Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Northern Ireland's best-selling news cars 2014 - there are no Top Gear speed monsters in this list

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10 SUZUKI ALTO Number sold 205 Price of basic model £7,199
9 PEUGEOT 208 Number sold 207 Price of basic model £9,995
2 VOLKSWAGEN POLO Number sold: 386 Price of basic model £10,770

Sales of new cars in Northern Ireland are being driven in the right direction as motorists feel more confident about their finances.

But while sales are picking up speed, we're still being careful with our cash, picking out smaller, more economical models rather than top-of-the-range gas guzzlers.

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Northern Ireland's drivers have registered over 11,000 new motors since the start of the year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – 1,500 more than during the same period in 2013.

By investing in more so-called 'big ticket' items like cars, we're revealing that we're a lot more confident about our finances, according to economists. And because the downturn since 2007 made us nervous about spending big, there's a lot of pent-up purchasing frustration being released.

"During the downturn the purchase of big ticket items was deferred," economist Richard Ramsey at Ulster Bank said. "Now that job security has improved, pay rises have returned and inflation is easing, consumer confidence is back."

But it's all relative.

While sales are racing ahead compared to last year, new car registrations still have some way to go before returning to the halcyon days of 2007. In the 12 months before the end of February 2014, 54,000 new cars were sold –15,000 or 21% down on 2007. And while car buyers have been more active over the last year, they have more of an eye for a bargain than six years ago.

Back then, there were two BMWs in the list of the top 10 most popular makes – currently there is none. Instead, Fords, Vauxhalls and Volkswagens abound, along with a Seat, a Nissan, a Peugot and a Suzuki. Small cars make up around half the list.

Colin McNab, group operations director at Charles Hurst, Northern Ireland's largest car retailer, said economy was a big concern for the new car buyer.

"A fresh wave of super-economical, practical, good-looking vehicles have helped to revitalise sales here in recent years, winning over a new generation of budget-conscious buyers who are right up to speed on the costs involved in owning a car," he said.

But overall, Northern Ireland's new car market has been performing positively since the start of the year, and has recorded a bigger percentage jump than the three other countries of the UK.

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