The number of vehicles sold in the first three months of 2014 was 26.6% higher than the same period of last year, according to figures from the Society of the Irish Motor Industry.

Almost 50,000 vehicles were sold between January and March 2014, according to the industry body, compared to 39,466 in the first quarter of 2013.

More than 14,000 of those sales occurred last month, 23.3% higher than in the same month of last year.

The latest figures make the first quarter of 2014 the best since the same period of 2008, when 92,664 vehicles were sold.

In the year to date, diesel cars represent almost 74% of sales, with petrol models making up most of the remainder.

More than 67% of sales fit within the ‘A’ tax band, while a further 27.5% were in the next lowest emissions category.

Volkswagen remains the most popular make of car – making up more than 12% of all sales – while the company’s Golf is the most popular model with a 5% share.

Silver is also the most popular colour for a vehicle, making up almost 22% of all models sold.