UK new car sales hit an all-time record last year, the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures show.

The number of new vehicles registered in 2015 came to a 2.63 million total, up about 6% on 2014 and the fourth consecutive year of growth.

A high rate of sales continued right up until the end of the year, with registrations in December believed to have been the best figures on record for that month.

The new record surpasses the previous best of 2.58 million new cars sold in 2003.

Reasons behind the growth in number of new cars on UK roads are believed to be down to stronger consumer confidence, special deals and cheap finance.

The SMMT says that 80% of cars are bought with some form of finance, with around 60% purchased using Personal Contract Payments (PCP).

Consumers have taken advantage of low interest rates and the rise of sterling compared to the euro, making it cheaper to import cars from European countries such as Germany and France.

Although 2015 saw declines in sales for Volkswagen, which makes up for around 20% of British car sales, the emission scandal couldn't prevent enjoying full-year sales rise 4% across all its brands.

The Ford Fiesta was the best selling car across the year, making it seven years in a row. The SMMT say that more than 85% of Ford's showroom sales are on finance plans such as PCP.

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The UK saw the second highest number of new cars registered last year in Europe, with Germany seeing the most with just under three million. Behind the UK are France, followed by Italy and Spain.

2015 best-selling cars:

  • Ford Fiesta - 133,434
  • Vauxhall Corsa - 92,077
  • Ford Focus - 83,816
  • Volkswagen Golf - 73,409
  • Nissan Qashqai - 60,814
  • Volkswagen Polo - 54,900
  • Vauxhall Astra - 52,703
  • Audi A3 - 47,653
  • Mini - 47,076
  • Vauxhall Mokka - 45,399

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