A new survey argues that quality, desirability and handling play no part in the choice of vehicles for Britain's fleets, which are instead entirely focused on discounts, future values and running costs.
The allegation is part of a 'real-world' car sales list produced by Autocar magazine, which has stripped out fleet sales to identify the cars sold to the private market.
Although the figures are widely available, Autocar claims to have 'lifted the lid' on secret industry documents that show what private buyers really spend their money on.
A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders questioned the claims made in the research, saying: 'I don't think there is a fleet manager in the land who does not consider quality, desirability or handling when creating a choice list.
'Clearly running costs are important in the buying decision, but they are all key factors. Furthermore, private buyers don't focus solely on quality, desirability and handling, they also look at running costs and discounts.'
But a spokesman for Autocar said the research simply revealed that superminis dominated the top 10, showing that drivers were doing their best to help the environment.
And he complained that despite this, the Government increased motoring taxes year after year.
|2003 sales figures|
|Manufacturer Top 10||Retail Top 10|
|1. Ford Focus: 129,054||Ford Fiesta: 56,790|
|2.Vauxhall Corsa: 108,307||Renault Clio: 55,768|
|3. Ford Fiesta: 95,887||Peugeot 206: 47,822|
|4. Vauxhall Astra: 90,241||Vauxhall Corsa: 42,522|
|5. Renault Clio: 83,972||Ford Focus: 39,562|
|6. Peugeot 206: 73,185||Volkswagen Golf: 37,390||7. Volkswagen Golf: 67,222||Ford Ka: 35,590|
|8. Ford Mondeo: 60,046||MINI: 35,037|
|9. Ford Ka: 52,826||Nissan Micra: 33,308|
|10. Nissan Micra: 52,634||Volkswagen Polo: 32,594|