Sales of new small cars rocketed in May, despite a slowdown in the overall new car market.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which released the sales figures, said the overall downturn was due to economic pressure, with chief executive Paul Everitt expecting a tough year ahead.
Overall, car sales fell 3.5% to 179,272 units in May, a drop of 0.6% for the year to date.
But the mini segment rose by 120% in May, a rise of 27.4% over the first five months of last year.
Demand for diesel cars continued to increase, with volumes rising 8.4% to 80,246 cars in May.
Mr Everitt said: “Vehicle manufacturers and dealers will have to work hard to attract consumers, who are facing increasing household and motoring expenses.”
Within the mini segment, the Hyundai i10 proved the best seller.
But despite the rise, May proved to be the weakest since 1999, with sales 13,566 short of the average for the month.
Strong fleet sales offered some bright news.
Although private sales fell sharply by 9.5%, fleet sales were up 3.1% to 96,588 units.
Business registrations dropped by 15.4%, however.
The top three overall sellers in May were the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Vauxhall Astra, reflecting the picture for the year to date.