With a belated and probably now irrelevant report on February’s UK car sales figures (which is hardly his fault), Andrew Miles reviews the state of play before the world stopped.
Sales are king and the king is dead. With new realities affecting every facet of life, buying a new car has become as intangible as believing in Lancia’s return to UK shores or searching the heavens for flying pigs.
But car sales do continue, if only a trickle to their former flood, and practically all on-line as dealerships are firmly closed. Using the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) year to date figures (and the up to press February version) reveals this island’s uptake of shiny metal boxes before we were ordered to live life behind closed doors.
You’ve probably melted your credit card limit due to those necessary purchases weeks ago, thus anything you configure will be pure fantasy. As are some of the cars invading the top ten, which is where any good list begins.
In tenth with 3386 sales is the white goods of the car world known as the Kia Sportage. They are fridge white because that paint is free and whilst the looks may be anodyne, the value for money price tag and that seven year warranty obviously cuts the mustard with buyers.
Ninth position is our first German representative, given over to the Bavarian 3 series. Wearing the snout of a stuffed (not flying) pig with bling earrings, it’s reasonable to believe that most are heading for the fleet world. 3648 Driers will be heading up your exhaust pipe on the motorway as soon as traffic returns to normal.
Maintaining our Teutonic relations, eighth place is reserved for the car containing more folds and creases this side of an origami lesson – the Volkswagen Polo. Beloved for being perceived as a mini-Golf and therefore exemplary, 3787 were bought, by pension money probably.
Next; now, is it British? Or French? Just what is the seventh placed (with 3801 sold), Grandland X from Vauxhall, all about? In the staple white with black outlines, it resembles a Friesian cow with windows. Those buying them new; don’t they realise it’ll lose a bomb in depreciation? Or are they initially fleet bound, set to become a decent second hand purchase to shift your caravan for those autumnal holidays we’ll all be forced to have?
Sixth parking place is reserved for another of Ms. Merkel’s Machines. From Stuttgart, it’s the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It’s a handsome enough hatchback which has the PCP deals and the cachet of being particularly popular with the yoof (that is anyone younger than 35). 4682 were shifted but I don’t want my cockpit resembling the Starship Enterprise, nor do I especially want to look like an estate agent.
Fifth and we’re (sort of) back to Blighty and Sunderland’s own Nissan Cash-Cow (as I’ve frequently heard it called without irony), the car that kick started the whole Sports Utility Vehicle craze we are presently kowtowing to. Sports and Vehicle are words easily addressed and understood. Utility means, to me, gas, electric, telephones and not these overblown devices. 5901 new Qashqai’s found a school entrance to block.
A return to Luton, now with the Corsa. These figures are for the old version as the PSA group has yet to fully inject their brand of DNA into the nation’s fourth best selling vehicle. When they do, your choices of motive power will have grown; sans plomb, the black stuff and whisper quiet electricity. A perennial favourite here in Britain, are Vauxhall still suffering with that image problem of old? 6244 new owners have obviously decided otherwise.
Podium places now and the bottom step being filled by yet another staple from Wolfsburg: Der Golf. Yes, they who have almost changed their badge recently and would have us forget all about fuel testing figures, still shift boat loads of ‘em. With sales of 7484, the Golf is as popular as buying toilet roll or anti-bacterial soap. And about as interesting.
To no-ones surprise, both silver and gold medal positions are firmly owned by the Blue Oval. In second place with 8051 crates sold is the Focus. Like a dependable son-in-law, this fellow is also rather handsome. Mostly seen in enhancing Chrome Blue yet still somehow anonymous. Of course you can have the Focus in Hatch, estate and ubiquitous slightly elevated and ruined guise. None seen so far, thankfully.
No fanfare needed for the result but the Fiesta, Ford’s dogged small-ish runabout deserves a piece of music commissioned for its attractive appearance. 9210 sold so far this year but perhaps the most unusual item in this piece was in February, the Fiesta’s monthly crown was grudgingly handed over to… the Golf… by 323 sales. The Germans feature strongly, with MINI along with the Five series hauling 1300 sales each for the shortest month.
Of course the next batch of figures will have plummeted with no real sign of improvement. One good side being the environment, which has benefited from the significant decrease in traffic. But is the number up for new car sales? The only certainty remains the fact that numbers can reveal whatever you wish them to.