April 2023 new car sales revealed: who were the winners and losers?
Petrol cars were the most popular among UK car buyers last month, while electric cars saw the biggest rise in sales. But which models were the most popular among drivers?...
New car sales in the UK were up by more than 11.6% in April compared with the same month last year, new figures have revealed.
In total, 132,990 new cars were sold last month – the best April performance since 2021. The majority of those went to company car fleets, which grew by a third (33.1%) compared with April 2022, with the rest going to private buyers.
Petrol cars continued to grow in popularity among new car buyers, with 56,885 sold – an increase of 4.1% over the same month last year. However, the biggest rise in sales came from electric cars, with 20,522 sold, 59.1% more than in the same period last year. Electric cars accounted for 15.4% of the total new car market in April.
Combined with growing sales of plug-in hybrids, that means electrified vehicles accounted for more than one in three sales last month. But which new cars were the favourites among UK buyers? Below, we count down the top 10 best-sellers.
Our favourite version 1.5 Cooper Exclusive | List price £25,585 | Target Price £24,841 | Target PCP £288
The Mini has consistently been one of Britain's best-selling cars for a long time, because buyers like its cutesy retro-inspired looks, its peppy range of engines and the fact that its small size makes it easy to manoeuvre around town.
In 1.5-litre petrol-engined form, the Mini feels sprightly around town and never out of breath on faster roads. The sportier Cooper S, meanwhile, gets 176bhp from its 2.0-litre petrol engine, which is enough to dispatch a 0-62mph sprint in 6.6sec.
Exclusive trim is the entry point to the Mini range these days, yet it gives you such luxuries as leather seats and 17in alloy wheels. There's scope to add extras via Mini's extensive range of options, though.
April sales 2304
- The classiest small car interior
- Excellent infotainment system
- Strong resale values
- Ride is a bit firm
- Not as safe as rivals
- Only has two rear seats
Our favourite version 1.0T GDi Excite | List price £20,355 | Target price £18,969 | Target PCP £227
The MG ZS stands out in the family SUV market for its classy interior and roomy rear seats. True, a Dacia Duster is cheaper to buy and has a bigger boot, but the ZS is still more affordable than most rivals, including the Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq.
It offers great practicality, with lots of leg and head room for the driver and passengers. And its interior quality is remarkably good considering its budget price tag.
Entry-level Excite trim is our preferred version, because it gives you great value for money with useful goodies such as adaptive cruise control, automatic LED headlights and built-in sat-nav.
April sales 2335
- Good rear seat space
- Lower price than most rivals
- Has a seven-year warranty
- Has a poor safety rating
- The engines are uneconomical
- Performance is so-so
Our favourite version 1.0 Ecoboost Titanium | List price £21,200 | Target price £19,945 | Target PCP £249
Although it’s going off sale later this year, the Fiesta continues to be a hit with small car buyers, and for good reason.
It’s still the best car in its class to drive, with sharp handling and precise steering. The ride may be firm, but it’s far from uncomfortable, and versions without sports suspension are especially good at absorbing bumps. As for engines, we recommend the 1.0 Ecoboost 100 petrol unit, because it offers punchy performance without breaking the bank.
The Fiesta is also reasonably practical, although it’s far from class-leading, and the interior is sensibly designed. Everything you touch regularly has a premium feel, and the driving position is very good.
April sales 2336
- Brilliant to drive
- Punchy Ecoboost engines
- Good fuel economy and CO2 emissions
- Some rivals are better value
- Decent but not class-leading practicality
- Important safety kit not standard
Our favourite version 1.0 TSI 110 Life | List price £27,045 | Target price £25,938 | Target PCP £261
The Volkswagen T-Roc is our reigning Small SUV of the Year. Not only is it one of the most comfortable cars in its class, but it also impresses with a high-set driving position that many small SUVs fail to deliver.
Inside, it's very spacious for its size, with plenty of room for front and rear passengers. Its boot is also one of the biggest in its class, swallowing seven carry-on suitcases below its load cover; that's more than the Seat Arona can manage.
What’s more, it gets plenty of safety kit as standard, which no doubt will have contributed to its full five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP.
