UK used car sales increased slightly by 0.5% to 1,757,320 units in Q3 this year, according to the latest figures from Experian.
The latest index highlights Q3 2012 as the strongest quarter so far this year for used car sales.
The overall uplift rests on three segments, SUV, supermini and mini - the only ones to see increases in sales of 6.4%, 3.3% and 1.6% respectively.
Among the best-selling SUV models were more compact models favoured for their lower running costs, including the Ford Kuga and the BMW X3, highlighting the increasing demand for fuel efficient models.
Sales of used MPVs, however, fell for the first time since 2005. During Q3, 95,619 used MPVs were sold – down 1.4% compared to Q3 in 2011. Meanwhile, the remaining segments experienced a smaller fall in sales than in previous years.
Hybrid and electric models had the most significant sales increases within their categories with 6,191 hybrid vehicles and 1,110 electric vehicles changing hands in Q3 – up 58.3% and 26.9% respectively.
Sales of diesel fuelled vehicles increased by 7.9% while sales of petrol run cars fell by 2.8%.
The only areas in the UK to see used car sales fall compared to Q3 2011, were Greater London (2.4%), the North (1.2%) and Scotland (1.1%).
The Ford Focus overtook the Ford Fiesta as the most popular used car sold in Q3 2012 compared to Q3 2011, jumping from third to first place and selling over 78,600 units during that period.
Andrew Ballard, strategic director of Experian’s Automotive business in the UK, said: “There is a clear trend towards smaller or more fuel efficient models.
“Even among the SUV sales, some of the biggest increases in sales came from models known for their fuel economy. The larger, more expensive high fuel consuming segments, such as luxury and upper medium segments saw sales fall the furthest.
“We know from talking to the industry that many consumers are now walking into dealerships with a clear idea of what vehicle they want to buy. Insight, such as the Used Car Sales Index, is vital for motor retailers to help them understand where the demand is or what is driving sales, in order to ensure they make that sale. The trend for now, however, is clear. The biggest increases in used car sales will continue to come from the more fuel efficient cars.”