New figures reveal sales of traditional four-door family cars such as the Ford Mondeo have dropped by more than 250,000 in the UK in the past ten years.
Instead, drivers are opting for a range of vehicles from compact city cars like VW’s Up! to sports utility vehicles (SUVs) such as the Nissan Qashqai.
Demand for sports cars has also dropped since 2004 as well as luxury brands.
The study of new car sales last year compared with a decade earlier was carried out by motoring magazine Auto Express.
It revealed that sales of traditional family cars fell by 55 per cent between 2004 and 2013 while the number of smaller “city cars” sold was up 122 per cent to 80,377 last year.
The number of SUVs was up 38 per cent compared with ten years ago, with 248,003 driven off the forecourt last year. Sales of multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) such as the Ford Galaxy, were up 20 per cent to 150,766.
An Auto Express spokesman said car-buying habits had altered significantly over ten years.
He said: “In 2004, petrol cost around 80p a litre, so it’s no surprise that luxury and sports cars sold better back then. Taking their place are city cars and SUVs, although crossover models mean new SUVs are a world away from 2004’s gas guzzlers.”
Last year, a list of the ten top selling cars showed that big saloons such as the Mondeo, which was once the UK’s most popular car, did not feature. Instead, people carriers and small runaround cars dominated.
Heather Smith, director of car insurance at Aviva, which carried out the “top 10” study, said: “Thirty years ago, the big saloon and the small runaround side by side outside Britain’s family homes was a ubiquitous sight.
“Now you’re more likely to see two VW Golfs or newer SUV/4x4 hybrids sharing driveway space.
“As families’ lives become more busy and complex, it appears multi-tasking mums need a vehicle fit for both work and family life while cost and fuel efficiency are increasingly important to dad.”