Second-hand diesel sales rose in the last quarter, but couldn't prevent an overall market slump.

The British market for used diesel cars is growing despite negative media coverage and emissions legislation, new figures have revealed.

According to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), demand for second-hand diesel-powered cars grew 4.2 percent in the third quarter of 2017 while sales of petrol-engined cars fell by 6.5 percent.

Demand for electric cars, meanwhile, soared by more than 66 percent, but it wasn’t enough to stop the market as a whole slumping to a second consecutive quarter of decline, with sales down by just over two percent.

In contrast, the UK’s new car market paints a somewhat different picture. Although both markets are shrinking despite increasing demand for electric and hybrid vehicles, the popularity of new diesels has been slashed. Last month, for example, diesel sales fell by around 30 percent, yet petrol sales remained relatively strong.

The SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes, said that though the reduction in overall demand for second-hand cars was to be expected, the increasing sales of diesel and alternatively fuelled vehicles was encouraging.

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‘However, as demand in the new car market cools, used car sales normally follow suit unless there are significant tax changes affecting the new car market,’ he said. ‘The used car sector remains in good health as motorists take advantage of some great deals on cars – including some of the latest low emission diesel and alternatively fuelled vehicles.’

Hawes also called for ‘economic and political certainty’, which he said was necessary to ‘boost buyer confidence’.

Fiesta remains top dog

Although the appetite for diesel power in the used market may not reflect that of new car buyers, the taste in cars seems unchanged.

The Ford Fiesta, which has long been Britain’s most popular new car, also proved itself with used car buyers, with almost 100,000 examples changing hands in the third quarter of the year.

The Fiesta was followed by its larger sibling – the Focus – and its arch rival, the Vauxhall Corsa.