro, the Sportage isn’t available with a fully-electric powertrain, it can still be had with either petrol, self-charging hybrid or plug-in hybrid power. While the plug-in hybrid will surely appeal to company car drivers thanks to its 43-mile range and low 8% Benefit-in-Kind tax rating, we’d recommend the smooth and reasonably powerful self-charging hybrid if you can afford it over the standard mild-hybrid petrol.

Nissan Qashqai review - a comfortable and efficient family SUV

Nissan Qashqai facelift
Carbuyer rating

3.9 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 19,687

Built in Sunderland, the Nissan Qashqai was the best-selling car of 2022, and for 2023 it came in second place just ahead of its mid-sized SUV rivals – it got off to a good start in the first quarter of 2024, too, coming in second place, but has now fallen to third. The latest Qashqai is an evolution of the original which made its debut back in 2007, offering a stylish exterior and spacious interior with enough room for most families. The Qashqai gets Nissan’s latest infotainment setup which is responsive and easy to use, while mid-spec Tekna cars even get fully-digital dials.

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Performance from the two 1.3-litre petrol engines can be described as ‘adequate’ – it’s Nissan’s e-Hybrid powertrain that really steals the show. This utilises a 1.5-litre petrol engine to power an electric motor, providing the same smooth driving experience as an EV. This comes as a benefit to fuel economy, too; the Qashqai e-Hybrid is claimed to return an impressive 53.3mpg on the WLTP test for combined city and motorway driving. The Qashqai is another car that’s just undergone a facelift this year, which brings front-end styling inspired by traditional Japanese warrior armour that should help this popular SUV stand out a little more.

Audi A3 Sportback review – the original premium hatchback

Audi A3 Carbuyer front quarter driving
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 16,520

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The Audi A3 crept into the best-sellers list in 10th place by the end of November 2023, and continues with strong sales well into 2024. The A3 has long set the template for premium hatchbacks, still managing to compete in a market increasingly dominated by small SUVs. It’s currently battling it out with its close rival, the BMW 1 Series, which also features on this list. 

The latest iteration of the Audi A3 is a little more daring than its predecessors in terms of its design, coming in a choice of three trim levels: Sport, S Line and Black Edition – the latter two of which offer an even sportier look that stands out in the crowd. There’s also a saloon version of the A3 that’s a much smaller seller, but evokes a slightly more grown-up, executive feel. The A3 comes with plenty of gadgetry on the inside, with a hi-tech, upmarket interior with an advanced digital dash and infotainment system angled towards the driver, giving it a cockpit-like setup. A wide variety of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid ‘TFSIe’ powertrains means Audi A3 buyers are well catered for.

Volkswagen Golf review – almost perfect, but less intuitive

Volkswagen Golf Black Edition front 3/4 tracking
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 15,573

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The Volkswagen Golf has been a household name for almost half a century now, and the latest model offers a polished drive and improved engines over the model that came before it, making it a compelling choice.

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The latest Golf feels more agile and nimble to drive than the old model, but also strikes a good balance of comfort. Frustrating infotainment and some quality cuts aside, the latest Golf’s interior is more modern and unique than it was before. There’s a long list of trim levels, though most people will be best catered-for with the entry-level Life model that gets 16-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen and even driver assistance features like front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and road sign display. Petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models are all available, as are sporty GTI and R models for the hot-hatch enthusiasts, so most bases are covered.

Nissan Juke review – popular small SUV is sharper to drive

Nissan Juke front quarter
Carbuyer rating

3.8 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 15,538

The Nissan Juke has long been a popular car since the first-generation model hit the scene and kickstarted the trend for small SUVs. The most recent model is a big improvement over the one that came before it, and it’s now the sixth best-selling car of 2024, so it’s still a hit with buyers.

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One of the biggest improvements for the latest Nissan Juke over its predecessor is the driving experience – it’s sharper and more responsive than ever before, with the same underpinnings as the Renault Clio – one of our favourite small cars. Nissan offers the Juke for a competitive price, which only helps its popularity, and it’s fairly well-equipped. All models get LED headlights, cruise control, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity, but it’s worth paying a little extra and springing for mid-range Acenta to get the eight-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The facelifted model gets even more tech as standard compared to before, along with a sporty N-Sport trim level and bold colour options to help it stand out.

