More than 19,000 new cars were sold in March, according to industry body SIMI, a 33% increase on last year.

It brings to more than 64,700 the number of cars sold in the first quarter of 2015 – up 29.7% on the same three months of 2014.

The figures mark the best opening quarter for car sales since 2008, when more than 92,660 cars were sold in the three months.

Volkswagen was the best selling car brand during March with a 12.2% share of the market. The company’s Golf was also the best-selling car model during the month, representing almost 4.5% of all cars sold.

The vast majority of cars sold last month were in the ‘A’ tax bracket, with just 4% categorised as ‘C’ or higher.

Meanwhile more than two-thirds were diesel fuelled, though this is down slightly on the proportion in March 2014.