Unless a series of global quakes knock out its various plants, Ford’s Fiesta will be Britain’s most wanted motor for 2013, outpacing stablemate Focus and Vauxhall’s Corsa, in third spot, by a country mile.
Clearly what we love is modest wheels supplied by a reliable brand that promises neither to over-excite (sans ST badging) or terrify. Think of the Fiesta less as a horse you have a hunch on and more the Tote: a safe prospect that won’t bite back.
And in that analysis there lies the germ of what makes Brits tick – in fact, our current top five choices of car show that more than ever we now want reliability – driving dreams can wait for another day.
But what of other key car markets around the world? Join us for a quick forecast of key global winners for 2013 and find out what they say about their customers.
1. China – Volkswagen Lavida, from £12,700
With a sales pie nearing 7.5 million units a year, China obviously can’t be ignored – though many makers are snoozing while Chinese brands build huge markets across Africa (and they’re even building the roads for customers to drive them on).
Within China, not all European brands are missing out on the mass-market potential.
While Jaguar Land Rover and their premium likes go flat out to match demand from the new monied class, Volkswagen is enjoying best-seller status with the Lavida, a model that’s surprisingly not as cheap as you might guess, despite being a China-only product and, er, looking like a Passat sent through a 3D printer with a fuzzy connection.
2. India – Suzuki Swift DZire, from £5,538
It’s already India’s hottest take away in May and, backed by the huge momentum Suzuki Maruti has in the subcontinent, the DZire is destined for top spot.
Based on the new Swift, but with a boot, it’s a 1.2-litre petrol with a 1.3-litre diesel option.
Early punter reviews include such remarks as “CD occupies unnecessary lot of leg space”.
Maybe the driver was attempting to exceed the passenger quota – apparently a popular pastime in India.
3. USA – Honda Accord, from £14,047
If you want to be taken seriously in a US bar autochat, you need to use the term “mid-size” a lot.
America’s four best selling mid-size (or D segment over here) models are also its four top sellers nationwide.
Toyota’s Camry has been holding onto top spot for a while, but some successful attacks by Honda’s Accord tempt me to tip it as 2013’s winner.
Are Americans downsizing? Kind of, but not convincingly: we’re talking Mondeo measurements here.
60 per cent of America’s top 10 are now non-US brands, with Ford currently butted out of the top three.
4. Australia – Toyota Corolla, from £12,029
With 1.2 million sales so far and rising, Toyota’s latest Corolla is marching fast on the top accolade for sales down under.
It’s proof that our Aussie cousins aren’t as hung-up about size as USA’s drivers, despite the breadth of their road network. You’d think there’d be a diesel option though – there isn’t, the range being just a 1.8-litre petrol choice.
Toyota Australia is reported as stating diesels are “good for trucks and SUVs, but not passenger cars”.
Throw another outdated prejudice on the barbie, you grommets.
5. Greece – Toyota Yaris, from £10,190
As you might imagine, it’s not much fun on the forecourts around Athens, let alone the farthest flung reaches of the country where roads were invented (along with the word ‘apocalypse’).
Sales so far in 2013 are 35 per cent down year on year. As much as it matters for its accountants back in Tokyo, the Toyota Yaris is the most likely car to grab the laurels for 2013, with, er, 389 sales so far and counting (but maybe not counting much more).
The Yaris is sensible and compact, but certainly not a punishing car in terms of creature comforts. Clearly the Greeks are being sensible, but steering clear of masochism.
6.Italy – Fiat Panda, from £8,831
With the market down eleven per cent so far this year against 2012, we’re seeing something that hasn’t apparently happened in Italy for 16 years, namely a resurgence of nationalism in the nation’s buying habits.
Perhaps the chill wind of austerity blowing from the east is finally teaching Italians that charity, as well as car buying, begins at home?
Top spot belongs to – no prizes for guessing – the Fiat Panda, which is a cute but pragmatic choice.
It’s a small car to fit a cavalry into, and won’t hurt the wallet either.