LONDON (Reuters) - British new car sales rose to their highest level since 2007 last year, bucking a gloomy European trend to grow by 10.8 percent on the year, industry data for the continent's second-largest car market showed on Tuesday.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said cheap finance deals helped shift 2.265 million cars in 2013, up from just over 2 million in 2012 and slightly beating its forecast for sales of 2.25 million.

"While the European market is only now showing signs of improvement, the UK has consistently outperformed the rest of Europe with 22 consecutive months of growth," said Mike Hawes, the SMMT's chief executive.

However the SMMT only forecast modest sales growth of 1 percent for 2014, as new sales are now close to their long-run average.

"We expect new car registrations to remain stable in 2014 as customers return to a more regular replacement cycle," Hawes said.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by William Schomberg)