Australians bought 97,267 new motor vehicles in March, down fractionally on March 2013's tally of 97,400. Year to date volume was 266,370 versus 273,048 a year ago.

Releasing the VFACTS data, FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said large cars were a popular choice in March 2014, with purchases of large passenger cars up 24.5%, and large SUVs up 9.7% compared to March 2013.

"Smaller sized car sales slowed in March, following strong sales throughout 2013. Sales in the micro passenger car segment dropped 15.8% compared to the same month in 2013. Light passenger car sales fell 10.9% and small passenger car sales fell 4%," Weber said.

The Toyota Corolla was the top selling car last month with 4,086 sales. The Mazda 3 (3,587), Toyota Hilux (3,105), GM Holden Commodore (2,967) and Hyundai i30 (2,767) followed. 

Toyota was the top selling brand with 18,275 sales followed by Holden (9,851), Mazda (9,203), Hyundai (8,606) and Ford (7,037).

Toyota Australia's executive director sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, said the company and its dealers had worked hard to lift market share this year to 18% and push for a 12th consecutive year of market leadership.

"With the arrival of the new-generation Kluger [Highlander, now built in the US instead of Japan - ed] just a few weeks ago, Toyota now has the most up to date family in the burgeoning SUV market," Cramb said.