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How long can the Ford Fiesta remain at the top?

By raccars Published

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Is Britain's best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta, facing some serious challengers to its crown?

The Ford Fiesta has been Britain's best-selling car for seven years. Even during the hugely successful period the British automotive industry is currently enjoying, the Fiesta far outsells its nearest rivals. Released in 1976, it is currently in its seventh generation with more than 16 million units sold in that time.

However, British consumers are buying more cars than ever and set a new car buying record last year with 2.6 million new vehicle registrations, 6.3 per cent higher than the previous year. At the same time not just retailing but manufacturing is also booming and reached a ten year high in 2015, when almost 1.6 million cars were built in the UK. The majority of those were destined for export.

British consumers are now faced with an almost bewildering choice of new model releases every year, with the crossover or SUV segment in the middle of a seemingly unstoppable march all over the automotive sales landscape. Superminis have, until recently, been the busiest market segment in the UK but SUVs were the fastest growing sector last year.

Thus far in 2016, the second best-selling model after the Fiesta is the Nissan Qashqai SUV. Diesel is suffering a rather torrid time lately, to the advantage of the alternatively fuelled vehicles sector, which is expanding at an extraordinary rate. How much longer can the Ford Fiesta remain the default choice for supermini buyers? How long can it resist the charge of the SUVs?

Challengers to the Ford Fiesta

Apart from the obvious Qashqai, the following models posted the fastest growth last year in the UK. None are a regular feature on the best sellers list as yet. But watch this space...

Renault Zoe

Putting in a stellar performance in the electric car sector, the cute little Zoe saw its sales increase by 102 per cent over the last year to more than 2,000 units. It's a great little city car, bursting with Gallic charm. Of course as an electric car there are always range limitations - in this case about 90 miles, but that's adequate for a city runabout.

An 80 per cent battery charge takes half an hour and a home charging station is installed as part of the deal. At £13,945 after the Government's low emissions discount, the Zoe is relatively affordable, which probably explains why it now makes up 20 per cent of the UK's EV market. Batteries can be leased for £55 per month with some generous finance packages available.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

This must be one of the trendiest cars on the market right now, as it's both a crossover and a plug-in hybrid, so it ticks the SUV and low emissions vehicle boxes. It's a user friendly machine with lots of interior space, elevated ride height and a little bit of off-road capability. You can drive it in combustion engine mode or plug it in for a 32 mile pure electric range, before the petrol engine will once again take over.

The Government subsidy means that you can buy an Outlander PHEV from £31,804, which 14,000 people did in the UK last year, increasing Outlander PHEV sales by 75 per cent compared to 2014. Half of plug-in hybrids sold in the UK are the Outlander PHEV.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

As the gap between premium and mainstream narrows, cars such as the C-Class are more accessible to the average buyer than ever before, as evidenced by a 54 per cent increase in sales of the German compact executive model last year. The C-Class was updated in 2015 and is now better than ever, with sales helped by some attractive finance deals. Prices start at £27,665, so it's not cheap but the car buying public clearly feels that it is good value for money.

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