Rising fuel prices have prompted Kiwis to ditch gas guzzlers in favour of smaller vehicles, according to new data from the Motor Trade Association.

A review of top-selling models between 2009 and 2013 shows sales were dominated by four-cylinder models.

The results of the previous five-year review, carried out in 2011, showed a much wider spread in the most popular types of vehicles.

Between 2009 and 2013 Toyota's Corolla continued to dominate the market, both as a new vehicle and as a use.


The only non-four-cylinder model to make it into the top 10, was the 10th placed Holden Commodore, almost entirely on the back of its sales as a new car.

"At the start of 2009, 91 octane petrol was selling for roughly $1.63 a litre; by the end of 2013, it was close to $2.20 a litre," MTA spokesman Ian Stronach said.

"With petrol costs increasing around 35 per cent in that time, it was entirely predictable that there would be a swing to smaller-engined cars.

"The major surprise is that traditional favourites, like Subaru's Legacy and the Commodore have dropped significantly down the order."

The review saw some familiar names drop out of the top 10 altogether, including long-time favourites such as the Ford Falcon, BMW's 3 Series and Subaru's Impreza.

The fall in relative popularity of "people movers" was also evident with previously favoured models, like Toyota's Estima/Lucida and the Honda Odyssey, falling outside the top 10.

In some cases, changes in availability of vehicles as used imports from Japan were responsible.

"Kiwis continue to have very strong bonds with their cars but at the same time, they can be pretty hard-headed about it too," Mr Stronach said. "If conditions shift to any great degree, then yesterday's favourites can quickly find themselves down the popularity ladder - and most that fall find it hard to ever reclaim their former spot."

Top 10 vehicle models sold 2009-13, combined new and used import sales of passenger and commercial vehicles. Equivalent model for 2006-11 period in brackets.

1 Toyota Corolla (Toyota Corolla)
2 Suzuki Swift (Subaru Legacy)
3 Toyota Vitz/Yaris (Holden Commodore)
4 Mazda Axela/3 (Suzuki Swift)
5 Toyota Hilux (BMW 3 Series)
6 Mazda Atenza/6 (Toyota Estima/Lucida)
7 Mazda Demio/2 (Honda Odyssey)
8 Subaru Legacy (Ford Falcon)
9 Toyota Hiace (Subaru Impreza)
10 Holden Commodore (Nissan Primera)