British car buyers have confounded the gloom in the rest of the economy by staying stronger than expected in March.Expectations of a downturn had seen industry forecasters underestimate the appeal of the new registration. UK buyers defied expectations to buy 451,642 new cars last month – a 0.5% increase on March 2007. It was a particularly happy Easter for Ford, as results showed the Focus regained its position as the best selling model in the UK. The Fiesta was also highly placed as supermini registrations rose 4.3% – reflecting an increasing demand for small, low cost cars. Nissan and Smart were amongst the other brands that did well.The figures also revealed British consumers continuing to make the switch to diesel and alternative fuels. Diesel cars took a 41.9% market – up from 38.4% a year ago. The Toyota Prius became a top seller in its field, and helped ensure that alternative fuelled vehicles sales were up 14.7% for March.This month will see the SMMT review its forecast of 2.34million new car sales for 2008. Despite the market’s current resilience, the industry will almost certainly remain cautious of an anticipated drop in consumer spending.