Sales of the Volkswagen Golf were supposed to suffer last year ahead of the arrival of the new sixth-generation model last autumn.
But aggressive marketing of the Golf V helped VW sell 470,399 Golfs last year, up 5.6 percent from 2007, making the model Europe's top seller for the second year in a row, according to JATO Dynamics.
The Golf was the only car in the top 10 to have a sales increase as the late-2008 sales slump hit a number of models hard.
The Golf outsold more than 40 brands in Europe last year, including VW subsidiaries Skoda (469,000) and Seat (339,137).
Europe's second best-selling car was the Peugeot 207 with 413,881 units sold, down 7.4 percent from the previous year.
No.3 was the Ford Focus with 384,619 units sold, a drop of 9.1 percent from 2007.