By on January 27, 2012

We have already told you how many cars were sold in Europe last year, and by which company. But who cares about car companies, you care about cars.

After Jato Dynamics did the required cross-tabbing, we are pleased to bring you Europe’s most loved (and bought) cars of 2011.

Europe’s Top Ten 2011

Rank Make & Model Dec_11 Dec_10 change 2011 2010 change
1 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF 33,849 33,591 0.8% 484,547 492,238 -1.6%
2 VOLKSWAGEN POLO 26,315 25,581 2.9% 356,490 354,640 0.5%
3 FORD FIESTA 25,113 23,104 8.7% 348,465 401,919 -13.3%
4 OPEL/VAUXHALL CORSA 24,275 28,208 -13.9% 313,325 318,900 -1.7%
5 RENAULT CLIO 20,219 26,830 -24.6% 294,172 338,583 -13.1%
6 OPEL/VAUXHALL ASTRA 21,302 22,509 -5.4% 287,249 290,936 -1.3%
7 FORD FOCUS 18,787 15,425 21.8% 280,209 261,857 7.0%
8 PEUGEOT 207 16,681 23,524 -29.1% 242,385 305,461 -20.6%
9 RENAULT MEGANE 17,838 18,246 -2.2% 239,329 260,932 -8.3%
10 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT 17,011 9,306 82.8% 233,330 159,264 46.5%
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33 Comments on “Europe’s Top Ten Cars: The Golf Still Has The Most Lovers...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    Amazing, as they are all sales to first time VW customers. As everyone at TTAC knows, no one ever buys a second VW…

    • 0 avatar
      daviel

      1964 Beetle, Scirocco, Old lotsa windows bus, Newer bus w/ porsche aircooled engine, jetta, new beetle. Yeah I bought a second one all right. I have this VW thing – I like the 3d generation beetle too.

      • 0 avatar
        Brian P

        We’ve had several in our family, and they’ve all been good. My dad buys new every three years whether he needs it or not, I drive them into the ground. Sold my 96 Passat TDI with 462,000 km on it, have 359,000 km on the 06 Jetta TDI right now.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, YMMV. As a family we had 2 Santanas in a row, the 2 Quantum (in Brazil it was a Santana SW) in a row. Then my sister had one of the first Gol ‘bolinha’. After that a dry spell (for VW in my family)of about 5 years then my dad got a Golf, which was shortlived due to its weird driving position killed his back.

      Oh my dad and mom also had a Fusca (beetle), Karmann Ghia, Brasilia, but that was either before I was born or a very young kid. I also seem to remember a company issued Bus my dad drove around.

      So from about 2002 or thereabouts until recently no VWs. Lately my Dad got a Gol 4 and a Gol 5 as company cars (long gone, changed for Stilo thanks company!)and my brother-in-law now drives a Jetta, which I reviewed for this site.

      So, since 2002 nothing from VW has prompted people in my family to buy them. That I can think of in the last 10 years just a friend had a New Beetle.

      Its been tough going for VW among my family and friends.

  • avatar
    skor

    Shouldn’t the chart title read, “Europe’s Top Ten for December 2011”? Because if you rank them by the entire year, they are out of order.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    Four things strike me about this post. One, Peugeot is larger than Renault by a long shot yet Renault has two best-sellers to PSA’s one. Two, Opel continues to sell well yet can’t make money. Three, the babe in the new Golf. Four, you know the joke about Germans being lovers.

    • 0 avatar

      Come again?

      Bran vs. brand Renault sells more than Peugeot. Renault sells less than PSA in Europe, but if you add Nissan even in Europe Renault Nissan Alliance sells more than PSA (just follow the link provided by Bertel in article).Being that Nissan is strong in Asia and NA and the PSA twins are strong elsewhere (as is Renault), I’d venture to say Reanult is bigger than Peugeot.

      Just saying.

      • 0 avatar
        getacargetacheck

        Yes, I am not including Nissan. PSA had 2010 revenues of 56B euros compared to Renault’s 39B. PSA vehicle output is also higher. The point is that one would expect the larger company to have more top 10 sellers than the smaller competitor. Maybe PSA has positions 11, 12, and 13?

