The European car market was up 13.8% to 1.09m units in February, with SUVs again outperforming the overall market according to JATO data.

JATO said the February gain marked the 30th consecutive month of year-on-year growth. The SUV segment continued to rule the market last month, gaining further market share at the expense of more traditional segments. In February, SUV registrations totalled 265,500 units, up by 31% compared to February 2015, and counting for 24.4% of the total European market, JATO said.

Volkswagen remained the leading brand in Europe, with 124,300 units sold. However the German carmaker continued to underperform when compared to the overall market, with year on year growth of just 4%. This was the lowest increase among the top 10 best-selling brands, and the third lowest within the top 20. Its market share dropped from 12.4% in February 2015 to 11.4% as a result, the highest market share drop in the overall brand ranking. All of its closest rivals posted double-digit growth, with Ford, Peugeot and Opel/Vauxhall outperforming the market average. Fiat occupied sixth position, outselling the German premium brands due to outstanding growth of 24%. Most of this came from its Italian operations (+36%), which counted for 61% of its total. The Italian brand posted the highest market share increase in the overall brand ranking. Other big market share winners were Mazda (+0.35 percentage points), Mercedes (+0.28), Honda (+0.26) and Opel/Vauxhall (+0.25).

"Despite the strong growth seen in most of the big markets, Volkswagen wasn't able to tap into growing consumer demand to the same extent as its rivals, who took advantage to claim a bigger share of the market," commented Felipe Munoz, Global Automotive Analyst at JATO Dynamics.

The Volkswagen Golf continued to be Europe's best-selling car, with registrations totalling 36,100 units, a marginal increase of 1% from February 2015. This can in part be explained by a fall in sales in France (-19%) and the UK (-19%), though this was offset by big increases in Italy (+37%) and Germany (+6%).

For the second month in a row, the new Hyundai Tucson was Europe's best performer in terms of market share gain. The Korean compact SUV was the 24th best-selling car in Europe and second-placed C-SUV, ahead of the Volkswagen Tiguan and Renault's Kadjar - the second best improver in terms of market share. The Suzuki Vitara, Fiat 500X, Mercedes GLC and Mazda CX-3 followed as the biggest market share winners. "The trend is clear. The European new-car market double-digit growth rate is being driven by the SUV boom. As mainstream and premium car makers update their compact and large SUVs, their sales are expected to keep on growing," said Munoz.

See also: Car sales in Western Europe up 13.8% in February