Best-selling cars in the UK: January 2024 marks one-millionth electric car sale

The millionth electric car joined UK roads in January, but which models, electric or otherwise, proved to be the most popular among buyers?...

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by
Darren Moss
Published05 February 2024

The one-millionth electric car to be sold in the UK joined the roads in January, helping sales of such vehicles to jump by more than 20% over the same month in 2023.

In total, 142,976 new cars left showrooms in the first month of 2024 – 8.2% more than in January 2023, and bolstered by big orders from company car fleets. In fact, company cars accounted for 63.2% of the market in January, while sales to private buyers shrank by almost 16% compared with 2023.

Kia Sportage Family SUV of the Year 2024

Official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveal that despite a big jump in electric car sales, petrol was the most popular fuel type in January, accounting for 57.3% of the market. Diesel sales continued to slump to just 6.5% of the total, while sales of plug-in hybrid and regular hybrid cars grew by 8.4% and 13.1% respectively.

Mercedes E-Class E300e PHEV charging socket

Given the continuing trend among UK car buyers to opt for SUVs over other types of car, it comes as no surprise to see that they accounted for six of the top 10 best-selling models in January. But which models found the most favour with buyers? Here, we list the UK's best-selling new cars in January 2024.

Data source: SMMT

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Our pick: 1.6T GDi 157 48V ISG 3 5dr

0-62mph: 9.8 sec
MPG/range: 44.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 146g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 562 litres
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Lower-spec models are great value
  • Smart interior
  • Generous rear leg room and boot space

Weaknesses

  • Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained
  • Rear head room compromised with panoramic roof
  • No clever rear seat functions

The family SUV market is extremely competitive, so a car has to be truly excellent to stand out. The Kia Sportage absolutely is, though – in fact, it's our reigning Family SUV of the Year.

Practicality is a particular strength, with the boot spacious and thoughtfully designed, and the interior offering plenty of leg and head room in both the front and the rear. In addition, the Sportage is plush inside – more so than the Hyundai Tucson which it is closely related.

The entry-level model is very temptingly priced, but upgrading to our recommended 3 trim gives you lots of useful extras, such as heated front seats and keyless start.

Our favourite version Kia Sportage 1.6T GDi 48V ISG 3
List price £32,875
Target price £31,203
Target PCP £376

January sales 4239

Read our Kia Sportage review

Our pick: 1.0 EcoBoost Hybrid mHEV 155 ST-Line 5dr

0-62mph: 8.9 sec
MPG/range: 51.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 456 litres
Insurance group: 14E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

The Ford Puma is a former What Car? Car of the Year, and even though its small SUV crown has now been taken by the excellent Lexus LBX, it remains one of the best cars in its class.

The Puma should certainly put a smile on your face, because it's very agile, especially in ST-Line guise with sports suspension, and has well-weighted, engaging steering.

The interior is well laid out and reasonably plush, although rivals such as the Mini Countryman and Volkswagen T-Roc provide a much more upmarket feel. Also, rear visibility isn’t ideal, and the view out of the front can be limited, depending on your seating position.

The boot is large for the class and has a height-adjustable floor with even more storage underneath. Excellent fuel economy and a low CO2 output also help to make the case for the playful Puma being a sensible buy. 

Our favourite version Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost mHEV 155 ST-Line
List price £27,340
Target price £25,378
Target PCP £258

January sales 4201

Read our Ford Puma review

Our pick: 1.3 DiG-T MH N-Connecta 5dr

0-62mph: 10.2 sec
MPG/range: 44.1mpg
CO2 emissions: 144g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 479 litres
Insurance group: 12E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Lots of standard safety kit
  • Great driving position
  • Smart interior

Weaknesses

  • So-so performance
  • Some rivals are more fun to drive
  • Lacks the seating flexibility of many rivals

For many buyers, the Nissan Qashqai exemplifies the family SUV class. After all, it was the car that first popularised the idea of a tall car without the sky-high running costs of a traditional off-roader. The latest version is a fine all-rounder, combining good practicality with some efficient engine options.

Our preferred choice is the entry-level 1.3-litre petrol, which has mild hybrid technology to help lower your fuel bills.

