The Honda Fit compact took over the title of the nation’s best selling car in 2002, a position held by the Toyota Corolla for 33 straight years, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said Thursday.

It is the first time a Honda has reached the No. 1 spot in new car sales. The Fit was launched in Japan in June 2001.

Honda Motor Co. saw sales of the Fit more than double from 2001 to 250,790 units in 2002.

Toyota Motor Corp. sold 226,222 Corollas, down 4.3 percent from the previous year.

The Nissan March came in third with 139,332 units sold, followed by the Toyota Ist at 103,579 and the Toyota Vitz at 100,801.

Last year, Honda and Toyota competed fiercely for the top position, as Toyota released a special edition of the Corolla at a lower price in September.

However, Honda succeeded in attracting more consumers to the Fit, which features a spacious cabin, increased fuel efficiency and a relatively low price, as compact models increased in popularity in recent years, an association official said.

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