Demand for 4x4s 'at all-time high'

Improvements in fuel economy and emissions have sent the popularity of 4x4 vehicles soaring among car buyers, according to a study.

The demand for 4x4s is at its highest level ever, with the number of motorists looking to buy one rising by 35% over the past one year, new car search website Motoring.co.uk said.

It added that searches for new superminis have fallen by 30% and for hatchbacks by 12%.

The figures are surprising since motorists hit by high fuel costs and rising insurance premiums would usually be expected to lean more towards smaller cars.

But Motoring.co.uk's co-founder Chris Green said greener and more fuel efficient 4x4s are proving to be a big attraction for buyers.

As an example he cited the upcoming Range Rover Evoque, which has already secured 20,000 pre orders.

Mr Green said: "As major manufacturers continue to invest in more fuel efficient, smaller engine 4x4s, we will we continue to see demand continue to grow as motorists favour their size, safety and road handling in bad weather conditions."

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