The people of the UK are a complicated lot! Deep down, we may share similar priorities: to look after our families, contribute to a friendly neighbourhood, and eat our fish and chips on a Friday night. But head to Keighley or Kingston-Upon-Thames, Dumfries, Denbigh, or Donaghadee, and you’ll find little differences that give every region a unique flavour.
It’s a culture thing. Nuances in the way you talk, dress, do business, and even what time you have your tea (or dinner!) give away clues about where you are from. But does the car you drive have anything to say about your roots?
We reckon the answer is yes – your choice of car may indicate the region of the UK that you come from. To back up our theory, we analysed data on UK car leases and sales from the Department for Transport to see which makes and models of vehicles are unusually popular in different parts of the country.
What do we mean by ‘unusually popular’? Well, wherever you’re from, you are likely to see plenty of Ford Fiestas on the street. The most common cars in the UK are fairly consistent across the union. Instead, we decided to identify cars that may not be the most popular in a given region, but are far more popular in one place than in others.
We calculated a ratio for each of the most common cars in every region, compared to the rest of the country. For example, we found the unofficial car of London to be the Mercedes E Class (fancy!), with a ratio of 2.04 – meaning that you are around twice as likely to drive a Merc in London as you are in the rest of the country (on average).
Are you from an Audi area or are you more of a Skoda Fabia person? Read on and check out our visualizations of the (un)official car of every region in the UK to find out!
The Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is targeting Europe with the latest model of their muscular Juke SUV – and they’re starting in Sunderland. Nissan claims one million Juke fans across the continent. There is no shortage of them to be found in England’s North East, where the car is 1.72 times as popular as the UK average.
The Toyota Yaris is a highly-rated subcompact and is driven by 27% more people in the North West than in the UK in general. The name Yaris comes from the Greek mythological figures of the Charites, or ‘graces.’ Do Scousers consider the Yaris to be the fourth ‘grace’ of Liverpool? More likely the people of the North West identify with the charm and beauty that the Charites (and the Toyota Yaris) embody.
Yorkshire and Humberside? More like Torqueshire and Humberside, am I right? The Skoda Fabia’s 1.2 HTP (High Torque Performance) engine promises drivers the kind of fuel economy that really talks to a Yorkshire dweller’s heart! Or maybe it’s the famous Fabia ‘cake’ advert that gets the region drooling for this supermini. Anyway, this once-unpopular car brand is now 1.27 times more loved in Yorkshire & Humberside than elsewhere.
The East Midlands: the source of Britain’s Red Leicester, Lincolnshire sausage, Melton Mowbray pork pie, Stilton cheese, and Bakewell tart. No wonder East Midlanders like a car with a lot of boot space – that’s a spectacular big shop by anyone’s standards. The Ford Mondeo is a sturdy, serious, no-nonsense modern classic of suburbia, and it has plenty of room for all your shopping.
There may be plenty of places to drive off-road in the West Midlands, but it seems like the popularity of the Range Rover is more due to the Jaguar Land Rover factories in Solihull, Coventry, and Castle Bromwich. The region’s most unusually popular car was developed at the Solihull site in the 1960s and will celebrate its fiftieth birthday in 2020.
Fancy a touch of Turin – in Thurrock? The unofficial car of Britain’s east counties (including Essex, Hertfordshire, and Norfolk) is the Fiat 500, a nice little motor originally designed to complement the rise in urban living. This two-door style classic is more than a fashion item, and is as nifty as it is convenient – hence its newfound popularity since being relaunched in 2007.
The sleek and luxurious Mercedes-Benz E-Class begins a hair’s width below £40k brand new. It is no big surprise that it is a common sight on the streets of London, as the E-Class is the executive car of choice for many a company dealing with chauffeur-driven rides (and a fair few upwardly-mobile Uber drivers, too).
England’s South East: it’s all picture-perfect nuclear families and high house prices, right? Well, the local chariot of choice – the Audi A4 – suggests that while this may be the start of the story, there is a certain longing for freedom within those green and pleasant lands. The A4 is as sporty as it is serious, and its curves are as impressive as its boot capacity.
Cheddar cheese, cream teas, and Cornish pasties. Golden beaches and green meadows. Naturally, the South West of the UK has a car to match: the comfortable Honda Jazz with the “deceptively spacious interior.” The Jazz is equally happy in town or on Cornwall’s narrow, rolling hill roads. And it has more-than-adequate space for those lining their own “deceptively spacious interior” with the bounty of the South West’s kitchen.
What is Wales best known for? Poetry? Rugby? Tom Jones? Are the three concepts really so separate? The country’s unofficial car is the Renault Clio, which combines all three of these Welsh assets. Like poetry, the Clio is sweet and soulful. It is robust and nimble enough to go head-to-head with Gareth Thomas. And it’s a little bit sexy. (If “it’s not unusual”, the Clio is at least unusually popular in Wales.)
Scots love Vauxhalls. More than one in ten new cars in Scotland bears the famous griffin emblem. And around a quarter of the Vauxhalls sold in Scotland in 2018 were of the Corsa variety. What is the appeal? The Corsa makes the perfect compromise for families who need a roomy car that is nimble enough to thread through the narrow, meandering roads of the Highlands – and can manage those hills without getting your kilt in a flap.
The region with the most unusually popular car is Northern Ireland, where they drive 2.17 times as many Volkswagen Passats as the rest of the UK. The latest models are either hybrids or have vastly improved fuel efficiency, as befits a country trying hard to live up to its green image. The Passat will also be the first VW to have semi-autonomous technology, making Northern Ireland the geographic and technological Westworld of the UK motor industry.
The (un)official cars of every region
Now you’ve seen them one-by-one, here is a handy table showing the most distinctive ‘unusually popular’ cars in every region of the UK – the cars whose popularity deviates most dramatically from the national average.
The best-selling cars in the UK
By way of context, here’s a chart showing the most popular cars across the UK. So, it turns out we’re a nation of hatchbacks! And, as mentioned above, the Ford Fiesta is our ruling motor. The Fiesta is simple and durable enough for young drivers to start out in one as a rite of passage. But the newer models have the features and versatility to work for families and businesses at a decent price.
The UK is a wide and varied place, and our taste in cars is as diverse as our taste in dog breeds. Did you find your (un)official regional car on our list? And when you travel, will you lease your home region car – or ‘do as the Romans do’ and drive what the locals drive?
We used data provided by the Department for Transport to begin our research. This data listed the top car models sold in the UK by region. With this, we were able to calculate the demand for each vehicle in the UK and its regions. From there we calculated the ratio of each car’s popularity in the UK vs each car’s popularity in each region by comparing the demand of the vehicle in the UK in general, to the demand of the vehicle in each specific region. We then ordered the ratios for each region from greatest to least. The car with the highest ratio in each region was the most unusually popular. Then we had to assign a car to each region. In the case of two regions having the same unusually popular model of car, we decided that the region that had the greatest deviation, where it was most unusually popular, would take that car as its (un)official car, and the other region would move onto to its second-most unusually popular car. This was to ensure that each region had a unique ‘(un)official car’.
All information provided by the Department of Transport - dft.gov.uk
To view the data behind this project, please visit - http://bit.ly/unofficial-car-of-every-region-UK