A total of 73,633 cars and vans were registered for the first time in 2016, which is some 300 units above the peak figure recorded in 2007.
Of the newly registered vehicles, 63,674 were cars, which makes an increase of 7.11% on the year before.
Meanwhile, van sales surged by a third to 9,959.
The most popular make, Volkswagen, held a 15.5% slice of the market, followed by Renault (12.8%) and Skoda (9.4%).
In December alone, 5,106 new vehicles were registered, a rise of 21% from the same month a year ago. The most popular car was the Renault Clio and the best selling vans were Renaults and Volkswagens.