The archetypal UK ‘Mondeo Man#; may be a dying breed in car sales terms* but that did not stop UK car retailers reducing prices widely during May, according to independent price monitor CarPriceCheck.

New car transaction prices for the month compared with April showed an average fall of 1.16% with fierce competition in the large family class dominated by the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall (Opel) Vectra forcing much of the pace.

Data showed that prices fell for 61% of the models in this segment by an average of 1.59%.

French rivals Renault and Citroen, whose Laguna and C5 dropped 2.9% and 2.18% respectively, recorded the biggest price cuts. Other prime movers were Vauxhall#;s about-to-be-replaced Vectra, down 1.8%, and Nissan#;s redesigned Primera, down 1.67% on average.

Ironically, forecourt prices for the market-leading Mondeo remained relatively static, but Ford itself improved discounts via its direct sales channel on 48 models by just under 1%.

For the first time since October 2000, average transaction prices fell in all market segments.

The continued success of superminis like the Renault Clio and Peugeot 206 helped edge prices down by 0.67% in May compared to April.

Also of note were the improved discounts amongst ‘small family#; models like the Citroen Xsara and new Fiat Stilo, where prices were down by 1.43% on average.

Movement in the people carrier (minivan) segment was also healthy with prices down by 1.51% for models like the Renault Espace and Vauxhall Zafira.

“After two months of price rises, we#;ve seen the fluidity of the new car market yet again,” said CarPriceCheck chief executive Steve Evans.

“It#;s no surprise though that the falls have come against a background of positive pressure from [independent importers of UK-specification cars from Europe] to keep prices keen on the forecourt - over 32,000 people, or one in 20, opted to buy from [Europe] in the first quarter of the year.

“A more open market has started to benefit the consumer.”

CarPriceCheck recently noted that car buyers choosing to purchase, from a UK supplier, a model which is also being offered by an importer, will save an average of £218 more than if the supplier has no competition from continental Europe.

* Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) data shows that the market share taken by large family cars (i.e. upper medium/segment D) has fallen nearly 5% during the past five years while superminis#; share rose by the same amount.