A total of 83,395 new cars were registered in the UK last month, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.
This was the most February sales since 2004.
Demand was up year-on-year across all fuel types, with diesel and petrol registrations growing by 5.6% and 10.7% respectively, while alternatively-fuelled vehicles enjoyed an uplift of 19.9%.
Registrations by private customers rose by 22.6%, with fleet demand dipping by 1.4%.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "February is typically one of the quietest months of the year ahead of March's plate change, but this positive performance is encouraging and puts the sector in a good position for the coming 12 months."
Year-on-year Volkswagen car sales fell for the fifth consecutive month in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal.
The brand had 6,694 registrations in February, down 13.2% on the same month in 2015.
Volkswagen Group admitted last September that 482,000 of its diesel vehicles in the US were fitted with defeat device software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they were being tested for emissions.
The German-based manufacturer announced that some 11 million vehicles were affected worldwide - including almost 1.2 million in the UK.