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Toyota on top with Altis as No 1 model

But Honda brand surges on Vezel grey imports

Singapore

TOYOTA still rules the roost as Singapore's favourite brand but Honda is catching up fast.

As new car sales surge on steadily expanding Certificate of Entitlement quotas, most passenger brands continue to benefit from significantly higher sales volumes.

In the first three months of 2016, a total of 19,912 new passenger cars were registered for a 92 per cent increase, or nearly double the number, from the corresponding period a year ago.

From January to March 2016, Toyota led with a total of 4,165 registrations, according to the Land Transport Authority. This figure includes both official and parallel imports.

But behind the world's biggest carmaker, Honda is a very close second with 4,012 or a difference of just 153 units.

Honda had also ended 2015 as the runner-up but back then, its volume was only three-quarters of Toyota's and the gap was 4,255 cars.

Honda's strength is solely due to the popularity of the Vezel sub-compact SUV, which is a Japan domestic model offered only by parallel importers (PIs). Authorised Honda distributor Kah Motor sells the export version called the HR-V.

With the year-to-date tally for the PIs' collective registrations of Vezel at a massive 2,344, the Honda crossover is actually Singapore's most popular model.

But among authorised distributors, the Toyota Corolla Altis remains numero uno with 1,380 units registered by authorised Toyota distributor Borneo Motors Singapore.

Also no surprise is that the Mazda3 is No 2 with 754 units sold by agent Trans Eurokars.

In fact, there is no change to the Top 4 models among authorised distributors from end-2015, with the Nissan Qashqai (724 units) and Nissan Sylphy (414) in third and fourth places respectively.

In No 5, however, is a new nameplate - the Toyota Wish with 375 units.

In a reflection of strong demand from replacement buyers, the compact Japanese MPV takes the position formerly occupied by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class executive sedan, which has slipped two spots since end-2015 to No 7 with an estimated 340 units.

In No 6 is another Mercedes-Benz, the compact C-Class sedan with an estimated 350 units.

As for the brand rankings, the Top 6 makes are unchanged from last year. Volkswagen, which ended 2015 in seventh position, moves down one spot in Q1 2016. In its place now is Hyundai, which is up two notches.

Subaru has also ascended, from No 10 to No 9, while Mitsubishi enters the Top 10 after finishing 12th last year. On the other hand, Audi has dropped out of the Top 10, to 11th from eighth previously.