Motorists bought a record number of new cars last year, industry figures show.
Ford remains the UK's favourite carmaker
A total of 2.58 million new vehicles left the forecourts in 2003, according to the UK wide study by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The record figure was helped by an end of year sales surge, with 155,000 new cars registered in December, a 7% increase on the same month in 2002.
Led by Ford, Vauxhall and Renault, eight foreign makers topped the sales list, with MG Rover in ninth place.
However, MG Rover, the last remaining volume UK producer, saw its sales decrease by 3.3% across 2003 as a whole.
Sales during December were down by 26.6% - or more than a quarter - compared with the same month in 2002.
CAR MAKERS BY MARKET SHARE
1. Ford - 14.69%
2. Vauxhall - 12.66%
3. Renault - 7.34%
4. Peugeot - 7.17%
5. Volkswagen - 6.94%
6. Citroen - 4.56%
6. Toyota - 4.56%
8. Nissan - 4.10%
9. MG-Rover - 3.72%
10. BMW - 3.64%
Demand for diesel
Although Ford topped the UK sales list, the number of cars it sold during the year was still 5.5% lower than 2002's figure.
Korean manufacturer Kia enjoyed the biggest growth sales, rising by 71.5%.
Across all car makers, diesel-powered vehicles are continuing to grow in popularity, posting record sales of 704,637, an increase of 16.9% on 2002.
Christopher Macgowan, SMMT chief executive, said the UK car market had once again outshone the rest of Europe, with sales down across the continent.
"Increased consumer confidence has seen private buyers lead a strong, stable market, reflecting the general economic trend of the country," he said.
BEST SELLING MODELS IN 2003
9. 3 Series
"An ever-growing number of new models boating newly developed technologies, has led to consistent growth over the last decade, with volumes set to remain stable into 2004."
The 2.58m sales figure for 2003 is a 0.6% increase on 2002.