Toyota's Aqua (Prius c) hybrid hatchback became Japan's best-selling car for the first time in fiscal year 2012, replacing the long-established Prius hybrid hatchback series, number one for the past three years.

The company sold 282,660 Aquas in the fiscal year which ended 31 March. Prius came second, with 280,929 units, down 9.5% year on year, according to the Japan Automobile Dealers and the Japan Mini Vehicles Association.

Reflecting the popularity of fuel-efficient compact cars and minivehicles, Honda’s N Box minicar was third with 236,287 sales.

In March alone, the Aqua's sales rose 15.6% from a year earlier to 33,693, becoming the best-selling car for the sixth month in a row. Minivehicles accounted for 10% of the market during the month.