Jaguar and Land Rover look to have gone some way towards stemming their sales slump in the important US car market.
Figures from parent group Ford show that Land Rover gained 8.2 per cent in March, thanks to the new Discovery, called LR3 in America.
The award- winning offroader from Lode Lane, which went on sale at the end of 2004, found 1,797 buyers last month bringing the total for the year so far to 4,611.
Fortunately for Land Rover, the success of the LR3 has offset big falls in some of its other models to put the manufacturer 3.7 per cent ahead on a year to date basis.
Sales of the flagship Range Rover dipped by 5.1 per cent to 867 in March and are 1.3 per cent on the year to date at 2,515. The biggest drop was suffered by Freelander, which were 70.7 per cent down on the month at just 194 units and 67.4 per cent adrift on the year at 691.
Jaguar saw sales of the XK sports car surge by 35.4 per cent to 237 in March and the model was 6.1 per cent at the end of the first quarter with salesof 571.
The Birmingham-built S-Type recovered some lost ground to end March 2.6 per cent up at 1,023, but was 12.3 per cent down on the quarter at 2,441.
The XK and S-Type figures, though, masked further disappointing sales of the XJ and X-Type which left Jaguar 11.5 per cent down on the month at 3,545 and 22.5 per cent down on the year to date at 8,707.
Ford, like its giant Detroitrival General Motors, has had a torrid time of it in its home market in recent months but managed to end March just 1.7 per cent with total sales of 305,172.
Overall, March was a better-than-expected month for US car sales, with General Motors producing a seven per cent increase. But the good performance was mainly due to Japanese manufacturers who are taking market share away from US producers.
Meanwhile, fears grew yesterday that a potential £400 million pension "black hole" could scupper a rescue deal for ailing MG Rover.
Its potential Chinese partner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (Saic), fears it could become liable for the pension deficit if MG Rover were to become insolvent after it signs a joint-venture deal with the company, reports said.
Ministers have raised the prospect of offering a £100 million bridging loan to Saic to help MG Rover to stay in business until the deal with the Chinese was completed.
However, reports said the Chinese believed the DTI money was unlikely to affect the outcome of the deal.
An adviser to SAIC said the loan would give those involved more time to negotiate an agreement, but did not mean it would be achieved, according to a report in The Observer.
No-one from MG Rover or SAIC was available to comment.