Sunday, December 20, 2009

UK : Top 10 best-selling cars of 2009

The Car Enthusiast  |  Sat 19 Dec 01:36 SGT

It's as simple as it sounds: here are the ten cars we bought most of in 2009.

Let's start with the bad news then. We've bought far fewer cars this year than we did in 2008, with SMMT registration figures showing a year-to-date drop of 12.3% as of October 2009. However, signs are positive, because October's figure actually showed a 31.6 percent rise in new car sales compared with September - the biggest gain of the whole year. The scrap scheme continues to contribute to bolstering new car sales, but with that due to end at the start of next year, and VAT to go back up to 17.5& , only a fool would predict a business-as-usual 2010 for makers; it's going to be a tough old year.

However, we're still buying new cars - and we're buying the same ones too. As this top ten best sellers 2009 list shows, the old ones are the best.

1.  Ford Fiesta
Ford Fiesta

The car that we feel should have won Car of the Year 2008 (it lost out to the Vauxhall Insignia) sits pretty at the top of the sales chart for 2009. And it sits there by some margin too - it's sold more than the bottom three cars in this list combined. Like the Focus, incremental price increases spread across this year have made the Fiesta look expensive compared to some superminis, yet clearly Ford knows that the great British public are willing to pay a premium for the best product. The Fiesta is that. A worthy champion of 2009.

2.  Ford Focus
Ford Focus

Even though the current Ford Focus was accused of not having the impact of its innovative predecessor when it was launched, the second-generation model has proved a sales winner. It's also been subject to some pretty hefty price increases this year - up to £2,000 on some models - yet still outsells the Vauxhall Astra by tens of thousands. The new Astra's appearance will redress the balance a little, but Ford's hatch is the undisputed sales king. Why? Well, there's not a massive amount between them, but the Ford edges the Vauxhall in every important area. That could change, though, when we pit the Ford against the latest Astra. Look out for that one...

3.  Vauxhall Corsa
Vauxhall Corsa

The supermini is popular because of its good value and massive model range, from the 1.0-litre petrol model, through the 70.6mpg 1.3-litre ecoFlex, to the turbocharged VXR hot hatch. At three years old it's about midway through its lifecycle now, but sales show no signs of abating - almost twice as many Corsas leave Vauxhall showrooms as do Peugeot 207s.

4.  Vauxhall Astra
Vauxall Astra

The new Astra hit showrooms on December 11th, which means that Vauxhall is currently enticing buyers with some seriously good deals to shift the outgoing model. Nonetheless, the hatch's fourth place spot is no artificial spike - it's a mainstay in the top five sellers list, and has been since its launch some five years ago. The newcomer will no doubt fill its forebear's shoes in the top five too - great news for British Vauxhall workers, who'll build the car after winning the contract among stiff competition from GM factories across Europe.

5.  VW Golf
VW Golf

The launch of the Mk VI Golf has injected fresh life into Volkswagen's bread and butter hatchback, although the car has hovered around mid-table for years now. It's still some way from usurping the Vauxhall Astra - and that's going to get even harder with the launch of the new Griffin - but much like the MINI, the Golf sells well despite being notably more expensive than the competition. Nothing in the segment has the VW's quality or refinement, and that's something buyers are evidently willing to pay a premium for.

6.  Peugeot 207
Peugeot 207

Peugeot's history is punctuated by some of the most exciting small cars ever made, but of late it has focused on cars that cosset rather than excite. The brand can no longer claim to be the dynamic force it once was, and the 207 is seen as something of an also-ran in the supermini segment by picky motoring hacks (like us) - but it's still a good-looking, reasonably roomy and comfy car. Keen pricing and good running costs have ensured that buyers continue to flock to the showroom with the lion on it.  

7.  MINI

It's difficult to pin down the reasons for MINI's resounding success since the brand was re-launched under BMW stewardship in 2001. Despite having polarising looks, being eye-wateringly expensive, quite impractical, not very well equipped and bought up in fleets by estate agents and 'no win no fee' accident solicitors, they still fly out of showrooms like age-reversing cream. It's probably because they drive so well and, despite their popularity, are as cool now as they were at the start of the decade.

8.  BMW 3 Series
BMW 3 Series

The 3 Series just does everything right, which is probably why we've mentioned it twice on this list. Despite being significantly more expensive than the two very good cars following it - and not offering either's practical hatchback option - we just can't resist our favourite premium executive here in the UK. Maybe it's all the quality and prestige it offers? Or its beautifully balanced rear-wheel drive handling? Or possibly that even the least powerful versions make their drivers feel like the fastest thing on the road (or act that way, at least)?

9.  Vauxhall Insignia
Vauxhall Insignia

Vauxhall pinned a lot on the Insignia. It is to the maker what the last-generation 7 Series was to BMW: an era-defining, make-or-break car that set the agenda for the next generation of products. Thankfully it seems to be working, because the Insignia is only just losing out to the BMW 3 Series in terms of outright sales - only 272 cars separate them, in fact (as of end of October 2009). It's no surprise really - the Griffin saloon is in a different league to the Vectra it replaced. But you knew that - we've said it enough times already.

10.  Ford Mondeo
Ford Mondeo

When the phrase 'Mondeo Man' was erroneously attributed to Tony Blair (he didn't actually say that) it instantly hamstrung Ford's saloon; no matter how good the car is, it now has a negative connotation of 'commonness', despite being less common than the BMW 3 Series that has somehow remained 'premium'. Ignore class connotations though, and the Mondeo is an absolute gem of a car: comfortable, dynamic and spacious. It's basically everything Mondeo Man could ever need.