April UK new car sales rose 4.3% to 170,163 units while year to date volume was up 3.1% to 858,639.

Trade group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) noted that April 2006 was, however, a weak market, down 9.1% compared to April 2005, and that the 2007 performance was also 12,863 units less than the 1999-2006 average for the month of 183,026 units.

It added that 2007 growth appears broad based - with private and fleet/business demand improving, despite fears over possible interest rate rises. New models and attractive offers are enticing motorists into showrooms and SMMT has revised its full year forecast up to 2.335m units, although this still suggests a "modest" fall in 2007.

"April has provided us with yet another boost to new car registrations, continuing the better than expected trend during the first quarter of 2007. Supermini growth of 11.3% has helped to achieve this,' said SMMT CEO Christopher Macgowan. "Private demand rose too, but heightened speculation that further interest rate rises are on the horizon may tame this performance."

Diesel car registrations rose (9.8%) for the third time this year and growth was again more than double the market average. Diesel penetration in April rose from 37.1% last year to 39.0% in 2007. Ford's Focus remained the best selling diesel model, and the best-selling car overall.

Diesel registrations have risen by 25,107 units over the first four months of the year (to 330,635) and the full year forecast has been raised, with diesel penetration expected to average 40% over 2007.