But the news wasn't so good for Land Rover, Vauxhall and Bentley.
Several British car brands are celebrating after vehicle registration figures revealed solid growth in 2018.
Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that the new car market in the UK shrank by almost seven percent last year, with the number of new cars registered falling by more than 173,000 compared with 2017.
However, hidden in the figures were crumbs of comfort for several British marques, which bucked the trend with solid growth.
MG was the biggest winner of all, seeing sales and market share more than double. In 2017, the newly resuscitated, Chinese-owned brand registered a total of 4,441 vehicles in the UK. Fast forward 12 months, and the number topped 9,000.
Daniel Gregorious, head of sales and marketing at MG Motor UK, said the brand was proud of its growth, but still had more to do.
“We’re very proud of our achievements in 2018, and we’re delighted to be confirmed as the UK’s fastest growing car manufacturer,” he said. “2019 will be another very exciting year for MG, as we continue to expand our dealer network and launch some brilliant new products including our very first battery electric vehicle.”
Supercar manufacturer McLaren also enjoyed strong growth, with sales up by more than 10 percent on 2017. Because of the niche products built by the Woking-based company, that equates to an increase of just 59 units, but the firm points out that global sales were up by more than 40 percent – an increase of almost 1,500 cars.
“Record sales highlight what a momentous year 2018 was for McLaren Automotive when over 4,800 cars left our Production Centre,” said McLaren’s CEO Mike Flewitt. “That compares to 1,650 in 2015, showing the remarkable expansion in just three years.”
“We believe we’re well-placed in 2019 with a global market spread and diverse product portfolio. Our optimism is buoyed by the fact that we already have strong order banks into this year and exciting product lined up.”
Perhaps most impressive of all, however, was the four-percent growth posted by Jaguar. The Coventry-based brand has struggled in recent years, but 2018 saw 1,475 more cars registered than in 2017.
The news wasn’t all good for Britain, though, with Bentley’s sales falling by more than 12 percent and Vauxhall registrations down by more than nine percent. Land Rover registrations were down, too, falling by almost six percent, although the company still managed to increase its market share from 3.25 percent to 3.29 percent.
Norfolk-based Lotus, meanwhile, saw sales fall by more than 11 percent, although the brand’s small-volume production means that only equated to around 30 cars. It was a similar story for Aston Martin, which saw sales fall by just over one percent, or the equivalent of 16 units.
Workers in some British factories might also be worried by the 32 percent drop in sales suffered by Nissan or Ford’s 11 percent drop, but those employed by BMW, Honda and Toyota may be slightly more encouraged by those companies’ relatively small reductions. With those three companies posting sales drops of less than three percent, they remained well ahead of the general curve and increased their market shares.
Overall in the UK, Ford retained its dominance at the top of the sales charts. The Fiesta supermini retained its place at the top of the table, outselling its nearest rival – the Volkswagen Golf – by more than 31,000 units.
To demonstrate just how big a gap that is, the tenth best-selling car of the year was the Kia Sportage, which sold 35,567 units.
Ford also did well with the Focus, which made it into the top five best-selling models despite the arrival of a new version, which can often cause supply bottlenecks and a slowdown in sales.
Finally, the Blue Oval’s Kuga SUV slipped into ninth place to become the country’s second-favourite SUV, behind the fourth-placed Nissan Qashqai.
The UK’s top 10 cars of 2018