The market has recovered vigorously after a disappointing June, which saw new car registrations dip 3.7% year-on-year, ending 20 consecutive months of market growth and blamed on World Cup fever and the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Diesel volumes have risen by 48.8% to 350,714 units this year, accounting for 22.7% of the market, up from 16.3% a year ago. Demand rose by 52.7% in July, to take a 24.2% market share, the best since January 1994.
The Ford Focus topped the best sellers' list for the 27th month in a row, with 12,298 registrations.
Christopher Macgowan, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' chief executive, said, 'The new car market has surpassed industry expectations so far this year, and SMMT has revised its year-end forecast. If, as expected, sales hit 2.5 million units it will be another record, coming hot on the heels of last year's best-ever figures.'
The SMMT had forecast new car registrations would reach 2.4 million in 2002.