March car registration figures show industry in rude health

March was the best-ever month for UK new car registrations, and the Ford Fiesta continues its reign at the top of the charts

March’s sales chart has revealed the UK car industry is thriving, with 562,337 new cars registered – a new record. The figures also reveal British buyers are creatures of habit, with the most popular cars in the month almost exactly mirroring the best-selling cars of 2016.

March’s figures account for the vast majority of 2017 sales to date, with just 257,670 cars sold in January and February combined – although the post-Christmas sales slump usually makes these quiet months for dealers.

The arrival of the new road tax system at the start of April is thought to have bolstered the strong figures, with dealers said to be pre-registering cars in large numbers. This would have been done so customers could benefit from the outgoing tax system, which provided tax exemption or low annual rates for scores of low-emissions models. Combine that with the new ‘17’ number plate and it’s fairly clear why dealers had such a bumper month.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes agreed with that assessment, adding: “This bumper performance probably means we will see a slowdown in April, exacerbated by the fact there are fewer selling days this year given Easter timing. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, we still expect the market to cool only slightly given broader political uncertainties as there are still attractive deals on offer.”

As regards the top-selling models, it’s a one-two finish for Ford, with the Fiesta taking the number one spot and he Focus getting silver – though over 25,000 Fiestas found homes last month, making it significantly more popular than its bigger brother, which racked up sales of just over 17,000.

The Corsa comes next, with around 16,000 sales being enough to bag bronze, while the Nissan Qashqai comes in at four and the Vauxhall Astra nets a fifth-place finish.

For the rest of the top 10, check out our regularly updated run-down of the best selling cars in the UK.

Most Popular

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers
Carbuyer best new car deals hero
Deals
1 Mar 2024

Best new car deals 2024: this week’s top car offers

Hot car deal: quirky Nissan Juke hybrid for £172 a month
Nissan Juke dynamic
Deals
26 Feb 2024

Hot car deal: quirky Nissan Juke hybrid for £172 a month

10 smallest cars on sale 2024
smallest cars on sale
Best cars
28 Feb 2024

10 smallest cars on sale 2024

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
19 Dec 2023

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Public EV charge point
Tips and advice
11 Jan 2023

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
12 Apr 2023

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors

Top 10 best electric cars 2024
The best electric cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best electric cars 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024
The best cheap-to-run cars 2023
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024
Fastest hot hatchbacks hero
Best cars
2 Jan 2024

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2024