Best selling cars in the UK 2021

We run down the top ten most popular cars in the UK, both new and used, and track the shift from traditional fuels to electric power

Simon Ostler
Jan 10, 2022
Vauxhall Corsa front

Do you live your life at the sharp end of current trends? If you wear the latest fashion and use the most cutting edge phone, why not drive one of the most popular cars, too?

If you're looking for a new car, and you want to make sure you're driving something that's up to date and in vogue, this list of the best-selling cars in the UK will be a good place to start scoping out potential ideas.

The best thing about this top 10 list is the variety of cars that are on it. You could go for the most popular car of 2021 - the Vauxhall Corsa - or you could also go for something bigger like the Nissan Qashqai, which finished as the most popular SUV of the year, and the seventh best-selling car of 2021 overall.

Depending on how relevant you're looking to be, you might be more interested in which cars are the hot topic right now, in which case it was the luxurious and outrageously fast Tesla Model 3 that proved to be the most popular model in December.

The best-selling cars in December 2021

Now, you might be wondering how you're going to be able to afford to buy the very latest cars. Well, there is the option of purchasing a used version of the exact same car that is being sold right now, so you'll be hitting the same trend at a much lower price.

Used car finance can be a great way to make your next car purchase more affordable, you can read about the finer details in our expert guides, but essentially you'll be able to split the cost of the car over a period of up to five years with a series of smaller monthly payments. You won't own the car while you're paying for it, but you'll at least be able to drive it.

The best news is that BuyaCar is here to do all of the hard work for you. All you need to do is pick your favourite car, and we'll help you to complete your finance application. We'll also arrange delivery of the car right to your door, so you don't even need to leave the house.

The most popular cars of 2021 are listed below, so you can get straight on and find the one that appeals to you, and it won't be long until you're hitting the road in your fashionable new car.

The most popular cars of 2021

1. Vauxhall Corsa

Used 2021 deals from £13,000
Monthly finance from £206*

The Vauxhall Corsa is extremely popular, and it's quite easy to see why. Aside from its modern looks the Corsa is affordable with PCP finance, comfortable and well equipped inside, and powered by strong and economical engines.

It's a relatively practical small car, with a good amount of boot space and five doors, which even makes it usable as a family car. The Corsa has always appealed to a younger audience, and this latest version looks to be expanding on that fact by outselling even its closest rivals by a wide margin.

2. Tesla Model 3

Used 2021 deals from £38,000
Monthly finance from £540*

As electric cars go, it's hard to find anything that is as capable as the Tesla Model 3. It has a battery range of well over 300 miles in 'Long Range' spec, which is still head and shoulders above the competition almost five years after it was first launched.

It's not cheap, but it's cheaper than the similarly impressive Tesla Model S, so the Model 3 has proven to be the most popular choice for anyone looking for the best electric car at a semi-reasonable price.

3. Mini Hatchback

Used 2021 deals from £18,999
Monthly finance from £280*

It's never a surprise to find that the Mini Hatchback is still a hugely popular car. We just can't turn away from the style and charisma that oozes from every surface. After a controversial start to life, the new Mini has long since found acceptance from the British public.

This latest version of the Mini first launched in 2014, but two updates in the meantime have kept it feeling fresh, while the driving experience remains sharp and exciting. The introduction of the new Mini Electric in 2020 has also helped to broaden the Mini's appeal - it finished 2021 as the seventh most popular electric car in Britain.

4. Mercedes A-Class

Used 2021 deals from £24,999
Monthly finance from £323*

The fact the Mercedes A-Class is so high on this list is no great surprise. It's the most affordable Mercedes on the market, and there are plenty of buyers clamouring to get their hands on a steering wheel bearing the famous three-pointed star logo.

Alongside the Volkswagen Golf, the A-Class is slightly more expensive as a new car, but it does come equipped with the acclaimed MBUX media system featuring all of the latest tech including intelligent voice control.

5. Volkswagen Polo

Used 2021 deals from £16,388
Monthly finance from £239*

Alongside the Golf, the Volkswagen Polo is similarly impressive. Considering its position as a rival to the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta, the Polo has far more space inside - it's almost as big as the Golf.

But despite the extra space and better feeling of quality, the Polo still costs the same as a Corsa, so this might be the sweet spot between the smaller supermini and spending more on a larger hatchback.

6. Volkswagen Golf

Used 2021 deals from £21,499
Monthly finance from £306*

If the Corsa is just a bit too small for you, then the Volkswagen Golf is likely to be a better option. The Golf has proven immensely popular throughout its existence, but this latest version of VW's iconic family hatchback has struck a chord with buyers.

It might not be as spacious as some rivals, but the range of interior tech and engines available means there is most likely a Golf out there to suit you. The Golf has always been well built, too, so you can expect a classy and composed experience behind the wheel.

