BBC Top Gear Magazine easily retained the top spot with 200,761 copies, up 0.1% year on year - a rise agencies attribute to its association with a "phenomenally successful" TV programme.
Haymarket Consumer Media's What Car? stayed second, but was also the biggest loser year on year, falling 19.3% to 87,220 copies.
But the title was still almost 20,000 copies ahead of Dennis Publishing's Auto Express and Evo. The latter overtook Bauer Consumer Media's Car to take fifth place.
James Burnay, deputy managing director of Dennis Motoring, says the sector's fall "has to be related" to the drop in car sales, but magazines are still outperforming the auto industry. He points out: "New car sales are down 23% for the year to date, but the magazine sector is down only 6%."
Will Aves, press buying director at ZenithOptimedia, says: "People may not be able to afford a new car, but that suggests in the past they've been reading car mags for a perfunctory purpose, which I question."