Over two million new cars were sold in Britain in 2012, which at an increase of 5.3 per cent on the previous year represented the biggest rise since 2001.
New figures revealed it was the highest total of new vehicles sold since 2008. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) put the improvement in sales down to strong consumer demand.
A total of 2,044,609 new cars were sold in the last 12 months, with the final month of 2012 seeing a 3.7 per cent increase on December 2011.
The honour of last year's best-selling car again belonged to the Ford Fiesta with over 109,000 sales. That figure was some way ahead of the Vauxhall Corsa (89,434), Ford Focus (83,115) and Vauxhall Astra (63,023). The Focus was the highest seller in December, giving it hope for 2013, but the Fiesta has been dominant since 2009.
The top 10 was completed by the VW Golf (62,021), Nissan Qashqai (45,675), BMW 3 Series (44,521), VW Polo (41,901), Mercedes C-Class (37,261) and BMW 1 Series (34,488).
The healthy sales figures in 2012 came on the heels of a 12.9 per cent rise in private demand for new cars. However, the new car market was still 14.9 per cent under the 2007 total of 2.4 million sales, as it continued its recovery from recession.
"More than two million new cars were registered in the UK during 2012, up 5.3 per cent on the previous 12 months and the best result since recession struck in 2008," said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.
"Boosted by strong consumer demand, the market grew at its fastest rate for 11 years with innovative, fuel-efficient cars keeping buyers in showrooms."
There was a record 50.8 per cent market share for diesel cars in 2012, with sales topping the one-million mark. Meanwhile, 978,000 petrol vehicles were sold.
Alternative fuel vehicles experienced a market share high of 1.4 per cent. Sales were up 9.4 per cent to almost 28,000 in 2012.
In terms of private sales of new cars, there was a 106,000 increase to 929,000, while fleet sales were up by 0.6 per cent on its way past one million. On the flip side, business sales decreased by 9.5 per cent to under 90,000.
Mr Everitt said 2013 would be "challenging" but expects the market to hold firm, with manufacturers and dealers "working hard to deliver quality and value to motorists".
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