By on April 1, 2012

In the last couple of weeks we have traveled to Georgia (the country, not the state,) MyanmarBolivia and the entire world! The success of our exploration of the Top 100 best-selling models in the world last week made me think you might be interested in a similar type of article about Europe…

However, if the whole of Europe is too much for you to handle today, that’s fine because I have sales info for 160 countries for you to visit in my blog, all one by one. So don’t be shy and click away!

Back to your Grand Tour of Europe.

First a bit on the methodology, as ‘Europe’ is a vague geographic notion these days. This data was sourced on Automotive News and includes sales from the 27 European Union countries minus Bulgaria and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

If you are not interested in Europe as a whole but in its individual countries, that’s OK too – just click here and look for your country on the right hand side.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s get to it.

The VW Golf continues to be the best-selling car on the continent by far with 493,855 sales in 2011, it has now been on top of the European ranking every year since 2008…

The Ford Fiesta takes the 2nd spot at 372,977 units…

…just above the VW Polo at 371,454 sales.

The Opel Corsa ranks #4…

…followed by the Opel Astra, Ford Focus and Renault Clio.

The VW Passat is the big winner in the Top 10 at #10, up 10 spots and 43% on 2010.

Down 17% on last year, the Fiat Punto loses its spot in the Top 10 to #11, followed closely by the Nissan Qashqai at #12 with 216,970 sales. The Qashqai hasn’t stopped progressing in the European ranking since its original launch in 2007 and has managed to rank within the monthly European Top 10 a couple of times already, including in September 2011.

The Skoda Octavia is up 2 spots to #14 and climbed into the European Top 10 for the first time in January 2012. The Mercedes C-Class moved up 9 ranks to #16, it überholt its archenemy, the BMW 3 Series.

Europe 2011 Top 20 best-selling models

Pos Model 2011 YoY 2010 Pos ’10
1 VW Golf 493,855 -2% 502,307 1
2 Ford Fiesta 372,977 -12% 425,595 2
3 VW Polo 371,454 2% 364,439 3
4 Opel Corsa 327,717 -2% 333,622 5
5 Opel Astra 327,458 7% 306,152 7
6 Ford Focus 308,747 6% 292,348 8
7 Renault Clio 304,106 -13% 348,921 4
8 Renault Megane 251,487 -8% 272,612 9
9 Peugeot 207 245,649 -21% 310,827 6
10 VW Passat 245,110 43% 170,876 20
11 Fiat Punto 220,343 -17% 266,553 10
12 Nissan Qashqai 216,970 0% 215,982 13
13 Fiat Panda 189,527 -20% 236,323 11
14 Skoda Octavia 186,440 0% 186,994 16
15 Citroen C3 181,868 -21% 230,140 12
16 Mercedes C Class 178,345 17% 151,848 25
17 BMW 3 Series 166,860 -11% 187,623 14
18 Skoda Fabia 165,259 2% 162,207 23
19 Seat Ibiza 162,631 3% 157,610 24
20 Audi A4 162,085 -6% 173,069 19

You can see the entire Top 318 best-selling models in Europe in 2011 here 

Outside the Top 20, great performers include the BMW 5 Series, up 30% and 12 ranks to #24, the Dacia Duster landing directly at #26 with 141,961 units, and the Opel Meriva up 22% and 8 spots to #32. Notice the Nissan Juke up to #39 for its first full year of sales.

Other great performers this year in Europe include the Audi A1 at #42
the Peugeot 508 at #48
the Alfa Romeo Giulietta up 138% to #56
Kia Sportage up 131% to #69,
Mini Countryman up 335% to #83
and Lexus CT landing directly at #161 and by far best-selling Lexus for its first year in market.
Fully electric cars make a discreet appearance in this year’s ranking but 2012 should see some of them really take off: the Mitsubishi i is #250 with 2,608 sales, followed by the Peugeot iOn at #258 with 1,926 units, the Citroen C-Zero at #260 and 1,830 sales, the Nissan Leaf at #264 with 1,726 units and the Opel Ampera at #304 and 304 sales.

The DR Motor DR1 manufactured in Italy (in fact a rebadged Chery Riich G1) is once again the best-selling Chinese model in Europe but it has lost its spark at #259 with 1,886 units, down 40%.

