VW Golf is Europe’s best-selling model for fourth consecutive year image

The Volkswagen Golf was Europe’s best-selling model in 2011, ranking first for the fourth straight year, according to data from JATO Dynamics.

Although Golf sales fell 2 percent to 484,547 units last year, the compact car kept its No. 1 spot. The sixth-generation Golf debuted in 2008 and is nearing the end of its product cycle, with the seventh-generation model to be launched at the Paris auto show in September. The VW Golf has been Europe’s top-selling car seven times since 2000.

The second best-selling car was also a Volkswagen, with the Polo supermini rising above the Ford Fiesta to take second spot. Polo sales rose 1 percent to 356,490 units, while Fiesta sales fell 13 percent to 348,465 units from 401,919 in 2010. Opel/Vauxhall had also two cars in the top 5, with the Corsa supermini fourth followed by the Astra compact.

New-car sales fell 1 percent in Europe last year, as ongoing economic challenges in the euro zone affected consumer spending. Of the region’s five largest markets, only Germany reported growth last year, with sales increasing 9 percent to 3.17 million units. German automakers Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz were also the only brands among those in the top 10 in sales that posted sales growth.