  • avatar
    vbofw

    Where’s the Cruze?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I guess Europeans don’t give a rat’s behind about reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Look at the DEKRA statistics to get the European view. They provide data about % of cars requiring slight or major repairs at inspection, and categorized by mileage. You can see highlights here:
      http://www.stern.de/auto/service/dekra-maengelreport-2012-diesen-gebrauchtwagen-koennen-sie-vertrauen-1773090-photoshow.html

      And then look at specific models and do your own comparisons here:
      http://www.used-car-report.com/

    • 0 avatar
      svenmeier

      I wish people would seriously stop the exaggeration about “reliability and European cars being poor”.

      I’ve been driving European cars for decades and I’ve never had any major problems with them. And to hammer home a point, I drove French cars for years in the ’70s and ran them into the ground and they never failed me. Basic maintenance and regular checkups and the changing of worn out parts are the simplest ways of keeping your car in running order. Period.

      Europeans want reliable cars like everyone else. Guess what? The cars on that list are reliable. If they have one or two or three problems a year, that doesn’t make them unreliable at all, especially if the problems are minor and do not affect the driving capabilities of the car. Cars breaking down today are the exception rather than the rule.

      If those brands sold us poor quality and unreliable cars, we wouldn’t buy them. It’s that simple or we wouldn’t go back. The truth is that Volkswagen has a good reputation for quality and reliability in Europe and so do their umbrella brands like Skoda, which regularly wins quality and reliability awards. Skoda also uses Volkswagen technology and the same electronics etc. from the same suppliers as Volkswagen.

      Maybe we Europeans are just better at maintaining our cars in running order than Americans, who seem to forgo some basic maintenance issues from what I’ve gathered reading posts across the web. The issue of costs always come up.

      You know, you really should have prepared yourself for that when you bought your expensive European car. For example, someone who buys a Ferrari should expect spare parts and maintenance to cost serious money. Instead I get the feeling that someone buys a Ferrari and then complains about a $ 10,000 oil change whereas it only cost $ 5 on the Civic he was driving a few months ago. I’m being sarcastic, in case you don’t notice.

      • 0 avatar
        another_pleb

        “I wish people would seriously stop the exaggeration about “reliability and European cars being poor”.”

        +100

        I’m starting to get a wee bit sick and tired of some of the lazy thinking that I am increasingly seeing on this site.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    These are comparisons with other European brands and models, where are the Asians here? They’re in a whole diff category, I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Mercury Mark 75

      In general Europe does not buy many cars from Asian brands. For example in 2010 (dated but the best i could find) the Nissan Qashqai was the highest at 13 and toyota and Honda didn’t come in until 21 and 71 with the yaris and jazz respectively.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      One factor here is that the European market is basically 50% diesel. Several European manufacturers make very good diesel engines. The Japanese are behind in that area. My own observations have also been that the European manufacturers have ride and handling much better sorted out. Add to that the natural tendency for ANYone to favour vehicles from their own home market … and there is no pressing reason why anyone in Europe would ever buy a Corolla instead of a Golf. And they don’t.

  • avatar
    spyked

    The horror! Those unreliable VW’s are the top sellers again! I guess us Americans are just smarter than the rest of the entire planet. We don’t buy no stinking unreliable cars.

    Of course, I see plenty of 30 year old VWs, Volvos, and MBs on the streets of the U.S. and no Hondas of the same age….wonder why?

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    It’s impressive that VW manages to flog so many Golfs, considering the current model was launched in 2003 and is now 9 years old (despite the 2009 facelift, which itself was just a cost-cutting exercise).

