While March and September are usually pretty spectacular months for new car registrations, the mad scramble by manufacturers to register as many new cars as possible on the latest registration number can sometimes lead to a few anomalies in the ‘best sellers’ list.
You can often get a more representative idea of what the motoring public is buying by looking at the months between number-plate changes. The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), tell us exactly which cars won buyers over in October 2016.
A total of 180,168 new cars were registered in October, far fewer than in September, of course, but an increase of 1.4% over the same month last year. This indicates the UK car market is in good health, which in itself is a positive sign of a favourable UK economy.
This growth compared to last year’s figures has been largely propelled by the fleet market, with hire-car companies and corporate clients responsible for 4.2% more car registrations in October than September. Meanwhile, 1.1% fewer private buyers signed up for a new car last month, no doubt reflecting the lack of a new registration number to tempt them.
Cars using alternative fuels continue to grow in popularity, 12.4% up compared to October 2015 and now accounting for 23.3% of all cars registered this year – a cumulative total of 75,987 so far. The year 2016 has seen by far the greatest proportion of alternative-fuelled cars ever registered.
Interestingly, compared to this time last year, we can see a pronounced swing in favour of petrol-engined cars compared to diesel: 4.9% more cars sold in October 2016 were petrols, while 2.4% fewer were diesels. Diesel was still the most popular fuel of the month, with 3,865 more diesels registered in October than petrols, possibly reflecting the high proportion of fleet cars sold. Petrol cars remain better-selling than diesels overall, though, with 1.2% more petrol cars registered so far this year than diesel.
While the list of the top 10 best-selling cars for October comprises mainly the same familiar faces that spearhead it month after month, there are a few absentees after September, while we welcome a few newcomers. Gone are the Mercedes C-Class and MINI Hatchback, both of which which made an appearance last month, but we say hello to the Nissan Juke and Kia Sportage. The Ford Fiesta remains top dog, with the Vauxhall Astra sneaking into second place some way ahead of the Ford Focus.
Read on for our verdicts on the most popular cars on sale in October 2016.
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.
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.
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.
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