Dealers sold 23% more new cars to motorists using motor finance deals in January than in the same month last year.
However, January 2009 was a particularly weak month for consumer new car finance volumes.
The latest figures from the Finance and Leasing Association showed that the return of the 17.5% VAT rate and heavy snowfall failed to have the major impact on sales in January that were feared.
However, finance deals for used car sales remained slow, with 19% fewer cars sold on dealer finance in January than the same period last year.
Business new car finance sales were also down by 23%, showing that businesses continue to make their current vehicle fleets last longer instead of replacing them.
Although down on last year's highs, the motor finance market still accounts for over 45% of all private new car registrations.
Geraldine Kilkelly, FLA head of research and chief economist, said:
"While we have not seen the record new car finance growth levels witnessed in December, January was still a good month, up 23% on last year. The growth comes against abnormally low consumer new car finance sales in January of last year.
"The cold weather may have prevented consumers venturing out to car showrooms in January, and anyone thinking of purchasing a new car may have decided to wait for the ‘10' number plate, released on 1 March."