Meanwhile, there's a good reason why most Qashqai buyers choose N-Connecta trim, because it bundles together lots of desirable kit – including 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry – for a very reasonable price.

Our favourite version Nissan Qashqai 1.3 DiG-T MH N-Connecta
List price £31,890
Target price £28,573
Target PCP £257

January sales 4008

Read our Nissan Qashqai review

Driving
Interior
Practicality
Buying & Owning

Strengths

  • Cheap yet very well equipped
  • Plush interior for the price
  • Good ride and handling balance

Weaknesses

  • Small boot by class standards
  • Coarse engine
  • Laggy infotainment system

This family SUV proves that just because you need a fairly large and spacious car, you don't need to spend a lot of money. In fact, the MG HS undercuts almost all of its direct rivals on price – and that's before you factor in the savings from our free New Car Deals service.

Despite costing less than rivals in the first place, the HS is loaded with kit. Indeed, our favourite SE  models come with keyless entry and start, automatic wipers, adaptive cruise control and lots more besides. And if you want to step up to a range-topping Trophy model, for its dual-zone air conditioning, heated sports seats and powered tailgate, doing so won't cost you a lot more.

There are more practical small SUVs to consider, however, with both the Citroën C5 Aircross and Honda CR-V giving rear-seat passengers more room, and the Kia Sportage offering more boot space.

Our favourite version MG HS 1.5 T-GDi SE
List price £23,995
Target price £23,249
Target PCP £270

January sales 3413

Read our MG HS review

Our pick: 118i [136] M Sport 5dr [Live Cockpit Professional]

0-62mph: 8.9 sec
MPG/range: 47.9mpg
CO2 emissions: 134g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 380 litres
Insurance group: 20E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Superb build quality
  • Sporty handling
  • Class-leading infotainment system

Weaknesses

  • Mercedes A-Class is safer
  • SE trim not that well equipped
  • Road noise at speed

Looking for a family car which feels premium inside? Well, we think the BMW 1 Series has the best interior in the class.

Key to that appeal is BMW's iDrive infotainment system, which offers quick responses, pin-sharp graphics, and can be controlled easily via a rotary knob on the centre console – even when you're on the move.

While there are lots of versions of the 1 Series to choose from, including the BMW M135i hot hatch and the cheaper 128Ti, uit's the entry-level 118i petrol which we think makes the most sense for most buyers. This offers peppy responses, and with 134bhp it performs well for everyday driving.

You get lots of kit as standard in the 1 Series, but it's worth noting that the rival Mercedes A-Class performed better in the adult protection and pedestrian protection tests employed by the safety experts at Euro NCAP.

Our favourite version 118i M Sport
List price £31,585
Target price £29,912
Target PCP £285

January sales 3204

Read our BMW 1 Series review

Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

When it comes to choosing a new car you can really make your own, the Mini hatchback is really in a class of its own, such is the level of personalisation and customisation on offer. It remains among the most stylish cars available at any price, yet has the substance to back it up.

As well as those cheeky looks, we love the interior – which is both classy and well-appointed – although there are more practical cars out there, such as the Audi A1.

Our top choice is the Cooper model in Exclusive trim because it blends a peppy yet frugal engine with a good amount of equipment and technology.

It's worth noting that the current Mini is currently only available from stock, because the all-new version is about to arrive in showrooms.

Read our Mini review

Our pick: 40 TFSI e Sport 5dr S Tronic

0-62mph: 7.6 sec
MPG/range: 256.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 26g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 280 litres
Insurance group: 24E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Sharp handling
  • Excellent driving position
  • Strong and frugal engines, including the excellent plug-in hybrid

Weaknesses

  • Interior quality is good but could be better
  • Fiddly infotainment system
  • Audi's unimpressive reliability record

The Audi A3 is one of our favourite upmarket family cars, and we think in 40 TFSIe guise, it’s one of the best plug-in hybrids on the market. It’s no surprise then, that the A3 frequently makes the list of Britain’s best sellers.

