The current Subaru Legacy, which came out in 2014, is a big improvement over its frumpy predecessor – it’s sheetmetal is considerably sleeker, the details look like someone actually was paying attention to them, and the whole looks rather attractive as a result. That said, the car can hardly be accused of being the most originally styled on the market, and it’s clear that parts of its design where inspired by other cars. In fact, the whole rear of the car seems to have been taken wholesale from a luxury car launched a year earlier by another carmaker.
Archives for August 2016
Continuing a series I began last year, I’ll look at different cars sold in worldwide marketplaces that I think US customers would like. This week the focus is on Citroën, one of the oldest and most venerable european car brands, founded in 1919 by André-Gustave Citroën. Over the subsequent almost-century, Citroën acquired a reputation for producing cars that are beautiful and innovative: it built the first unibody car, the first mass-produced front wheel-drive car, the first hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, the first swiveling headlamps… the list goes on. And while today’s marketplace has eroded some of Citroën’s idiosyncratic spirit, it continues to make cars that are very distinct from it competitors.
Previous US is missing out columns:
Renault Talisman is a very good-looking car, no two ways about it. It manages to look imposing and elegant (well, aside maybe from the running-mascara daylights) while at the same time retaining a clear family resemblance to the more swoopy Renault designs such as the Twingo or Clio thanks to the imposing diamond on its grille. However, there is one element of the car’s design that to me always looked too similar to one of its direct competitors, namely the front lights. [Read more…]
Sales of large passenger vans in Europe are up 14% in the first half of 2016, outperforming the overall market at +8,8%. The #1 and #2 of the segment both improve 15%, keeping their share of the segment stable. That means the Volkswagen T6 still leads the segment with about a third of total sales thanks to its facelift of last year, followed by the Fiat Ducato with a fifth of segment sales, thanks to its popularity as a base for camper vans. In third place we find the Mercedes-Benz V-Class, the luxury version of the two Mercedes models in this segment, with sales up 41% but still far from threatening the Ducato. Even when combining the V-Class with its workhorse version Vito Tourer, Mercedes-Benz is only in 2nd place with a slim margin over the Fiat. And that’s without adding sales of the Citroën Jumper and Peugeot Boxer, of which we unfortunately don’t have specified data, but I’d have to guess it’ll be less than the 2.600 units needed for the Sevel-Sud triplets to hold on to 2nd place.
Sales of exotic cars in Europe outgrow the overall market in the first half of 2016 with an increase of 15% to 3.182 units. More than half of those sales are for just two models: the Bentley Continental GT / GTC and the all-new Ferrari 488. The Ferrari was the segment leader in Q2 but the Bentley still leads year-to-date. This will be an interesting battle for the segment pole position by year-end, the British coupe and convertible having led the segment since 2012 with the 488’s predecessor Ferrari 458 Italia not far behind for most of that time. The Lamborghini Huracan recovers in third place after a dramatic Q1, now that the Spyder version is fully available as well.
The large premium SUV segment is one of the fastest growing in Europe, with sales up a booming 31% in the first half of 2016, a figure only beaten by the mainstream large MPV segment. And like that segment, this is a direct result of the renewal of a few key players: two thirds of the segment growth can be attributed to just two models: the Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. These two redesigned SUVs are still unable to knock the ruling leader BMW X5 off its throne, despite losing a big chunk of the segment share with sales flat at just +2%. The two newcomers take the bottom steps of the podium but will surely attempt another coup in the second half of the year. The Range Rover Sport also has stable sales but is relegated to fourth place ahead of the Mercedes-Benz GLE, the facelifted and renamed M-Class. Behind these five theres a wide gap to the second tier of the segment, led by the aging Volkswagen Touareg ahead of its platform sibling Porsche Cayenne, both losing double digit volume in the first half of the year.
The midsized premium SUV segment in Europe enjoys hot demand with sales up 25% in the first half of 2016. This is a result of renewed models and the introduction of new players to the segment, but while most premium segments are dominated by the Germans, amazingly the leader of the midsized premium crossover class is an already 8-year old Swede! The Volvo XC60 shows flat sales and therefore loses a big chunk of share compared to last year, but its lead was big enough to hold on to the pole position. Behind it, there’s a fierce three-way battle for 2nd place between the Range Rover Evoque, freshly facelifted and segment leader in Q1, the Mercedes-Benz GLC, all-new and ready to take control of the segment, something its predecessor GLK never achieved, and the Audi Q5, just as old as the Volvo but #2 of the segment in Q2. The Volvo is likely to hang on to the lead and the GLC will leapfrog the Evoque by the next quarter for sure, but for the rest of this top-4….. The Audi’s strength is amazing and I almost can’t believe it could still outsell the completely fresh and great-looking Mercedes, but that’s exactly what it’s done in the second quarter and remains a force to be reckoned with. [Read more…]
Sales of limousines in Europe were up 10% in the first half of 2016, which is faster than the overall market at +8,8%. The segment showed particular strong sales in Q2, when sales grew 13,5%, boosted by the new generation BMW 7-series. Despite deliveries of the latest version of Munich’s largest sedan picking up traction, it still trailed the king of the segment Mercedes-Benz S-Class by 600 units in that second quarter. However, keep in mind that Mercedes includes sales of its S-Class Coupe and Convertible in these figures, and unfortunately we don’t have a breakdown per body style. That means we’ll have to make assumptions of the share of non-sedans the brand sells, but I’m pretty sure it’s been a tight race between the S-Class sedan and the 7-Series sedan in Q2. The Audi A8 is now a distant third with sales down 13% on last year, when it had just been facelifted.
Sales of premium large cars in Europe are down 1% in the first half of 2016, as they recovered in Q2 from a 5% dip in the first quarter. With “just” a 77% share of the segment, the Germans are less dominant in large cars than they are in any premium car segment (this excludes SUVs where their dominance is even less). The battle for the segment lead has intensified, with the Audi A6 holding on to its top position, but only just. It was outsold in Q2 by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class by a margin of 3.000 units and is more than likely to have to relegate its position by the next quarter to the new generation E-Class. The E-Class is already the biggest winner in the segment top-10 with an increase of 13% in the first half, thanks to a 27,5% improvement in Q2 when deliveries of the new generation started. It’s unlikely to face any strong competition for the rest of the year, until BMW answers with the next generation 5-series by early 2017.
Sales of premium midsized cars improve 8% in the first half of 2016, almost in line with the overall market at +8,8%, thanks to a strong second quarter when sales advanced 12,6%. The German brands equally dominate this segment as they do with the compact segment, as over 85% of cars sold in this class has a German badge, but at least that figure is falling (last year it was almost 88%) thanks to increased competition from brands like Jaguar and Alfa Romeo. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class holds on to its lead in the first half, despite being outsold by the new generation Audi A4 in Q2. What’s more, the figures for the C-Class include those of the Coupe and Convertible versions of the model, while Audi and BMW have decided to differentiate the names of their sporty offerings. As a result, BMW is actually the biggest seller in this segment, with over 113.000 sales of its 3-series sedan, Touring station wagon and GT hatchback and its 4-series coupe, convertible and GC 4-door coupe, vs. 110.000 sales for Audi with its A4 sedan and Avant station wagon of the new generation and the A5 coupe, convertible and Sportsback 4-door coupe still of the previous generation. But again, in Q2 Audi was the big winner, and that will only increase with full availability of the A4 Avant and the introduction of the new generation A5 in the second half of the year.