A VEHICLE made in the North-East has relinquished its place as one of the nation’s favourites amid a further drop in new car sales.

The Nissan Qashqai tumbled out of the top ten in February.

According to latest figures released today (Monday, March 5), a little under 81,000 new cars were registered nationally last month, down 2.8 per cent on a year ago.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the fall was driven by a 23.5 per cent drop in sales of diesel cars following a Government tax hike.

The Qashqai, made at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, has long been a strong seller, but failed to beat the Kia Sportage, which had 1,152 sales, into tenth place on the list.

However, the model was the sixth most popular on a year-to-date basis, with 4,896 sales.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The new car market remains at a good level, despite the drop in demand for diesel.

“(But) we expect a further softening, given March 2017 was a record as registrations were pulled forward to avoid vehicle excise duty changes."

The Ford Fiesta was the best-seller in February and for the year-to-date, with 5,201 and 13,536, respectively.