    • 0 avatar
      Fusion

      Since the JATO-numbers view the Golf+ as a different car, those also are just “regular” golf sales. If you view the Plus as just another Bodystyle of the Golf (like the Variant, or the Convertible) and want to add those numbers, that would be another ~80.000 sales…

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The Jetta, Scirocco, Tiguan and Touran are additional Golf derivatives. And that’s just for the VW brand …

      • 0 avatar
        Fusion

        Well, they do share the same platform, so they are derivatives somehow (though you might have to call the Golf an A3 derivative then, since that was there first)… ;)

        But counting all models on a platform as one might be just *a bit* overkill (and the new Jetta iirc has a modified platform anyway) ;)

        But usually different bodystyles of the same car are counted together – you don’t exclude wagons, convertibles, sedans, 2-door and 4-door hatchback all separately. IMHO the Golf+ is nothing more than another bodystyle of the same car – it shares the exact same wheelbase, and imho is not that much more different from the “normal” one than the wagon or convertible would be. It isn’t just based on the same platform, it is actually a derivative of the Golf, even though it probably doesn’t actually share much of the skin parts…

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      That’s an easy one… The MK6 golfs (of which I am an owner) are not just a cost cutting exercise. They are designed to eliminate the big reliability issues from the mk5. It is rare in the car world when this happens, but you get the benefit of improving a well sorted platform. My GTI is nearly 2 years old, spends its life here in Arizona, and is currently at zero on the “problems of any kind” scale.

      VW bashers aren’t complete morons, but their over generalization does make me laugh. I’m on my second VW by the way.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I know a couple of reasons VW manage to sell more cars than the Japanese.
    Firstly they have a reasonably cheap base model to get sensible people in through the doors (1.2 Trendline, starting at roughly 40k $ in Norway), and then there’s the Halo car (R32 4wd, easily optioned up to 120K $ ), to get the enthusiasts through the doors. And then there’s everything in between, assuring you that you end up with a more or less unique car (statistically VW thinks that they build less than 10 identical Golfs on an average every year). (three different body styles, hatch, Plus (also as crossover), and wagon, at least 20 engines, etc.)
    This makes the customer feel special, at least more than having to choose between two engines and 7 colors, like most Japanese brands.
    And they offer a little better quality feel, sound insulation and interior materials, so you get something for your money besides just reliability. (which, according too many people I know, is still the only major advantage any Japanese car has)

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Interestingly, VW doesn’t do that in North America. Here, you are pretty much stuck with two engines on the normal Golf (2.5 or TDI) and the GTI has no choice in the matter (2.0 TSI). Pick engine, pick Trendline or Comfortline or Highline, one or two option packages, automatic or manual, and the colour, and that’s it.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        For that, you can blame the high cost and big hassle for getting a car through the hoops (EPA, NHTSA) to be sold in the United States. We may not have a tariff barrier in this country but the paperwork barrier serves well in its place.

        I know that I’ve mentioned this situation more than once on TTAC, but it does have a big effect on which foreign-make cars we can buy in the United States.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        And given those barriers, there is little ground for American lawmakers to complain about the difficulty of exporting cars to Japan!

      • 0 avatar
        skotastic

        fincar1

        True, but there is no excuse for VW to offer only some 5 colors. I almost want to buy a MINI or FIAT only because they offer something other than insanely dull black, white, silver, grey, red and an overused metallic shade of blue.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    What happened to the Passat to get such a large jump? I’m sure everyone else would love that sort of effectiveness year to year!

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      New grill and tail lights. But how could they have possibly known that THAT was exactly what the people want? The boys from Brazil…um…er…I mean Wolfsburg, probably also added some additional wheel options to go with the 15-20 already in the line-up.

      So there you have it. Throw in a stiff dose of farfegnugen fukenfusion, and you’ve got yourself a sure winner in the daily double.

  • avatar
    SV

    No big surprises here, though I didn’t expect the Polo to outsell the Fiesta. I also find it a bit extraordinary that a moderately heavy facelift has managed to boost Passat sales so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Lampredi

      That’s extraordinary indeed, especially considering that the pre-facelift Passat looked rather nice, whereas the facelifted one looks like a plastic surgery disaster.

      But then again, it seems VW can get away with anything, including defacing the bread-and-butter cars in its lineup, and still sell cars by the bucketload.

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