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Best-selling cars in Europe 2021

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Dacia Sandero tops the worst January performance on the continent since 1991

New car registrations fell 2.4% year on year in January in what was the month’s worst performance since 1991, new data from Jato Dynamics has shown. 

Registrations across 26 European markets dropped 2.4% down to a total of 811,332, despite government-imposed lockdowns having impacted January 2021. The figure is also 28% lower than that recorded in pre-pandemic January 2020. 

Jato said the drop in sales is a result of low consumer confidence, which has been affected by economic conditions and the global semiconductor shortage.

“Last month, consumer confidence remained low, due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, and production continued to be hit by the ongoing semiconductor shortage,” said Jato global analyist Felipe Munoz. 

SUVs meanwhile achieved a record market share: 402,900 were registered, forming 49.7% of the overall market. Volume of SUVs increased by 11% from January 2021, although this figure was still down by 10% compared with January 2020. 

Electrified cars also grew in popularity, totalling 149,000 units in January, up 36% from January 2021 and 105% from January 2020.

Battery-electric vehicles achieved 73% growth, while plug-in hybrids grew by 9%.

“These segments have been a lifeline for Europe’s OEMs and the only option for consumers looking for a fast delivery,” said Munoz. 

The Dacia Sandero finished the month as the best-selling model, with 17,558 units sold, representing 10% growth year on year. It was followed by the Peugeot 208 with 16,190 and the larger Peugeot 2008 with 16,190.

The top 10 best-selling models in Europe are listed below. 

The best-selling cars in Europe in 2022

1 Dacia Sandero: 17,558 +10%

The highly affordable Dacia Sandero supermini achieved 10% sales growth year-on-year at the start of 2022, finishing January in the number-one spot. It became an even more appealing buy last year with the introduction of a new-generation model, featuring much-improved equipment such as LED headlights and a touchscreen infotainment system. 

2 Peugeot 208: 16,190, -6%

The Peugeot 208 led Stellantis’s strong end to the year, finishing 2021 in a very respectable second place, and it has started 2022 in an equally strong position. Its popularity is no doubt helped by extensive revisions in line with Peugeot’s new design language. It also became the first small car to be offered with petrol, diesel and electric powertrains. 

3 Peugeot 2008: 14,563, -2%

This boldly styled compact crossover is a popular choice for European drivers. Its January sales weren’t quite as strong as this time last year, but Peugeot still shipped 14,563 of them in Europe. Once again, it’s the top-selling SUV, beating the likes of the Volkswagen T-Roc and the Hyundai Tucson. ​

4 Volkswagen Golf: 14,483, -4%

It looks like the Volkswagen Golf will continue its strong sales run in 2022 after finishing last year as Europe’s top seller. It was hit heavily by supply restraints, but demand remained strong. It was most recently updated in 2020, with a redesign and a selection of petrol, diesel and hybrid powertrains. A total of 205,405 Golfs were sold in 2021, including the GTI, GTE, GTD and R performance variants. 

5 Volkswagen T-Roc: 13,668, -1% 

The T-Roc crossover is Volkswagen’s second model in the top 10, with sales of 13,668 in January. That’s almost equal to this time last year. The small crossover has been around since 2017, and its popularity reflects its versatile mix of petrol and diesel powertrains, as well as the recent introduction of a performance-oriented flagship R model.

6 Skoda Octavia: 13,395, +2%

Skoda’s family hatchback and estate finishes the first month of the year in a strong sixth place with 13,395 sales, up 2% year on year. It’s Skoda’s best-selling car, reflected in its positive start to the year. A plug-in hybrid variant was recently introduced, meaning the car is now available with a wide range of powertrains. 

7 Renault Clio: 12,856, -11%

Despite a 21.1% drop in sales, the Renault Clio still finished in the top five for European sales. Its appeal was bolstered by a versatile range of petrol and diesel engines and a characterful design. Underscoring its ability, it earned 4.5 stars out of five in our road test. 

8 Toyota Yaris Cross: 12,456, new

A new entry into the top 10, the Toyota Yaris Cross is a good entry into the compact SUV class. It’s buoyed by good driving dynamics, capable efficiency and adds to the five-strong line-up offered by the Japanese brand. Toyota sold 12,456 of them – not bad at all for the funky-looking model. 

9 Ford Puma: 12,159, +18%

The Ford Puma’s driving dynamics and attractive pricing are key draws for owners, and it’s looking to carry on last year’s success. The compact crossover has achieved the joint-highest growth year-on-year, growing 18%. The range has swollen recently with the addition of a plush Vignale trim and a warm-blooded ST version. 

10 Toyota Corolla: 11,990, +18%

Toyota’s reliable Corolla matched the Ford Puma in terms of year-on-year growth, also achieving 18%. It sold 11,990 units in January. It has proved a hit in the family car segment, thanks in part to its incredibly efficient hybrid powertrains.