For car buyers, grey is the new black

21 Jan 2019

There are many factors to take into account when buying or leasing a car, from how the vehicle looks and drives to its fuel economy and reliability.

Colour is another important consideration for many motorists, and in 2018, grey was the shade of choice for much of the UK's driving public, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

This is the first time grey has topped the colour popularity charts, taking over from previous favourite black, which was the most common choice in 2017, following four years of dominance for white between 2013 and 2016.

Silver was the UK's most popular new car colour for nine years straight from 2000 to 2008, but last year it didn't even feature in the top five, scoring its lowest popularity rating since the late 1990s.

Overall, nearly half a million grey cars were registered in 2018. The number registered in black fell by 7.3 per cent from 2017 to 478,154 last year

Nearly six out of ten new vehicles were grey, black or white, while blue and red were the third and fourth most popular options.

No primary colour has featured among the top three for eight years. Blue, the most-chosen primary colour in 2018, has seen a steady decline in popularity since it was the favourite for three consecutive years at the end of the 90s.

In another interesting trend highlighted by the SMMT, overall demand for most colours in the top ten was down year-on-year, with the exception of the somewhat unusual options of orange and beige. The number of new cars registered in orange jumped by 37 per cent, while beige enjoyed a 28 per cent boost in popularity.

That meant orange rose to seventh place in the ranking and beige was tenth, making its first appearance in the top ten since 2014.

Here's the list in full, along with the number of registrations in each colour:

1. Grey - 495,127
2. Black - 478,154
3. White - 432,207
4. Blue - 381,591
5. Red - 236,522
6. Silver - 219,840
7. Orange - 26,042
8. Green - 21,167
9. Bronze - 9,690
10. Beige - 9,303

Absences from the 2018 list included cream, which saw the biggest percentage drop of all colours (34 per cent), with only 559 drivers choosing it last year. Yellow was slightly more popular, with nearly 7,000 drivers opting for this sunny shade, but the figure was down by 34 per cent compared to 2017.

The SMMT data also revealed the colours that are most popular for particular cars, with grey the most commonly chosen option for the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall Corsa, MINI and Ford Kuga. Drivers going for the Nissan Qashqai, Volkswagen Polo and Mercedes A-Class were most likely to choose black, while blue was the favoured hue for the Ford Focus.

Local favourites

In an interesting regional trend, Scottish buyers went against the grain and favoured white cars in 2018. Across the UK, white has seen the biggest falls in popularity in recent years.

Grey was the top choice in Northern Ireland and Wales, while blue featured among the top three colours in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

English drivers took full advantage of the range of car colours available last year, opting for 116 of the 118 shades on offer. Compare this to Northern Ireland, where only 53 different colours were registered throughout 2018.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive officer, said: "There are more opportunities than ever to personalise your new car to your exact taste, and UK motorists have approached the challenge with gusto in 2018.

"With around 80 new or upgraded models coming to market in 2019 equipped with the latest low and zero-emission powertrains, advanced safety tech and exciting comfort and convenience features, it's great that buyers have so much to choose from."

Of course, the one downside to choosing a colour for your car is that it's easy to get bored of it once you have spent a few years driving the same vehicle.

If you don't want to commit to a particular make, model or colour for too long, personal car leasing could be the perfect option.

Check out some of the latest leasing offers on cars from leading manufacturers like Ford, Volkswagen and Mercedes.