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The Mazda3 continues to cement its place as Australia’s favourite car after recording its third consecutive top spot of 2012 in monthly car sales.

Mazda’s small car (main picture) was well clear of its usual rival the Holden Commodore, by 3818 to 3187 sales, though the Toyota HiLux notched up 3561 sales to take second spot away from the locally built large car.

The HiLux, boosted by a return to normal supply after 2011’s Thailand floods, was one of four Toyotas to feature in the list of top 10 selling vehicles for March 2012, ahead of the Corolla (4th, 3120), Camry (7th, 2341), and Prado (9th, 1776).

Holden shifted 2880 Cruze small cars, a number that sees it drop behind the company’s other locally assembled model, the Commodore (itself down 24 per cent for the month), in the brand’s sales ranks for the first month in 2012.

The Nissan Navara placed 6th with 2494 units and contributed, along with the X-Trail SUV (10th, 1769, and pictured above) and Micra (1444), to the Japanese brand taking fourth in the manufacturers’ table, overtaking Hyundai as well as Ford, which slipped to sixth for the first time. [Read our separate story.]

Ford didn’t feature a single vehicle in the top 10 in another disappointing month for the blue oval.

Falcon sales for March dropped 26 per cent compared to this time last year, with a year to date decline of 24 per cent.

The Fiesta failed to break the 1000 barrier despite a bumper month for city cars led by the Yaris (1753), Mazda2 (1510), Hyundai i20 (1456), Micra (1444), Holden Barina (1214) and Suzuki Swift (1116).

The locally developed Ford Ranger ute also struggled despite only being introduced last year.

The Focus (above) was a more positive result for Ford, with the small car jumping 51 per cent year on year to 1557 sales. The Ford Territory increased by the same margin, still boosted by last April’s introduction of a diesel variant.

A number of other brands had notable sales achievements in March.

Lamborghini sold eight supercars for 167 per cent year on year (YoY) growth, and Volkswagen’s Czech brand Skoda flourished with a 146 per cent YoY increase thanks to the introduction of the Fabia city car and Yeti compact SUV (pictured below).

Jeep continues to be the jewel in the Chrysler Group Australia crown with a 108 per cent lift, offset by ongoing issues for Chrysler (down 96 per cent for the month) and Dodge (down 11 per cent).

Jaguar and Land Rover were rarities among luxury and sports car brands in March, achieving positive growth for the month – respectively up 98 per cent and 90 per cent.

Audi’s quest to overtake BMW and Mercedes-Benz as the luxury car sales leader in Australia by 2015 took a blow with March YoY sales down 35 per cent (minus 21 per cent year to date).

BMW sales fell slightly, however, by nearly five per cent, with negative results also recorded for Mercedes-Benz (down 10 per cent) and Lexus (down 16 per cent).

Bentley (-40%), Ferrari (-30%), Maserati (-46%) and Porsche (-22%) all struggled in a tough month for expensive cars.

The sports car segment, however, was the strongest category in March 2012, with 25 per cent growth.

It was closely followed by the Small SUV (up 22%) and Medium SUV (up 21%) segments. Large SUVs (up 16%) and Upper Large SUVs (up 10%) also performed well.

Medium cars rose four per cent for the month to increase the gap to the large-car segment that fell by 27 per cent for March.

Small cars continue to dominate as the country’s favourite vehicle type, accounting for 22,382 of the 51,185 passenger cars sold in March.

The overall Australian vehicle market reached 97,616 for March 2012, up four per cent on March 2011. With year to date figure of 260,122 (up 4.7 per cent), industry body the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries is forecasting 1,046,000 vehicle sales for 2012.

Top 10 vehicles – March 2012
1. Mazda3 – 3818
2. Toyota HiLux – 3561
3. Holden Commodore – 3187
4. Toyota Corolla – 3120
5. Holden Cruze – 2880
6. Nissan Navara – 2494
7. Toyota Camry – 2341
8. Hyundai i30 – 2251
9. Toyota Prado – 1776
10. Nissan X-Trail – 1769

Top 10 brands – March 2012

1. Toyota – 18,461
2. Holden – 10,196
3. Mazda – 9345
4. Nissan – 8312
5. Hyundai – 7806
6. Ford – 7457
7. Mitsubishi – 6007
8. Volkswagen – 4485
9. Subaru – 4004
10. Kia – 2738