February 2023 new car sales revealed: who were the winners and losers?
New car sales increased again in February, with hybrids, in particular, driving the growth, but which models left dealerships in the biggest numbers?...
The number of new cars sold in the UK was more than 26% higher last month than in February 2022, official figures have revealed.
In total, 74,441 new cars left showrooms last month, marking the seventh consecutive month of growth in the new car market.
While sales still haven’t quite reached pre-pandemic levels – 79,594 new cars were sold in February 2020 – the latest results coincide with easing supply chain shortages, and suggest that the new car market might be returning to normal.
Sales of electric cars grew especially strongly – up by 18.2% last month – with 12,310 new electric cars sold, compared with 10,417 in February 2022. Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales also grew, but only by 1.0%, to 4723.
A total of 42,378 petrol and mild-hybrid petrol cars were sold in February, representing an increase of 35.8% compared with February last year. However, diesel cars continue to decline in popularity. Only 5433 diesels (including mild-hybrids) were sold over the course of the month, compared with 5804 in February 2022.
So, which new cars were the favourites of UK buyers in February? Below, we count down the top 10 best-sellers.
Our favourite version 1.8 Hybrid Icon | List price £29,920 | Target Price £28,036 | Target PCP £286
Although the C-HR doesn’t make it on to our list of the best family SUVs there’s still a lot to like about it. It's available with a choice of two hybrid engines, either of which should be cheap to run thanks to their excellent efficiency.
Because it’s a hybrid, the C-HR costs more to buy than many petrol-only rivals, but low official CO2 figures keep company car tax low. An impressive list of standard equipment helps to make the model all the more compelling to potential owners.
The C-HR is likely to be a reliable companion, too. Toyota came second in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey (beaten only by its luxury arm Lexus).
February sales 1244
- Good to drive
- Plenty of standard kit
- Cheaper than many rivals as a company car
- Infotainment system isn't great
- Rivals are much more practical
- So-so performance from the 1.8 version
Our favourite version 1.6 T-GDi 3 | List price £32,000 | Target Price £30,697 | Target PCP £358
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; the boot is very spacious and sensibly designed, as is the interior, with plenty of leg and head room in the front and rear. It feels plush inside too, 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.
February sales 1262
- 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 1.0 EcoBoost Titanium | List price £21,180 | Target Price £20,082 | Target PCP £259
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 to drive in its class, 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, 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.
February sales 1303
- 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 £26,210 | Target Price £25,264 | Target PCP £260
The T-Roc is such a great all-rounder that it beat the likes of the fantastic Audi Q2 and Ford Puma to become our Small SUV of the Year.
For a start, it’s supremely comfortable and very refined on the motorway, and well-weighted steering makes for reassuring handling despite the cosseting ride. The interior feels premium, and the lofty driving position is one of the best in the class. Interior space is impressive for a small SUV as is boot space.
For the best value for money, we’d recommend the entry-level 1.0 TSI 110 petrol engine, which offers punchy performance and good fuel economy for a reasonable price.
February sales 1360
- 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)
Tesla Model Y
Our favourite version Long Range AWD | List price £52,990 | Target Price £52,990 | Target PCP N/A
If you want an electric SUV with a long range and rapid performance, the Model Y is a great option. The Long Range version can rocket from 0-60mph in 4.8sec, and has an official range of 331 miles.
The Model Y’s added height and hatchback tailgate make it more practical than the Tesla Model 3 but it's not as good to drive as that car, or plusher family SUVs you might see as rivals, including the BMW iX3 and Genesis GV60.
February sales 1482
- Rapid acceleration
- Great range between charges
- Tesla’s charging infrastructure
- Unsettled ride
- Noisy for an EV
- A Model 3 is cheaper and better to drive
Our favourite version 1.6 T-GDi Hybrid 230 SE Connect | List price £34,620 | Target Price £32,930 | Target PCP £354
The Tucson is among the most practical family SUVs with 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, but lacks the plush feel you get inside premium rivals such as the Volvo XC40.
If you go for the hybrid car 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.
February sales 1528
- 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 1.0 DiG-T 114 N-Connecta | List price £24,295 | Target Price £22,314 | Target PCP £228
The current Juke is a significantly better all-rounder than its predecessor thanks to its impressive practicality and upmarket interior, and we think the 112bhp 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine offers the best value for money.
In entry-level Visia trim, you get a decent amount of kit, but upgrading to Acenta trim adds useful features including a reversing camera (handy given the Juke’s poor rear visibility). N-Connecta is our pick because it gets you a leather-wrapped steering wheel, climate control and keyless start.
February sales 1561
- Strong safety rating and equipment
- Smart interior
- Lots of toys on our recommended trim
- Choppy ride
- So-so infotainment system
- Nissan's reliability record
- Hybrid isn't as fuel efficient as a Toyota Yaris Cross
Our favourite version 1.0 Ecoboost 155 mHEV ST-Line | List price £26,620 | Target Price £24,973 | Target PCP £292
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.
February sales 1590
- 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
Our favourite version 1.2 Turbo 130 GS | List price £28,705 | Target Price £27,045 | Target PCP £287
One of the key advantages of buying a new car is the ability to customise it to suit you, and the Mokka is a highly customisable small SUV. GS trim is the sweet spot of the range, and gets you loads of kit for a reasonable price.
Beyond the toys, the Mokka is refined and comfortable on a motorway, and is available with a range of punchy yet efficient engines. However, it's not as comfy around town as the VW T-Roc or as fun to drive as the Ford Puma.
February sales 1805
- Impressive refinement
- Well equipped
- Grunty yet frugal petrol engines
- Mediocre boot space
- Quicker depreciation than rivals
- Not particularly sharp to drive
Our favourite version 1.2 Turbo GS | List price £21,115 | Target Price £19,958 | Target PCP £224
The Corsa is a well-equipped and competitively priced small car but 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 can’t compete with the Jazz when it comes to fuel economy or CO2 emissions.
February sales 2818
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- Well equipped
- Decent boot
- Efficient engines
- Laggy and confusing infotainment system
- Below-par safety rating
- Poor resale values
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