New car registrations in Germany rose 3.5% in September to 284,172 vehicles, German motor vehicles department KBA reportedly said on Tuesday, thanks to more robust growth among German mass market brands such as Opel.

The figures were better than the industry expected after the German automotive group VDA reported that it forecast registrations to be some 250,000 units, Reuters noted.

In the year to date, the industry managed 3.3% growth after 2.50 million vehicles were registered in the first three quarters of 2005. The VDA is forecasting total registrations of 3.3 million units for 2005, the report added.

Reuters said one of the biggest winners in September was GM's German brand, Opel, which enjoyed a 28.6% gain in registrations to 33,165 units.

An Opel spokesman told the news agency the figures were mainly driven by strong demand for the Zafira compact minivan - the second generation relaunched last summer - as well as the Astra compact model line.

"We're not doing anything specific in addition," he said when asked by Reuters whether the strong sales figures were due to incentives often given at the end of the quarter as firms try to reach sales targets.

The spokesman reportedly said Opel did not have enough details to comment on whether the robust growth in Germany led to a broader improvement in Europe.

Reuters added that the Volkswagen brand enjoyed a market-beating 7.6% rise in registrations to 56,343 units in September.