For anyone working in a new car dealership, the year has probably been even more of a blur with 1.42 million new cars sold in the first six months.

To provide some context, that’s the best half-year for new car registrations on record. But which cars have Brits been buying the most in 2016?

Before we tell you, it’s worth highlighting a term mentioned a second ago – ‘new car registrations’. These are exactly as you’d guess: the attribution of a newly generated registration number to a specific, previously unregistered car. Yes, quite.

So when a box-fresh Honda Civic rolls out of a factory in Swindon and onto a forecourt in Wolverhampton, it’ll be given a new registration, et voila, that’s another one for the tally.

Note that the car hasn’t actually been sold, therefore it’s wrong to consider new car registrations and new car sales as one and the same.

What actually happens to the car then isn’t reflected in the figures, it could just sit and rot at the dealership until England win at a major international football tournament, it’s not a ‘sale’.

As the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which compiles data on the UK vehicle parc, only releases data on registrations, that’s all we can go off, but these numbers provide a good indicator of what UK motorists have been buying. That or Ford has a ginormous warehouse stacked with millions of Fiestas (oops, spoilers!).


10) Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class

Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class (22,069 registrations) in tenth is the only executive car in the list, which is a victory for it over rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE.

9) Mokka

Vauxhall is the only car maker with three models in the top ten and ninth place Mokka (22,462) SUV is proving a decent money-spinner ahead of the soft-roader’s mid-life refresh and renaming (it’ll soon be known as ‘Mokka X’) later this year.

8) Mini Hatch

Eighth for us is the mighty Mini Hatch (24,293). The third generation model under BMW ownership is undeniably the finest iteration yet, not to mention the largest size-wise too.

7) Volkswagen Polo

The eternal popularity of the Volkswagen Polo (28,000) is reflected in its appearance at number seven.

It has maintained a no-nonsense exterior ever since it first appeared in 1975 and every generation boasts an unquestionable sophistication. Big enough to fetch a weekly shop with the kids but compact enough to slip into tight city parking spots, the Polo is just perfect.

6)  Vauxhall Astra

The Vauxhall Astra (28,406) was named 2016 European Car of the Year ahead of the brilliant Volvo XC90 and Mazda MX-5 earlier this year. A sizable chunk of the British public clearly agrees, with the seventh generation hatchback landing in sixth place.

5) Qashqai

Even the top cheeses at Nissan were surprised when the Qashqai (33,656) outstripped sales expectations several times over, and the second gen model continues to sell by the thousand every month.

4) Golf

Whatever the Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal did to Volkswagen’s reputation, it hasn’t done much to rattle Golf sales with 37,577 of the dependable hatchbacks  registered in the first half of 2016.

3) Ford Focus

However, VW will still be a bit miffed that it can’t quite catch the Ford Focus (38,715), the Golf’s eternal nemesis and the UK’s best-selling car for many years before it was debunked by its little brother – the Fiesta.

Both the Golf and Focus combine excellent practicality, smart styling and attractive running costs to the point that you’d be better tossing a coin to choose one over the other.

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So we’re down to the final two and will it be, the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta that claims the UK top spot?

Well, we’ve spoiled the ending twice so far so if you haven’t worked it out….  it’s the Fiesta!

The Corsa wasn’t even close either. The Fiesta registered 68,833 units between January and the end of June, over 26,000 more than the Corsa’s 42,356.

Both are excellent runarounds, keenly priced, great looking, and perfectly proportioned for British roads to complete a supermarket blitz or a swift motorway run.

However, the Fiesta is the more refined of the two, with more satisfying handling and personality in the styling department.

So there you have it. Will the Fiesta still be top when the rest of 2016’s figures are released? Probably, it has been Britain’s best-selling car for the past few years. But that doesn’t mean you should check back in six months’ time just to make sure anyway…

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