For the first time in more than half a century, Sweden's best-selling car of the year was not a Volvo but the Volkswagen Golf, the Swedish automakers' association said on Monday.

The Golf represented 5.9 per cent of the new cars market in 2016 ahead of Volvo's three most popular models -- the V70, S90 and V90 -- with 5.7 per cent shares of the market together.

"It's been 54 years since another brand than Volvo topped this statistic," Volkswagen Sweden said in a statement.

"The last time this happened was in 1962 and Volkswagen was at the top even then," it added, referring to the Volkswagen Beetle.

But the market share for Volvo remained the highest in the Swedish market with 21.5 per cent. Volkswagen came in second place with 15.7 percent followed by Audi with 7.3 per cent.

Volvo, which produced its first car in 1927, is cherished by Swedes who take pride in the brand's reputation for Scandinavian know-how and quality.

This past year marked a new record of Swedish car sales with 372,300 new registrations an eight per cent jump compared to 2015, the year when a previous record of 1988 was beaten.

"The strength of the automotive market in 2016 is explained by the strong economic situation, robust purchasing power, record low interest rates and a stable labour market," said the Swedish automakers' association Bil Sweden which, however, expects a three per cent drop in the market in 2017.