Audi’s family hatchback is better to drive than the Mercedes A-Class and is quieter than the BMW 1 Series. And with physical controls, its tech is easier to use than that of the VW Golf

It’s worth singling out the plug-in hybrid 40 TFSIe because it has a 40-mile all-electric range and attracts appealing low company car tax bills.

Our favourite version 40 TFSIe Sport
List price £36,400
Target price £34,355
Target PCP £402

January sales 2648

Read our Audi A3 review

Our pick: 2.0 TSI 320 R 4Motion 5dr DSG

0-62mph: 4.7 sec
MPG/range: 35.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 178g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 341 litres
Insurance group: 31E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

It's one of the most well-known family cars on the market, but the Golf more than deserves its popularity. For a start, it mixes comfort and practicality very well – it rides around town with similar levels of comfort to the pricier Mercedes A-Class, for example, yet also has space for five carry-on suitcases in its boot.

There's a good choice of Golf engines, including mild and plug-in hybrid options, as well as a diesel for those covering lots of miles, but our top choice is the mid-range 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol, which can get you up to motorway speeds in a swift 8.5sec, yet should also keep your running costs in check.

While the Golf handles well, the Seat Leon is even more of a hoot to drive quickly, while the Ford Focus is slightly quieter at speed.

Our favourite version 1.5 TSI Life
List price £27,555
Target price £26,033
Target PCP £265

January sales 2456

Read our Volkswagen Golf review

Our pick: 1.0 DiG-T 114 N-Connecta 5dr

0-62mph: 10.7 sec
MPG/range: 48.7mpg
CO2 emissions: 133g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 422 litres
Insurance group: 13E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Smart interior
  • Good safety rating
  • Lots of toys on our recommended trim

Weaknesses

  • Choppy ride
  • So-so infotainment system
  • Hybrid isn't as fuel efficient as a Toyota Yaris Cross

With a starting price of just over £22,000  (and a lot less if you use our New Car Deals service), it’s hard to think of a more striking car that’ll cost you less. It doesn’t feel cut-price inside, either, with an interior that feels almost as upmarket as the likes of the Audi Q2.

It’s pretty much class-average when it comes to interior space, but at least the boot is a decent size, even if the hybrid model loses room due to the location of the car’s batteries. Entry-level models are fairly spartan, but our favourite trim, N-Connecta, sees the addition of an improved infotainment system with sat-nav featuring live traffic information.

Our pick of the engine range is the 1.0-litre. It’s far from fast (the VW T-Roc and Skoda Kamiq offer stronger alternatives), but it's quiet and up to the job of round-town trips and the occasional motorway jaunt.

Our favourite version Nissan Juke 1.0 DiG-T 114 N-Connecta
List price £24,585
Target price £21,422
Target PCP £191

January sales 2421

Read our Nissan Juke review

Our pick: 1.6 TGDi Hybrid 230 SE Connect 5dr 2WD Auto

0-62mph: 8 sec
MPG/range: 50.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 127g/km
Seats: 5
Boot: 616 litres
Insurance group: 18E
Reliability
Safety
Costs
Quality
Performance

Strengths

  • Frugal hybrid is a worthy alternative to diesel
  • Well-made interior
  • Spacious for passengers and luggage

Weaknesses

  • So-so handling
  • Ride can get choppy at times
  • No sliding rear seats

The Hyundai Tucson is closely related to the Kia Sportage – not that you’d know, because they look very different. Petrol, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are available, and while there’s no diesel, the petrol-electric versions are worthy alternatives.

There’s no shortage of family SUVs on the market, but the Tucson shines when it comes to the interior. While it's not quite as plush as the Sportage, it’s well made, very well equipped regardless of trim and there’s plenty of space for four adults, and the boot is one of the largest in the class.

The entry-level SE Connect is our favourite trim, balancing keen pricing with a good amount of kit, but we’d dig a little deeper for the full hybrid model because at the hands of our testers, driving the car in the real world, it comfortably managed 40mpg.

Our favourite version Hyundai Tucson 1.6 TGDi Hybrid 230 SE Connect 2WD Auto
List price £35,940
Target price £33,755
Target PCP £360

January sales 2373

Read our Hyundai Tucson review