SMMT figures reveal the UK's car industry continues its upward curve, as 518,707 new cars were registered in March 2016

New car sales in the UK in March rose by 5.3% compared with the same month last year, with more than half a million buyers taking advantage of the plate change.

In March - considered the most important month in the year for car sales - 518,707 new cars were registered, only the third time the UK market has surpassed half a million units in a single month, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The Ford Fiesta holds its long-standing reign as the best-selling car, with 23,467 examples sold, making its mark way ahead of second-place Vauxhall Corsa with 17,368 units.

Third place went to the Ford Focus with 14,002 cars sold, while its closest rival, the Volkswagen Golf, came fourth on 13,041.

The remaining top 10 best sellers, in descending order, were the Volkswagen Polo (10,279 units), Vauxhall Astra (9953), Mini (8915), Fiat 500 (8304) and Audi A3 (8200).

Alternative-fuel vehicles also jumped by more than a fifth over the same period last year, despite recent changes to the government’s plug-in grant that mean some car buyers opting for alternative-fuel vehicles have received smaller subsidies. With an increase of 21.5%, consumers showed there is growing demand for alternative-fuel vehicles.

Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

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Registrations of both diesel and petrol cars were also on the up, with respective increases of 4.8% and 4.7%.

The overall rise of 5.3% in March closely reflected the first quarter of the year, which grew by 5.1% over the same period in 2015, with 771,780 new cars sold.

Highlights for manufacturers include Jaguar, which posted a 45% increase in sales on the same month last year, with 5659 models sold, while BMW rose by 21%, selling 32,470 cars.

It was a bad month for Citroën, which dropped by 18% in March versus last year, selling 13,734 cars, and Mitsubishi, which fell by 23% with 4340 sales.

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Comments
5

6 April 2016
Bit of factchecking wouldn't hurt: The Citroen monthly sales are WITHOUT 3500 DS models. Last year these 2 were combined.

All in all: Cit + DS slighlty improved over 2015.

RickM, Wheelman

6 April 2016
Shame the SMMT won't reveal ALL the data from the DVLA, which is publically funded by the way, for all models unless you pay for it!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

289

6 April 2016
It would be good to see a pre-reg report, in order to see what percentage of this 'record number' is genuine!

Just to balance the article Autocar.

6 April 2016
Do these figures include motability registrations?

6 April 2016
Do these figures include motability registrations?

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Our Verdict

Ford Fiesta
Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

The seventh-generation Ford Fiesta is the UK's best selling car, helped by frugal engines, handling verve and a big car feel

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week