The European new car market grew 5.6% year on year (69,124 units) to 1,311,084 units last month.

The encouraging July performance means that the first seven months of the year has seen total sales remain virtually flat with marginal growth of under 0.1% (8,221 units) to 9,685,098 units, UK analyst Jato Dynamics said.

Volkswagen in July was again Europe's top-selling car brand, ahead of General Motors Europe's Opel/Vauxhall (up 7.1% in July), Ford (up 10.9% in July and 1.4% YTD), Renault and Peugeot (up 4.7% in July and 0.2% YTD). The order of brand performance in July reflected YTD order.

"New models tend to be the catalysts for brand growth," said Jato business development director Nasir Shah. "The new Corsa has spearheaded Opel/Vauxhall's sales increase this year and the 207 has been fundamental to Peugeot's growth.

"However, Ford has demonstrated that there is still valuable life to be had out of existing models. While the new Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy and recently revised C-Max are providing increased sales for Ford, it's the Fiesta that is experiencing the greatest growth, despite the huge opposition provided by the new Corsa, 207, Clio, Grande Punto and Yaris."

Citroën was also worthy of note with sales increasing 11.4% in July, thanks largely to strong sales of the five-seat C4 Picasso and seven-seat Grand C4 Picasso, taking the brand's total sales YTD 2.4% higher than a year ago.

Fiat sales also increased in July by 7.4% (7.1% YTD) thanks to the recently introduced Bravo, 500 and Sedici models. Toyota registrations rose 5.1% on July 2006 (5.1% YTD), BMW sales increased by 17.4% in July, (0.6% YTD) and Audi continued to increase its share of the market, with sales increasing 8.3% in July (5.8% YtD).

The Peugeot 207 was again Europe's top-selling new car in July 2007 with 37,600 units sold (up 64%), ahead of the Volkswagen Golf (36,741 units, up 5.3%), Opel/Vauxhall Astra (33,971 units), Ford Focus (33,629 units), Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (32,142 units, up 54.9% with the new model), Fiat Punto (30,113 units), Renault Clio (29,612 units), Volkswagen Polo (26,979 units, up 8.3%), Ford Fiesta (26,335 units, up 15.5%) and Volkswagen Passat (26,007 units).

Year-to-date, the top sellers were 207, Focus, Punto, Golf, Corsa (up 49.9%), Astra, Clio, Fiesta (up 2.6%), Passat and BMW 3-series (up 5.8%).

New models that enjoyed notable success in Europea in July included the Nissan Qashqai, Kia Ceed, Skoda Roomster, Volvo C30, Opel/Vauxhall Antara and Chevrolet Captiva.

Models showing significantly increased sales volume following a full-model update included the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa, Renault Twingo, Mercedes-Benz C-class, Smart Fortwo, Honda CR-V, Audi TT, BMW X5, Mini and the Mitsubishi Outlander.

Of the 'big five' markets in Europe, Britain, Italy and France all saw growth in July and year-to-date. Germany continued to struggle and, while its year-to-date figure was down 8.3%, July performance was a considerable improvement, down only 2.7% on last year.

In general terms market performance was mixed, but the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia continued to record significant growth last month while Poland continued its recovery with YTD volumes up 24.3% on 2006.