FiestaFord

The Ford Fiesta continues to be the most popular car in Britain after topping the 2012 sales chart, a position it has held since 2009.

The manufacturer's small car sold 109,256 units last year, compared to the Vauxhall Corsa in second place with 89,434 units and the Ford Focus in third position with 83,115.

The remaining top ten includes the Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf, Nissan Qashqai, BMW 3-Series, VW Polo, Mercedes C-Class and BMW 1-Series.

New figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that UK new car registrations rose 5.3 per cent in 2012 to 2,044,609 the highest annual volume since 2008 and the largest percentage increase since 2001.

However, the new car market was still 14.9 per cent below 2007, pre-recession, when 2.4m units were sold.

Carmakers that increased sales dramatically in 2012 include Chrysler with a 182 per cent rise from 1,182 units in 2011 to 3,333 last year and SsangYong which rose by 351 per cent from 194 vehicles to 875.

Faring less well was Alfa Romeo which dropped by 37 per cent in 2012 from 11,563 in the previous year to 7,253 while Renault fell by 40 per cent from 68,449 cars in 2011 to 40,760 in 2012 – an unsurprising figure, considering the French brand pulled a number of its models including the Laguna from the UK market last year.

"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 Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

"Boosted by strong consumer demand, the market grew at its fastest rate for 11 years with innovative, fuel-efficient cars keeping buyers in showrooms. Looking ahead to 2013, we anticipate the market will hold firm, with manufacturers and dealers working hard to deliver quality and value to motorists."