But February's a traditionally quiet month for sales, ahead of the March registration plate change, and numbers moderated significantly from January's 7.6 per cent increase - and it was always very unlikely 2014 would see the enormous growth 2013 saw (when registrations soared to six-year high of 2.3m).
The number is a “real endorsement” of consumer confidence, said Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes, proving the new car market is still attractive.
We expect the arrival of the new 14-plate and increasing economic confidence to maintain a steady rate of growth.
Between February 2012 and February 2014, the new car market grew 17.4 per cent to 2.28m.
When it came to the most popular models, Minis saw volumes almost double, helped by the arrival of new models.
The Ford Fiesta remained the best-seller, with 4,415 cars sold in Februay and 13,000 over the year.
Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight comments:
The auto industry will clearly be hoping that UK economic activity continues at a healthy clip through 2014 and beyond, and that this underpins consumer and business confidence and their willingness to splash out on new cars. The auto industry will also be hoping that the squeeze on consumers’ purchasing power eases over the coming months