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The UK’s best-selling cars in May

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·5-min read

The coronavirus pandemic has had a drastic effect on the car industry. With dealerships shut and only allowed to sell cars through online ‘click and collect’ schemes, just 20,000 new cars were registered in May – down 89 per cent compared with the same month last year.

However, most manufacturers worked with dealers to come up with efficient ways to continue to sell cars despite many consumers holding back from big purchases. The 10 best-selling cars last month make for interesting reading, then, with some familiar names and some surprising ones too.

Tesla Model 3 – 852

Tesla Model 3

Tesla’s direct sales model likely helped it keep some sales going through, topping the sales charts for the second month in a row.

The American EV manufacturer set up a contactless test drive scheme to encourage potential buyers to retail locations, with cars disinfected before arrival, unlocked by staff using the Tesla app, and having a tutorial about the car displayed on its infotainment screen.

Vauxhall Corsa – 790

Vauxhall Corsa

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that buyers are looking for more used and less expensive new cars since the pandemic hit, so it’s no surprise to see the new Vauxhall Corsa high up this list.

The supermini was recently updated with more on-board technology and more efficient engines, making an already popular car even more appealing.

Ford Fiesta – 760

Ford Fiesta ST

Britain’s best-selling car unsurprisingly did well last month, hot on the heels of its rival. Long considered the leader in its class, the Fiesta represents excellent value for money while also feeling well built and great to drive. It’s a no brainer.

Ford has also been encouraging customers to dealers with an enticing finance offer that effectively allows buyers not to pay anything for the first six months.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class – 552

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Another familiar name for the best-sellers list, the A-Class has proved a huge hit for Mercedes as it brings the price of entry to this premium marque to more affordable levels.

While its predecessors were of questionable quality, the latest generation model is fantastic, with smart looks and a high-tech interior making its popularity no surprise.

Ford Focus – 502

Ford Focus ST

Once the darling of the family car market, the Focus has seen diminishing market share as crossovers and SUVs gained popularity.

However, this brilliant hatchback has continued to sell well where rivals have disappeared, and in this time of uncertainty it’s clear buyers are willing to put faith in this familiar nameplate.

Volvo XC40 – 464

Volvo XC40

Here’s another model that’s proving that when premium marques lower the cost of entry without skimping on quality, there are sales to be had. Selling fewer than 500 cars wouldn’t normally be cause for celebration, but the fact that the Volvo XC40 is mixing with family cars and superminis in this list demonstrates its appeal.

With prices starting at £25,295, it’s about £10,000 less expensive than the next ‘cheapest’ Volvo, the V60.

BMW 1 Series – 331

BMW 1 Series

It’s starting to get repetitive – here’s another premium brand’s entry-level model. The 1 Series has proved a huge hit for BMW, despite many questioning its styling direction with the latest generation and decrying its switch from rear-wheel-drive.

Buyers love it, though, and that badge appeal goes a long way to the 1 Series sneaking onto this list at number seven.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Class – 328

Mercedes-Benz GLC CLass

The fact that the GLC is considered a ‘mid-sized’ SUV shows just how massive this segment has become – both in dimensions and sales figures.

The GLC has grown a loyal customer base thanks to its premium interior, smart looks and being great to drive. It doesn’t stand out in many areas, but therein lies its appeal – it’s simply a good all-rounder.

Ford Kuga – 303

Ford Kuga

The Ford Kuga has been a quiet sales hit for Ford. It’s not a car that will regularly win a group test against its rivals, it’s not particularly sexy and it’s pretty average to drive. But the appeal of the Blue Oval badge as a great value brand appeals to many, and the Kuga regularly makes it into the top 10 sellers list.

It wasn’t updated too long ago either, and existing owners will no doubt be tempted into the better-everywhere new model when it’s time to switch cars, so expect its appeal to only grow, helped further by new plug-in hybrid variants, too.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 290

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Perhaps the most surprising car on this list is the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. This is a fantastic executive saloon that’s always in the best-in-class mix with rivals from Audi and BMW. However, big expensive saloons don’t really sell in big numbers, so its place on this list is merely a quirk of our current situation.

It’s wholly deserving of its time in the limelight though, thanks to its handsome looks and smart interior being perfectly judged for a car in this segment.