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Volkswagen Golf retains title as Europe’s best-selling new car in 2021

  • Volkswagen Golf is the best-selling car in Europe for the 14th consecutive year
  • Sales fell for the popular model by 28 per cent in the year
  • The Peugeot 208 was less than 8,000 registrations behind the Golf

Time 12:01 pm, January 27, 2022

Volkswagen remained leader of the pack with its popular Golf in 2021, selling more cars than any other model in Europe.

In total 205,408 new Golfs were registered last year across Europe, according to data released by JATO Dynamics.

The Golf has now held the top spot since 2008 but in 2021 it was a tough fight. Sales fell by 28 per cent for the Golf compared to 2020 and they were 50 per cent down on 2019’s pre-pandemic figure.


The Golf was followed in the sales tables by the Peugeot 208. It also say sales drop in 2021 but only by 1.1 per cent compared to the year before.

In total 196,896 Peugeot 208s were sold in Europe and this was followed by the Dacia Sandero with 196,792 registrations – up 17 per cent.

In 2008, the Golf accounted for 3.16 per cent of the European market, but this had dropped to 1.75 per cent last year.

JATO says the Golf’s reduced popularity is down to the ‘increasing popularity of small and compact SUVs’, ‘internal competition’ and ‘its lack of available electric model’.


Electric and plug-in hybrid cars accounted for 19 per cent of the market in Europe last year and SUV sales made up 45.5 per cent of new registrations.

In fourth was the Renault Clio (196,242) and in fifth position was the Peugeot 2008 (194,653).

Across Europe in 2021, 11.75m new cars were registered, down 1.6 per cent on 2020’s figures and 26 per cent down on 2019.

JATO said it was the worst year for European new car registrations since 1985, with a particularly sharp drop in Germany – Europe’s largest car market – said to account for the disappointing figures.

Felipe Munoz, global analyst at JATO Dynamics, said: ‘Crisis after crisis had a negative impact on demand and registrations in the market.

‘The ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside the prolonged semiconductor shortage created a perfect storm for manufacturers last year.’

Rebecca Chaplin's avatar

Rebecca has been a motoring and business journalist since 2014, previously writing and presenting for titles such as the Press Association, Auto Express and Car Buyer. She has worked in many roles for Car Dealer Magazine’s publisher Blackball Media including head of editorial.

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