Used 4x4s are 2012's biggest grower

Sales of used four-by-four vehicles grew by 5.2% last year compared with 2011 - the biggest growth in the used car sales industry.

The four-by-four which proved the most popular was the Land Rover Freelander, with a sales rise of 4.5%.

This came at the same time as a drop in sales of used MPVs, according to research by Experian.

The 'supermini' - or small car - was knocked off the top of the best selling used car chart for the first time since 2007, by a lower medium model.

The Ford Fiesta was replaced by the Ford Focus as 2012's best selling used car, statistics showed.

Small vehicles - the Vauxhall Corsa or Ford Fiesta - have been dominant in the used car market as top sellers since they took the top spot from the lower medium segment six years ago.

The used Ford Focus, however, made its way back up to the top spot with a sales increase of 4.5% during 2012, which knocked the Fiesta in to second place, with third place going to the Vauxhall Corsa.

This is even though both models saw more than a 1% rise in sales last year.

Used hybrid cars also had a successful 2012, as sales rose by 47% in 2012, with the Toyota Prius seeing a 35% rise in sales that year.

In the regions, Experian showed that the country still has divisions, as those in the North of England and Scotland prefer to purchase Vauxhalls.

In comparison, the most popular brand in Wales, the South East, South West, West Midlands and East Anglia was Ford.

The only region which bucked the trend was Greater London, with its love for prestige cars continuing. Some 26,579 BMW 3 Series were sold in this region during 2012, which was a 1.9% drop in 2011's figure, when 27,106 were sold.

Experian Automotive in the UK and Ireland's principal consultant Andrew Ballard said the latest analysis indicated that the 4x4 may be gaining weight in the family market as the MPV saw a drop in sales for the first time in over seven years.

The significant growth in sales of dual fuel cars and, in particular the Toyota Prius, shows that motorists are increasingly keen to make greener choices with more of these models now in the used car market.

"By optimising their mix of stock to reflect changes in market trends and regional preferences, dealers can ensure they are in the best possible position to maximise all sales opportunities and meet customer demand," Mr Ballard said.

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