BMW 1 Series hatchback review

BMW 1 Series hatchback
Carbuyer rating

4.2 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 14,190

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After the undeniable sales success of SUVs in recent times, it’s almost strange to see a couple of premium hatchbacks in this list, but the BMW 1 Series has proven a strong seller so far in 2024. The 1 Series holds plenty of badge appeal and offers a high-quality interior, the promise of great driving dynamics and improved practicality over the old model.

This time around, the BMW 1 Series caused some controversy among enthusiasts, changing from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive. There was a fear that this could make it less satisfying in the handling department, but it also meant BMW could free up more boot and rear passenger space. The great news is that the latest 1 Series actually feels brilliant to drive regardless, and might even be more suited to the average driver than before. It still offers a range of punchy petrol or diesel engines and slick gearboxes, and its interior is well built, well equipped and the infotainment is more advanced than ever. A facelift for the BMW 1 Series has just been unveiled, helping to rejuvenate the model and attract even more buyers.

MG HS SUV review

MG HS SUV
Carbuyer rating

3.5 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 14,161

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The MG HS didn’t appear in the best-selling cars list for 2023 overall, but it’s currently the eighth best-selling car of 2024. MG is a brand known for its great value for money, and clearly this is resonating with buyers in the market for an affordable family SUV who have gone for the HS.

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Admittedly, the MG HS doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to the mid-size SUV formula, and although its petrol engines are fairly thirsty and simple, there is a plug-in hybrid version that does a better job in this respect. However, the MG HS’s appeal really lies in its impressively generous amount of standard kit for the price. All cars get a 10.1-inch infotainment screen with sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, folding door mirrors, a rear-view camera and parking sensors, while Trophy models add niceties such as leather heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and an upgraded stereo for a little extra.

Volkswagen T-Roc SUV review

Volkswagen T-Roc SUV
Carbuyer rating

3.8 out of 5

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UK sales year-to-date: 13,323

The Volkswagen T-Roc is proving the best-selling of the brand’s wide spectrum of SUVs, and it’s currently the ninth best-selling car of 2024. While it might not be such a well-established household name, it shares lots with the iconic Volkswagen Golf which also features on this list, but adds a higher ride, slightly more rugged looks and increased practicality – all reasons for it to sell well. 

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We think the Volkswagen T-Roc is good to drive, with eager steering, good levels of grip and little body lean despite its SUV stance. It offers a great all-round balance of comfort and driveability, which will keep a wide variety of buyers happy. It’s got a fairly spacious interior and good-sized boot, and its raised ride makes it even easier to get in and out of than a Golf, and we liked the many clever storage options dotted around the cabin.

Vauxhall Corsa review – the best Corsa yet

Vauxhall Corsa facelift
Carbuyer rating

4.1 out of 5

Read full review

UK sales year-to-date: 12,925

After somewhat of a hiatus from the top 10 best seller’s list despite strong sales in 2023, the Vauxhall Corsa is now back, having stolen the 10th spot from the outgoing MINI hatchback, which has been replaced by the MINI Cooper

It’s no real surprise the Vauxhall Corsa is a hit with buyers – it’s a household name that’s been around for decades now, and the most recent iteration is the best model yet. It’s the first Corsa to be offered with petrol, mild-hybrid petrol, fully electric and formerly diesel engine options, so the brand has covered many bases for the modern car buying public – in any guise the Corsa is very frugal on fuel, which makes it a hit. 

The latest Corsa is more sophisticated than ever on the inside, too. Even though it’s a humble supermini, it gets a 10-inch infotainment display with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital instrument cluster and a rear-view camera as standard, which makes it leaps and bounds more advanced than its predecessor.

Want to know what our favourite new cars are? Check out the winners of our 2024 Carbuyer Best Car Awards

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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