The UK became Europe's largest new car market last month as buoyant sales here and in Italy benefited Ford, while the German market continued to struggle.
In the UK, March marked a registration change and the final month of the scrappage scheme, both of which boosted sales.
In Italy, March was also the last month in which scrappage sales could be registered.
In Germany however sales were down 106,590 compared to March 2009 (- 26.6%). It was the only major market not posting a sales increase for the month.
As a result, the Ford Fiesta has become Europe's best-selling car, beating the Volkswagen Golf into second place in both March 2010 and year-to-date sales, according to figures from Jato Dynamics.
In total, 68,630 Fiestas were sold in March 2010, a 25.8% rise in sales compared to March 2009 and 11,785 more than Volkswagen's second-placed Golf.
Year-to-date, Fiesta is also ahead, selling 140,496 to Golf's 135,048, reversing the picture from Q1 2009, but continuing a pattern where Fiesta has closed the sales gap to Golf through 2010.
Fiesta's achievement is even more impressive considering Golf sales also increased during last month and the year's first quarter.
Fiesta sales simply outpaced Golf, with its move to pole position particularly due to its strong March sales in the UK (+14.7%) and Italy (+87%), where 57% of all Fiestas sold (11,251) were LPG-powered.
"What may appear to be a sudden change in fortunes is actually a continuing trend," explained David Di Girolamo, head of JATO Consult.
"Fiesta has been closing the gap to Golf through 2010 and there are a number of factors behind this. The buoyant sales markets so far this year are those where Fiesta is popular and are also scrappage-influenced markets, driving purchase of small cars.
"The last time Fiesta was ahead of Golf in European sales was March 2009, so it remains to be seen whether it can hold top position this time round."
Top 10 Models
Europe's top 10 selling marques (with YtoD sales)