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The top 10 searched for cars in South Africa

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Despite new vehicle sales dropping by 1% from 2017 to 2018, consumers are still following the movements of various car manufacturers and the continued updates they bring to their most popular models. In 2018, 365,246 passenger vehicles were sold, compared to 368,114 in 2017. While a weak economic environment may have hampered sales, South Africans continue to browse the web in search of new and improved vehicles from some of the world’s top vehicle manufacturers.

Looking at the results from Auto Trader's 2018 search data which revealed the top ten most sought after cars in the country, some interesting changes in consumer sentiment were recorded. As some vehicle manufacturers do not report their sales figures, search data is often the most accurate way to report on consumer preferences and search trends.

Below are the top ten most searched cars in the country according to AutoTrader:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  2. Toyota Hilux
  3. Volkswagen Polo
  4. BMW 3 Series
  5. Ford Ranger
  6. Volkswagen Golf
  7. Audi A3
  8. BMW 1 Series
  9. Toyota Fortuner
  10. BMW X5


Popular Models


Having launched the new C-Class halfway through 2018, it’s no doubt why this car took the top spot. A popular model in general, the launch catapulted it into the front of the minds of South African car buyers. The second spot, up from fourth in 2017 goes to the Toyota Hilux. Its move towards this top spot is certainly attributed to its involvement in the 2018 Dakar Rally. As well as being the country’s current top-selling vehicle, it’s no surprise it was the second most searched for a vehicle last year.

With the launch of the new model at the beginning of 2018, the Polo moved from sixth place in 2017, to third in 2018. As one of the country’s most beloved models, its launch was sure to catch consumer attention. According to AutoTrader CEO, George Mienie, “Like the Hilux, it is a South African hallmark. South Africans love this car!” The Volkswagen Golf, which held the third spot in 2017, dropped down to sixth in 2018.

Despite the Mercedes Benz- C-Class being at the top of this list, it did not make the bestseller list for 2018. Volkswagen took the leading two spots with their Polo in the number one spot with 2051 units sold, and the Polo Vivo in at second with 1711 units sold. The Renault Kwid comes in at third with 1354 units sold and the Toyota Fortuner in fourth with 1027 units sold. Neither BMW or Ford made it onto the list. Below are the top ten best selling passenger cars at the end of 2018:


1. Volkswagen Polo – 2 051

2. Volkswagen Polo Vivo – 1 711

3. Renault Kwid – 1 354

4. Toyota Fortuner – 1 027

5. Hyundai Grand i10 – 906

6. Toyota Corolla/Auris/Quest – 858

7. Renault Clio – 775

8. Hyundai i20 – 619

9. Datsun Go – 508

9. Kia Picanto – 508


While South Africans may not be able to replace their vehicles as often as they’d hoped, they certainly haven’t lost their lust for sussing out the latest models making a noise in the industry. If you’re on the hunt for your next set of wheels, the top ten most searched for cars list might not be a bad place to start, just remember that along with a new car comes a number of extra considerations including car insurance.