The most popular car brands in 2021 revealed

The most popular car brands in 2021 revealed

Here are the car firms that proved especially popular last year

It’s safe to say that 2021 was another turbulent year for the car world, with the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic prohibiting many companies from selling as many cars as they’d like. 

That said, there were some manufacturers that succeeded more than most, especially those that weren’t so badly hit by parts shortages – particularly those based in Asia. 

But what were the best-selling car brands in the UK last year? Here’s a guide to the top 10. 

1. Volkswagen – 147,826 registered

Despite Volkswagen’s sales dipping slightly in 2021, it actually managed to become the UK’s most popular car firm last year – the first time it’s ever done that. With both the Polo and Golf in the list of best-sellers, these models have been key to its success. 

With a range of slightly more upmarket cars than mainstream rivals, and an increasing choice of electric models for customers to choose, Volkswagen’s position as one of the UK’s biggest car firms doesn’t look to be changing any time soon.

Enquire on a new Volkswagen

2. Audi – 117,953 registered

We’re now in a day and age where premium car makers sell far more cars than many mainstream firms, and top of them all for sales is Audi. Selling just shy of 120,000 cars in 2021, it registered more cars in Britain than Citroen, Honda, Mazda and Renault combined. 

Despite having no individual model in the list of top-selling individual cars, the more compact A3 remains a very popular choice, while the brand’s extensive range of SUVs appeals to buyers too. Uptake is also proving strong for its EVs – the e-tron and Q4 e-tron. 

Enquire on a new Audi

3. BMW – 116,577 registered

Just behind Audi in terms of sales was BMW, though considering it was still the third biggest car firm in the UK, it’s still an impressive effort. The German firm’s more affordable 1 Series remains a popular choice, while the sheer range of cars on offer means there’s something to suit most. 

BMW’s plug-in hybrids are also proving very popular with buyers, particularly the 330e, which was by far the best-selling PHEV in the UK. With the brand launching a range of new EVs in 2022 – such as the i4 and iX – its success is unlikely to change.

Enquire on a new BMW

4. Ford – 116,305 registered

Ford was hit more than most by the parts shortages, which really affected its car production in 2021, and meant that both the Fiesta and Focus were absent from the list of best-selling cars. It meant Ford fell from first to fourth in the manufacturer tables. 

The brand is hoping that will change in 2022, as it launches facelifted versions of both the Fiesta and Focus, while the brand’s Puma (the eighth best-selling car in 2021) is likely to continue being a huge hit with buyers.

Enquire on a new Ford

5. Toyota – 100,895 registered

With Toyota having a predominantly electrified line-up of cars, it has been well-placed to deal with increasing uptake for hybrid models. In fact, Toyota increased its sales by almost 10 per cent in 2021, smashing through the 100,000 registrations barrier. 

The new Yaris supermini accounted for more than a quarter of its sales, while the British-built Corolla also continues to be very popular, especially with the fleet market. The sporty, award-winning GR Yaris also helped to open Toyota up to a new type of customer last year.

Enquire on a new Toyota

6. Mercedes-Benz – 97,945 registered

Mercedes was another brand that saw sales hit by the pandemic, with its UK registrations down 12 per cent in 2021. That said, with just shy of 100,000 vehicles registered, its figures are still commendable – not least those of the compact A-Class, which accounted for a third of entire registrations. 

With the brand’s next-generation C-Class recently reaching dealers, providing Mercedes can build as many cars as it would like, greater things are likely in store.

Enquire on a new Mercedes-Benz

7. Vauxhall – 91,452 registered

Vauxhall’s sales have dipped slightly in recent years, as demand for its once-best-selling models like the Astra and Insignia have faded over the years. That said, the brand’s Corsa supermini has had a terrific year, becoming the UK’s best-selling car, with more than 40,000 examples registered. 

This year Vauxhall is also introducing a next-generation Astra, which should help to build the brand’s sales, while its Crossland, Mokka and Grandland SUVs all remain great choices.

Enquire on a new Vauxhall

8. Kia – 90,817 registered

Kia had a fantastic year in 2021, with sales growing by a significant 29 per cent. The South Korean manufacturer’s extensive range – from the affordable Picanto through to seven-seat Sorento – offers plenty of choice, while its seven-year warranty continues to draw customers in. 

Kia’s best-sellers were the Sportage, which is due to be replaced by a next-generation model imminently, and also the Niro. The latter is available with an all-electric powertrain, which helps to take up the bulk of this model’s sales.

Enquire on a new Kia

9. Hyundai – 69,680 registered

Like sibling brand Kia, Hyundai had a strong 2021, with its sales soaring by 47 per cent, and overtaking many other manufacturers. The firm is now one of the most exciting around, with a unique approach to styling and broad range of models – last year saw the brand launch a hot hatch, family SUV and radical new EV, among other things. 

While it’s the Tucson that’s Hyundai’s best-seller, the recent introduction of the cool electric IONIQ 5 has really helped to generate a buzz around the marque.

Enquire on a new Hyundai

10. Nissan – 68,494 registered

Last but not least is Nissan, which rounds off the top 10 with just shy of 70,000 cars registered. Despite having a far slimmer range than many other brands on this list, its models are still a big hit with buyers. 

The Qashqai continues to be Nissan’s biggest seller, and also the most popular car in the hugely lucrative SUV market, while demand for the Juke and Leaf EV also remain strong. Given all these models are produced at the brand’s factory in Sunderland, it bodes well for the UK automotive manufacturing industry.

Enquire on a new Nissan

Join the newsletter

Get the latest news, reviews and guides every week. Update your preferences at any time.