Let’s conclude this article by observing that the Lamborghini Aventador sells its very first 63 units over the continent to rank #310.

You can see 2010’s Top 371 best-selling models in Europe here:

Previous year: Europe 2011 All-models Top 371 ranking (source JATO)

Now for the usual golden nugget: those who have read up to here, I thank you profusely but you must be wondering where the heck is the best-selling car in the world, the Toyota Corolla? Yes I have kept the suspense up till the end. Well. Fact is when the Corolla hatchback was renamed Auris for the European market for the launch of the 11th generation 2007, it took most of the sales as the Corolla sedan has never been a favourite in Europe… Result: the Corolla is only #129 in Europe with a bit over 26,000 sales! Pretty lame…

There. You are now an expert in all things European cars…

Till next week dear readers! Thanks for listening.

Source: Automotive News. I need to thank Tuga and Lancia Lover for sharing the data.

Note 1: The 2010 figures beyond the Top 50 are calculated based on the 2011/2010 variation in percentages, therefore the exact sales number for 2010 may be slightly different.

Note 2: The Top 318 list is incomplete and doesn’t account for absolutely all models sold in Europe in 2011. If you have sales data for any additional model in the whole of Europe please make sure to get in touch by commenting on here!

Note 3: This ranking includes sales from the 27 European Union countries minus Bulgaria and Malta, plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey.

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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18 Comments on “The Top 318 Best Selling Cars in Europe (Hint: The Corolla is nowhere to be seen)...”

  • avatar

    Camry sales are even more interesting (as in no official sales). What is missing is a list of the European kei cars (like the Renault Twizy) because Ligier made almost 6000 cars in 2009

  • avatar

    I like how the peugeot plates say “hi ma”.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Corolla does well in just about everywhere it is sold, I guess Europeans don’t put reliability very high on their decision in buying a car.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota is just not that big in Europe. Also the class in which the Corolla belongs is not that big in Europe

      • 0 avatar

        “Also the class in which the Corolla belongs is not that big in Europe”
        Was that an April Fools joke?

        The top selling cars in Europe are always the Golf & Focus – same C segment as a Corolla…

    • 0 avatar

      Europeans only buy Caucasian brands.

      • 0 avatar

        Lets clear up some misconceptions – first Europeans do buy non-Caucasian cars. Hyundai/Kia have a combined market share greater than Honda/Toyota. Even those the Japanese have been established longer in Europe. They don`t sell well not because of latent racism.

        Second, the Corolla is the same size as the Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze, both of which are sold in Europe (and are comparable to their namesakes in the US). The Toyota version is the Auris and they keep changing the name because of poor sales. Much like GM did with their compacts pre-Cruze.

    • 0 avatar

      Europeans do not buy small sedans in any sort of number. And given that reliability is the ONLY appealing aspect of the Corolla, even in the US market, it is a wonder they sell a single one of them in Europe. And realistically, ALL new cars are pretty reliable these days – they are generally not going to leave you stranded on the side of the road. A light may come on, and you have it dealt with at the next servicing.

      I don’t understand why anyone buys Corollas in the US – if you simply must have a dull Japanese econobox, the Civic is infinitely better.

    • 0 avatar

      “Corolla does well in just about everywhere it is sold, I guess Europeans don’t put reliability very high on their decision in buying a car.”

      We do. And our automobiles are very reliable which is the reason we continue to buy them.

  • avatar

    I think that Audi A1 would kick serious Mini butt if it were sold in the US.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    A Corolla in Europe is like a mid-size in the US, a Camry is a large and so forth.

  • avatar


    I don’t want to defend the Corolla, but TTAC is forcing me to.

    the reason why the Corolla isn’t on the list? Because it is NOT called the Corolla in Europe, but the Auris. That name change ocurred a couple of years ago.

    The Auris is on the list, at 43.

  • avatar

    The link to the full 318 doesn’t work.

  • avatar

    Question: How much, if any, of Japanese “underperformance” in Europe can be chalked up to import tariffs and EU non-tariff barriers? These are presumably a lot stiffer than those in America, which I imagine hurts Honda and Toyota in the “bang for your buck” department? Or in other words, the Corolla is the same car in Paris or Peoria, but it’s more of a “bargain” in the latter?

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