7. Nissan Qashqai

Used 2021 deals from £22,699
Monthly finance from £315*

The Nissan Qashqai was the first family SUV to really break into the mainstream. It has been such a popular car over the past decade, and it's incredibly easy to see why. This latest version is bang up to date, having gone on sale earlier this year, so drivers looking to stay ahead of the curve will be interested.

Despite its size, the Qashqai feels easy to drive thanks to the high driving position, while there is plenty of space inside for a family. Boot space is slightly better here than in the Kia Sportage, but as a newer car, it is more expensive for now.

8. Ford Puma

Used 2021 deals from £22,388
Monthly finance from £323*

Among the huge variety of SUVs available on the market today, the Ford Puma has proven one of the most popular in 2021. It's been around for a couple of years now following the resurrection of the Puma name, and it has announced itself as a capable competitor to the likes of the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

Along with its bold styling and tidy interior, the Puma is also comfortable, good to drive, and powered by the same strong engines that have graced the likes of the Fiesta and Ford Focus.

9. Kia Sportage

Used 2021 deals from £20,950
Monthly finance from £308*

Continuing the SUV focus is the Kia Sportage, another model soon to be replaced with an updated version, but one that still remains incredibly popular even five years into its life cycle.

The Sportage is a perfect family car for drivers who need the space, but don't want to drive something massive. It feels no bigger than a VW Golf from behind the wheel, while that raised driving position helps to give you confidence on roads of all sizes.

10. Toyota Yaris

Used 2021 deals from £19,499
Monthly finance from £282*

Closing off the top 10 most popular cars is the Toyota Yaris. It's small, relatively affordable and effortlessly stylish. With this latest version, the Yaris has finally managed to cast off any remnants of its frumpy and uncool past.

With striking new looks and an up to date hybrid engine under the bonnet, the Yaris is perfectly equipped to excel in 2021. It's also well equipped to make your life easier, with the likes of a reversing camera and rain-sensing windscreen wipers available as standard on all models. 

Most popular cars by fuel

While electric cars might not be leading the way in terms of overall sales, there is no doubt their popularity is increasing. As it stands in 2021, the number of electric cars sold has almost doubled compared to the same point last year, and it looks likely that there will be more new electric cars hitting the road this year than in the entirety of the last decade. So if you're looking to get ahead of the curve and join the new wave of electric car drivers, you can check out a range of affordable used electric cars available here on BuyaCar.

This year has seen substantial growth in hybrid and plug-in hybrid car sales, too. If you're keen to be proactive and get on with reducing your carbon footprint, a hybrid car might be a good place to start if you don't yet have the capability to run an electric car day to day. The BMW 330e was the most popular plug-in hybrid car of 2021.

Any fans of diesel meanwhile might want to look away now, however, because diesel car sales continue to fall on a monthly basis - to the point where they were the least popular type of car in September, even below hybrid and electric cars.

Overall diesel sales in 2016 reached 1.2 million, accounting for almost half of all new cars sold in the UK. But with diesel emissions coming under greater scrutiny, and the threat of diesel surcharges and taxes growing, demand has decreased dramatically. In 2018 new diesel car registrations had dropped to 750,165 and made up just 32% of the overall market. By the end of 2019, the proportion of new cars that are powered by diesel had fallen to just 22.7%, and that trend shows no sign of abating as diesel cars amounted to only 16% of the market by the end of 2020. At the close of 2021 diesel sales had dropped to just 8.2% of the overall market share.

Meanwhile, petrol cars now account for fewer than half the UK's new car sales in 2021 up to this point. The trend away from traditionally fuelled cars is becoming clearer, but it will be a while yet before the supremacy of petrol cars is overthrown entirely - in the eyes of many drivers, there is still no substitute for the security and convenience that comes with petrol - even if electric car drivers might have enjoyed skipping the queues during the recent fuel crisis.

Most popular used cars

The latest SMMT used car sales figures show that the Ford Fiesta remained the most popular car on the used market for the second quarter of 2021, with 94,206 Fiestas changing hands. It's a long way ahead of the next most popular model, the Vauxhall Corsa, which saw 73,366 transactions.

In total, 2,167,504 used cars found new homes over the course of April to June 2021, which is a record for the second quarter of the year. Ignoring the 2020 slump for a moment, Q2 2021 saw used car transactions grow 6.6% on the pre-pandemic levels of 2019. All three months saw growth, with April 5% on 2019, May up 9.9% and June up 4.6%.

Despite a very active three months of trading, the 2021 year to date figures are still 200,000 down on 2019 at the half way stage, but it will be interesting to see if this post-lockdown clamour for cars continues as the year closes out.

Most popular used cars in Q2 2021


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