New car registrations for October showed a year-on-year rise of 2.6 per cent, according to the latest figures issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
A total of 134,944 new cars were registered last month, compared to 131,495 in October 2010.
This was almost seven per cent ahead of the SMMT's forecast for the month, although sales remain almost 20 per cent lower than the pre-recession era of 2007.
Healthy sales of superminis buoyed the market. The supermini segment was up 17.4 per cent and the mini segment up 4.7 per cent.
SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt said: "October's rise was a positive result despite the uncertain economic climate. Vehicle manufacturers and their dealer networks are working hard to offer consumers value for money through improved fuel efficiency, low running costs and innovative finance. We expect market conditions to remain challenging."
The Ford Fiesta remained the country's best-seller, amassing 7308 sales, with the Vauxhall Corsa deposing the Focus from second place.
The market is on course to achieve a full year total of 1.923 million new cars, but 2012 is expected to be a challenging year for UK sales.
October's best sellers
1 Ford Fiesta, 7308 units2 Vauxhall Corsa, 63003 Ford Focus, 52034 Volkswagen Golf, 44005 Vauxhall Astra, 41596 BMW 3-series, 36647 Volkswagen Polo, 32898 Vauxhall Insignia, 29239 Nissan Qashqai, 278910 Honda Jazz, 2472