New car sales figures reveal ones to watch

Every month new car sales figures land in our inbox courtesy of the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, leaving us with a busy morning sifting through the reams of figures.

You may have spotted the articles highlighting the most popular cars in the UK coming through each month, and the chances are it will be a choice out of the Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa and Vauxhall Astra.

It is the same story this month, with all four taking their place in the top five best-sellers in April and the Ford Fiesta finishing at the top of the pile in both April and for the year as a whole.

At Ford, managing director Nigel Sharp’s comments were typically business-like: “The UK market continues to be intensely competitive and we are maintaining our discipline to strike an appropriate balance between sales/share and business profitability."

Which will probably be of no interest to you, the consumer, if you’re looking to buy a car.
However, the SMMT sales figures can be useful for the new car buyer. The Ford Fiesta has sold five thousand more cars in 2011 than its nearest rival, which happens to be the Ford Focus.

Ford’s domination isn’t by chance, the Blue Oval sells the perfect car for somebody living in the UK. Small, frugal and packed with technology, Ford cars also have one feature that rival car makers cannot compete with; their drive is second to none.

The Fiesta and Focus both have responsive handling, comfortable suspension and gutsy engines capable of making an A-B journey more fun than a simple commute.

However, Ford’s continued improvement of its range, culminating in the release of the new 2011 Ford Focus last month, is a necessity for the brand as several key rivals have introduced hugely impressive cars.

Not least in areas away from the supermini and family car segments, where a third Vauxhall in the top ten, the Insignia is continuing its sales success.

The Insignia was introduced as a replacement for the Vauxhall Vectra, and the saloon in particular has been a huge hit for the Griffin brand.

Generously equipped and fitted with the new Griffin badge and styling replicated throughout the range, the Insignia is the UK’s seventh most popular car and the first mid-size saloon and estate on the list.

Estate versions take up around 15 per cent of the 16,000 sales in 2011, but both body styles provide a more upmarket car and a more refined ride than many of its rivals.

The Insignia dominates a segment which comprises the Ford Mondeo and the new influx of crossovers such as the Peugeot 3008 and Kia Sportage are taking sales away from the likes of the Ford Kuga.

This is because they offer modern styling, ultra-efficient engines and affordable prices – everything a car buyer is looking for in a new car.

For the likes of Ford, this is sure to only spur it on to produce cars with more style and equipment, as well as continuing its investment in low-CO2 engines at its Dagenham facility, and for the buyer this means better, cheaper cars in future.

The SMMT may not seem like the most interesting set of results for car buyers, but it shows just how competitive the car market is becoming and gives buyers a glimpse at what are the best cars to buy today.