With 2012’s new car sales figures released, we look at the top ten winners in terms of percentage increase in their sales figures. Why have they done so well? Why is SsangYong involved? What’s an Infiniti? All will be revealed below…

Before fans of the Korean marque (they must be out there, somewhere) get all excited and start throwing street parties, it’s important to remember that only 194 SsangYongs found new homes in 2011, so a 351.03 per cent jump to 875 cars doesn’t mean that it is now the most popular brand in the country. With a new model called the Korando and a new importer sales have started to pick up.

In the aftermath of Fiat’s amalgamation with Chrysler group, the legendary American brand is making a fresh assault on the UK, with its Ypsilon supermini and Delta small hatch (sold as Lancias on the continent) joining the Grand Voyager MPVand the 300C executive saloon. Sales have gone up from 1,182 in 2011 to 3,333 in 2012, an increase of 181.98 per cent. This is remarkable growth but they are still a long way off challenging the more mainstream marques on this side of the pond.

A grand old British brand which has had new life breathed into it by its Chinese owners, SAIC, the introduction of the MG6 small hatch in 2011 initially met with a cool reception. Just 360 6s found homes in 2011 but 782 were sold in 2012 – an increase of 117.2 per cent. The introduction of a diesel engine towards the end of 2012 and the MG3 supermini arriving next year should mean that this doyen of British motoring is getting back on its feet.

Nissan’s luxury arm arrived on these shores in September 2009 amidst much bombast and confident predictions from the bigwigs at Nissan. Cars like the M35h executive saloon have, however, failed to make much headway against the established brands like Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar and although sales have jumped 38.74 per cent, this is only from a meagre 382 in 2011 to an equally disappointing 530 in 2012.

Land Rover
A record-breaking year for Jaguar Land Rover has been spearheaded by the massive popularity of the Range Rover Evoque (they can’t build them fast enough). Land Rover’s sales have jumped from 37,637 to an impressive 48,626 – an increase of 29.2 per cent. This vibrant and intrinsically British company has shown that despite poor economic circumstances, a quality product and sensible investment can mean that a good brand can, not only survive rough times, but grow in importance.

After overreaching itself in its attempts to buy VW, Porsche (now under the VW Group banner itself) has gone from strength to strength, especially with the introduction of the third generation Boxster. Sales have leapt from 6,322 in 2011 to 7,998 in 2012 – a 25.32 per cent increase. With a new 4×4, the Macan, to be introduced next year, we see no reason why this trend should falter now.

What else can be said about Kia? Once the very definition of motoring mediocrity, the Korean company’s cars are now seriously impressive, with cars such as the Cee’d mounting a serious challenge to the Volkswagen Golfs and Ford Focuses of this world. With impressive products, come impressive sales, 66,629 in 2012, a jump of 24.27 per cent over 2011 and considerably ahead of Honda in both volume and percentage increase.

A surprise entry into this top 10, Suzuki had an impressive year in 2012, outselling 2011 by 22.6 per cent – from 20,295 cars to 24,893 in 2012. Most of this can be attributed to the impressive Swift supermini. More refined and grown up than the previous model, especially in (great fun) Sport guise, Suzuki are starting to break out of their niche status in this country.

Under Volkswagen stewardship, Bentley has become an extremely strong brand, combining cosseting luxury with crushing power and performance. To some, the brand has become a bit chintzy and too popular with footballers but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t make seriously impressive cars. The GT V8 model has brought the brand to more people, with improved fuel economy and emissions (as well as a cheaper list price) and much of the brand’s 22.18 per cent increase in sales in 2012 can be attributed to this model

Fiat is continuing its retreat from the brink of financial disaster and the hugely impressive Panda has much to do with this. Sales have increased by 19.93 per cent over 2011’s figures – a jump from 41,612 in 2011 to 49,907 in 2012.

By James Richardson