April sales 2385
- Comfortable ride and quiet on the motorway
- High-set driving position for a small SUV
- Good boot by class standards
- Touch-sensitive controls can be fiddly
- Upper trims and engine options are too pricey
- Unexciting handling (the Ford Puma is a sharper drive)
Our favourite version 1.3 DiG-T MH N-Connecta | List price £31,540 | Target price £27,213 | Target PCP £269
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 good all-rounder, combining family-friendly 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 useful kit – including 18in alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control and keyless entry – for a very reasonable price.
April sales 2538
- Lots of standard safety kit
- Great driving position
- Smart interior
- So-so performance
- Some rivals are more fun to drive
- Lacks the seating flexibility of many rivals
Our favourite version 40 TFSIe Sport | List price £35,610 | Target price £33,952 | Target PCP £416
The A3 is a great all-rounder, being well built, comfortable and enjoyable to drive. Our favourite version is the plug-in hybrid, which can officially run for up to 40 miles on electric power alone in entry-level Sport guise. With such a good range, this model makes for a tempting company car choice with its lowly 7% tax rating.
It’s also very enjoyable to drive, with handling that’s predictable and engaging. True, the interior quality isn't quite as good as that of the BMW 1 Series, but everything is still well built and attractive to look at.
What’s more, it has more than enough leg, shoulder and head room for tall adults at the front. And while you’ll find more rear space in a Skoda Octavia or Seat Leon, six-footers won’t exactly struggle to get comfortable in the back of the A3.
April sales 2548
- Sharp handling
- Excellent driving position
- Strong and frugal engines, including the excellent plug-in hybrid
- Interior quality is good but could be better
- Fiddly infotainment system
- Audi's unimpressive reliability record
Our favourite version 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 230 SE Connect | List price £34,640 | Target Price £32,950 | Target PCP £364
The Tucson is among the most practical family SUVs; it has lots of space in the front and rear and one of the biggest boots in the class.
Practicality aside, the interior is well laid out and feels solid, although it lacks the plush feel you get inside premium rivals, such as the Volvo XC40.
If you go for the hybrid version, you can expect reasonable performance and impressive fuel economy, but ride quality in all versions of the Tucson could be better, especially considering the comfort offered by some family SUVs.
April sales 2911
- Frugal hybrid is a worthy alternative to diesel
- Well-made interior
- Spacious for passengers and luggage
- So-so handling
- Ride can get choppy at times
- No sliding rear seats
Our favourite version 1.6 T-GDi 3 | List price £32,560 | Target Price £31,158 | Target PCP £370
The family SUV market is extremely competitive, so a car has to be truly excellent to stand out – and the Sportage is exactly that. In fact, it's our reigning Family SUV of the Year.
It offers excellent practicality, with a boot that's very spacious and sensibly designed. The interior also offers plenty of leg and head room in the front and rear, while the materials feel suitably plush – more so than the Hyundai Tucson.
Entry-level 2 trim offers fantastic value for money, but upgrading to our recommended 3 trim gives you lots of useful extras, such as heated front and rear seats and keyless entry.
April sales 3073
- Lower spec models are great value
- Smart interior
- Generous rear legroom and boot space
- Hybrid petrol engine sounds strained
- Rear headroom compromised with panoramic roof
- No clever rear seat functions
Our favourite version 1.2 Turbo GS | List price £20,735 | Target Price £19,552 | Target PCP £223
The Corsa is a well-equipped and competitively priced small car, but it falls short of the competition in several key areas. It shares its underpinnings with the Peugeot 208 but isn’t as comfortable or pleasant inside. Additionally, the likes of the VW Polo and Honda Jazz beat the Corsa for practicality.
Despite the firmer ride, the Corsa isn’t noticeably more fun to drive than the 208, either, leaving it well behind the excellent Ford Fiesta in terms of handling.
The mid-range 1.2 Turbo petrol offers decent performance, but it can’t compete with the Jazz when it comes to fuel economy or CO2 emissions.
April sales 3203
- Well equipped
- Decent boot
- Efficient engines
- Laggy and confusing infotainment system
- Below-par safety rating
- Poor resale values
Our favourite version 1.0 Ecoboost 155 mHEV ST-Line | List price £26,640 | Target Price £24,993 | Target PCP £271
The Puma is designed to put a smile on your face, and it does that better than any other small SUV. 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 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 make the case for the playful Puma as a sensible buy.
April sales 3570
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- Great fun to drive
- Remarkable blend of performance and fuel economy
- Big and cleverly designed boot
- Rear space is adequate rather than outstanding
- Visibility could be better
- Volkswagen T-Roc is more comfortable and quieter
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