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The UK's new car market got off to a positive start in January, with 169,679 new car registrations recorded, reaching an 11-year high.

Data released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) shows that new registrations climbed 2.9% compared with the same month in 2015, and the highest since January 2005 which saw 181,474 new cars registered.

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Ford's Fiesta is fighting to be the best-selling car for the eighth year in a row, and have set the benchmark with the highest number of new cars bought (8,353) in the first month of the year.

Best sellers:

  1. Ford Fiesta - 8,353
  2. Nissan Qashqai - 4,839
  3. Vauxhall Corsa - 4,803
  4. Ford Focus - 4,285
  5. Volkswagen Golf - 3,813
  6. Nissan Juke - 3,446
  7. Volkswagen Polo - 3,298
  8. Audi A3 - 3,227
  9. Vauxhall Astra 3,185
  10. Mercedes-Benz C-Class - 3,022

Private and business buyers drove January's growth with demand for new cars up by 8.2% to 73,061 and 5% to 6,716 units respectively. The month marks the highest number of new cars registered to private buyers in January in 12 years. However, the fleet sector declined slightly by 1.1 to 89,901.

Alternative fuel vehicles saw a huge rise in popularity, with registrations up by 32.1% Petrol hybrids showed the largest growth - up 44.1% to 3,783 cars, while plug-in hybrid demand grew 32.3% to 1,592 vehicles and pure electric cars enjoyed a rise of 14.1 to 584 unites. Demand for diesel, which just retained the majority market share, remained stable, up 0.6%, while petrol registrations grew 3.7%. These figures come as no surprise with the electric (plug-in) car grant set to be reduced from March 1.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "January's solid performance puts the new car sector in a good position to start the year. Providing consumer confidence remains strong, we expect a more stable 12 months ahead, broadly similar to 2015 which was, of course a record year."

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The record for total new car registrations in a year was smashed in 2015, with 2,663,503 registered new cars making their way on to UK roads.

Andy Barratt, Ford of Britain chairman and managing director, said: "Ford's strong sales start to 2016 builds on the momentum evident in 2015 and is a direct result of continued investment in exciting products and industry-leading technologies."

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