Corolla Altis is No 1 model in sales and popularity but Mazda3 is surprise runner-up
Toyota back as top brand Toyota returned to rule the roost in March, with its popular Corolla Altis accelerating to the top of the sales charts as Singapore's favourite model, followed by an unexpected runner-up - the Mazda3. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Toyota returned to rule the roost in March, with its popular Corolla Altis accelerating to the top of the sales charts as Singapore's favourite model, followed by an unexpected runner-up - the Mazda3.

Toyota's big push in March allowed it to overtake Mercedes-Benz, which had dominated in January and February.

A strong spurt of 968 cars registered in March alone pushed the Japanese juggernaut into first place with a total of 2,090 units put on the road in the first three months of the year, according to the Land Transport Authority.

This number includes both authorised and parallel imports.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has slipped to runner-up position, with year-to-date registrations of 1,427 units, which means both Toyota and Mercedes-Benz are in the same positions as at end-2014.

But last year's No 3 brand, BMW, is currently trailing in seventh position with just 575 units. The current No 3 is Honda with 926 units, followed by Mazda (886) and Nissan (799).

Volkswagen, last year's fourth most popular brand, is currently in sixth place with 724 units.

As for the most popular model in the first quarter, the Toyota Corolla Altis managed to extend its winning streak into 2015 after ending 2014 as Singapore's best-selling car.

Authorised distributor Borneo Motors Singapore sold 737 units of this popular Thai-made compact sedan in Q1 2015, with more than half of that number registered in March alone.

The boost was possible because of the introduction of an entry-level variant in late February at a very attractive price.

The second most popular model among authorised distributors was a surprise, however - the Mazda3.

With 453 units registered, or slightly more than one of every two Mazda cars sold in the first quarter, this model performed strongly on account of it being well-priced with a good number of innovative and factory-fitted features. Another plus point among buyers in this class is that the Mazda models here are made in Japan.

Rounding up the top 3 models was something at the opposite end of the price scale - the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

The E-Class was the most popular model in 2013 and 2010, and the runner-up in 2014. Although there are no official numbers, about 400 units were understood to have been registered by authorised distributor Cycle & Carriage in Q1 this year.

The LTA figures are comprehensive because they cover all makes sold here, although they include parallel imports, which can make up anywhere from 5 to 25 per cent of total registrations for the more popular brands.

On the other hand, the model breakdown data for each brand is not freely available because the LTA has withheld its release due to the German manufacturers' adherence to regulations governing internal compliance and anti-trust issues.

Thanks to the increasing supply of certificates of entitlement, a total of 10,364 new cars were registered in the first three months of the year, or a massive 73.8 per cent increase from the 5,962 units in the same period a year ago.