UK new car registrations hit an all-time record high in 2015, pushing through the 2.6 million mark for the first time.

According to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a total of 2,633,503 were registered during 2015, beating the previous record of 2,579,050 set in 2003.

Fleets accounted for exactly 50% of the market, with 45.9% going to private buyers and businesses mopping up the remaining 4.1%.

The market share held by diesels took a hit, possibly as a result of the dieselgate scandal, slumping from 50.1% in 2014 down to 48.5%, 0.3% behind petrol. However, in absolute numbers terms, sales of diesels grew 3.0%.

Alternative fuel vehicle registrations exploded in 2015, growing a whopping 40.3% and now accounting for 2.8% of the market. Registrations of pure electric vehicles doubled.

The year ended strongly with 180,077 new cars being registered in December, an increase of 8.4% on the same period in 2014. Whole-year sales in 2015 grew 6.3% over the total in 2014.

SMMT Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, said:  “The new car market defied expectations in 2015, hitting an all time record driven by strong consumer and business confidence. Buyers took advantage of attractive finance deals and low inflation to secure some of the most innovative, high tech and fuel efficient vehicles ever produced. The past four years have seen a remarkable period of sustained growth, and the outlook remains positive with every reason to expect the market to hold broadly steady in 2016.”

There are few surprises among 2015’s top ten best-selling cars. The Ford Fiesta takes the top spot for the 12th time, over 40,000 units ahead of the second-placed Vauxhall Corsa. The appearance of the Audi A3 at number eight shows how much UK buyers like smaller premium cars, while the Vauxhall Mokka’s tenth place shows how effective strong finance deals can be.

Click through the gallery below to see the full top ten.

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By Only Motors