June 2021 new car sales revealed: Who were the winners and losers?

Ongoing computer chip shortages have stunted growth in the new car market this month, but which cars were the most popular among UK buyers? We have the answer...


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What Car? team

UK's best-selling new car

The number of new cars sold in the UK in June was 28% higher than the same month in 2020, when dealerships were first allowed to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

In total, 186,128 new cars left showrooms last month, with the majority joining fleets and businesses to be used as company cars. Around 48% of sales went to private buyers. Although the market is recovering, growth has been stunted by the continuing shortage of semiconductor chips, which is leading to longer wait times for buyers. Industry bosses estimate that as many as 9000 sales were lost in the second quarter of this year due to the shortage. 

Of the cars sold, most (59%) were powered by petrol (including petrol mild hybrids) while fewer than one-in-ten were powered by diesel. In fact, diesel car sales across the first six months of 2021 are down by almost 22% compared with 2020. Sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars continue to grow, with sales of purely electric cars passing 19,800 in June. That means one-in-ten new cars sold last month was an electric car.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “With the final phases of the UK’s vaccine rollout well underway and confidence increasing, the automotive sector is now battling against a ‘long Covid’ of vehicle supply challenges. The semiconductor shortages arising from Covid-constrained output globally are affecting vehicle production, disrupting supply on certain models and restricting the automotive recovery."

So, which were the most popular models in June? Below we count down the top 10.

10

Kia Sportage

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£22,340

RRP from £23,810 to £34,710

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Kia's family SUV represents decent value for money, as long as you stick to the lower trim levels, which still come well equipped. However, plenty of rival models are better to drive, and an all-new Sportage is due later this year – and that's likely to hurt resale values of today's car.

June sales 2947

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Pros

  • Great value – in the right spec
  • Good resale values
  • Decent rear seat space and boot

Cons

  • Diesel engines are very noisy
  • Lumpy ride
  • No AEB on the most recommendable versions
9

BMW 3 Series

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£31,853

RRP from £32,595 to £50,900

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BMW's executive saloon is the best car of its kind, with a high-quality interior, an engaging driving style and the best infotainment system in the business. We think it makes especially good sense in plug-in hybrid 330e form, where the 3 Series can travel for around 30 miles without using any fuel.

June sales 3048

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Pros

  • Brilliant fun to drive
  • Class-leading infotainment system
  • Great range of engines

Cons

  • Ride is rather firm – particularly in M Sport versions
  • Not as well finished inside as an Audi A4
  • Adjustable lumbar support costs extra
8

Mini hatchback

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£15,971

RRP from £16,605 to £35,050

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The Mini is a hugely desirable small car that has plenty of substance to match its style. We’d recommend Exclusive trim to make the most of the Mini’s biggest strength: its well-appointed interior. Meanwhile, the engine that suits the car best is the turbocharged 1.5-litre that you get with the Cooper model.

June sales 3506

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Pros

  • The classiest small car interior
  • Excellent infotainment system
  • Strong resale values

Cons

  • Ride is a bit firm
  • Not as safe as rivals
  • Only has two rear seats
7

Toyota Yaris

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£18,407

RRP from £20,210 to £24,420

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Our True MPG test proves that the latest Yaris hybrid has a remarkable ability to sip fuel gently; in town, it achieved 80mpg, which is almost double the economy of conventionally powered small hatchbacks. It should also be very reliable and hold its value well. Just bear in mind that the ride is quite firm and the rear seats are cramped.

June sales 3546

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Pros

  • Excellent real-world fuel economy
  • Toyota's reliability record
  • Slow predicted depreciation

Cons

  • Below-par infotainment system
  • Firm ride – especially on models with 17in alloys
  • Cramped in the back
6

Volkswagen Polo

Few small car rivals can match the Polo for sheer quality; combine that with its supple suspension and quiet driving manners and it's easy to see why it consistently sells in big numbers.

June sales 3752

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Pros

  • Comfortable ride
  • Generous interior space
  • Quiet on the move

Cons

  • Ford Fiesta is more fun to drive
  • Gutless entry-level petrol
  • Standard safety kit could be better
5

Ford Fiesta

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£15,825

RRP from £16,645 to £27,080

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The Ford Fiesta was Britain's best-selling new car in 2020, but has fallen down the list so far in 2021. Still, there are good reasons why it has traditionally been a strong seller, it's a cracking small hatchback that's superb to drive and won't cost you much to run.

June sales 3811

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Pros

  • Brilliant to drive
  • Punchy Ecoboost engines, especially the Hybrid versions
  • Good fuel economy and CO2 emissions

Cons

  • Some rivals are better value
  • Decent but not class-leading practicality
  • Important safety kit not standard
4

Vauxhall Corsa

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£16,050

RRP from £17,015 to £34,095

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There are better all-rounders in the small car market, but it's still easy to see the appeal of the Vauxhall Corsa: it's cheap to run and well equipped, and you can choose from a wide variety of power options (including a fully electric version).

June sales 4375

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Pros

  • Well equipped
  • Decent boot
  • Efficient engines

Cons

  • Laggy and confusing infotainment system
  • Below-par safety rating
  • Poor resale values
3

Ford Puma

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£20,683

RRP from £22,045 to £29,460

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This small SUV is a former What Car? Car of the Year and remains the best small SUV you can buy. Why? Well, in addition to having enough space for your family and being great to drive, the Ford Puma can also help to reduce your fuel bills thanks to its clever mild hybrid technology.

June sales 4477

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Pros

  • Great fun to drive
  • Remarkable blend of performance and fuel economy
  • Big and cleverly designed boot

Cons

  • Rear space is adequate rather than outstanding
  • Visibility could be better
  • Volkswagen T-Roc is more comfortable and quieter
2

Volkswagen Golf

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£22,264

RRP from £23,510 to £40,130

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The latest Volkswagen Golf is comfortable, reasonably spacious and very quiet. Only its horribly fiddly climate controls and infotainment system let the side down. Our favourite version teams the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine with entry-level Life trim.

June sales 4629

 

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Pros

  • Exceedingly comfortable ride with adaptive suspension
  • Tidy handling
  • Strong and frugal 1.5 TSI 150 engine

Cons

  • Frustratingly fiddly infotainment system is full of software bugs
  • Interior quality could be better
  • There are more spacious rivals
1

Tesla Model 3

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£40,990

RRP from £40,990 to £59,990

To see the Tesla Model 3 take the top spot this month is a surprise, but it shows just how much most other car makers are struggling thanks to the ongoing semiconductor chip shortage. Still, there's plenty to like about the Model 3, from its long range to its luxurious interior, and adding in Tesla's wonderful Supercharger fast charging network too. Little wonder that the Model 3 is our reigning Large Electric Car of the Year.

June sales 5468

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Pros

  • Savage acceleration
  • Long range between charges
  • Surprisingly practical
  • Fast charging via Tesla's prolific Supercharger network

Cons

  • Build quality could be better
  • Handling not as entertaining as petrol rivals
  • Some may find the ride a touch firm
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