The Mercedes-Benz C-Class was the most searched-for car for contract hire in 2012, according to data from car and van leasing website ContractHireAndLeasing.com.

The C-Class was top of both business and personal contract hire (PCH) searches, with the German marque’s E-Class model second for PCH and third for business contract hire, after the Range Rover Evoque.

The Evoque was the sixth most-searched-for model for PCH as a total of nine models appeared on both business and personal lists, each of which was rounded off by a combination of BMWs, Audis and the Volkswagen Golf.

Finance by volume at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, across both private and business customers, rose 24% year-on-year in 2012, with the brand reporting 37,261 new registrations of the C-Class, its best-selling model, out of an annual total of 91,855 new sales recorded by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

An affordable recovery

Richard Lawton, marketing manager at Really Good Domains, which runs a portfolio of websites including ContractHireAndLeasing.com and MainDealerOffers.co.uk, said: "Although the UK car market remains down on pre-recession highs, we expect 2013 to show further signs of recovery, with leasing, of course, an affordable way for motorists to get the car they really want; with monthly payments typically lower than with a purchase finance agreement.

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"With a new, face-lifted E-Class out now, a new generation Volkswagen Golf now making deliveries and a BMW 4 Series out soon, we expect that these models will have a big impact on the market through 2013.

"Expect to see the continued success of the Range Rover Evoque, too, which is proving to be a big hit with business and personal customers."

richard.brown@timetric.com