Ford, Seat, Audi and BMW were among the few automakers that saw sales growth in a UK market which fell 2.8 percent in February, the eleventh successive monthly decline.
Registrations dropped to 80,805 as weak consumer confidence and uncertainty over the future of diesel hit sales, industry association SMMT said in a statement.
Ford sales leapt 22 percent while Seat saw sales rise 36 percent. Audi's volume jumped 17 percent and BMW registrations increased 10 percent while rival Mercedes-Benz sales slipped 0.1 percent.
• Click here for February UK sales by brand
Nissan registrations plunged 54 percent, while Renault's volume fell 37 percent.
PSA Group's newly acquired Vauxhall brand fell 22 percent. Other losers included Peugeot, whose registrations fell 6 percent, and VW brand, whose sales slipped 4 percent. Mini sales were down 13 percent and Toyota registrations also fell 13 percent.
The Ford Fiesta remained the UK's best-selling car last month, followed by the previous No. 1, the Volkswagen Golf. The Ford Focus was in third position.
Sales of diesel cars fell 24 percent to 28,317, giving diesels a market share of 35 percent, down from 44.5 percent the year before.
Registrations of gasoline cars rose 14 percent to 48,941, giving them a market share of 60.6 percent, up from 51.5 the year before.
Demand fell 30 percent among business customers, 2.5 percent for fleet buyers and 2 percent from private customers, the SMMT said.
In 2017, UK sales recorded their biggest drop in eight years, falling 5.7 percent to 2.54 million, as uncertainty over changes in diesel policy and weaker consumer confidence following the Brexit vote hit demand, the SMMT has said.
The UK's decline contrasted with sales rises in other big European markets last month. Sales in Germany were up 7 percent and increased 4 percent in France. Spanish registrations jumped 13 percent, but volume in Italy dropped 1 percent.