The subcompact car segment grew by 3% in 2016, about half the overall market growth of 6,2%, but it remains the largest segment in Europe by a large margin. At the top of the ranking, we have a change of guard. For only the second time since 2009 the Ford Fiesta is not Europe’s best selling subcompact car and for the first time in a decade the Renault Clio is the segment leader. We’ve had three different leaders in three quarters, with the Fiesta in the lead after the first quarter, but the Clio took over in Q3, while the Volkswagen Polo became the segment best seller in Q3. By year end, the Clio ended up on top with sales up 3% to just 3.500 ahead of the Polo, while the Fiesta lost 5% of its volume to drop below 300.000 annual sales for only the second time since 2002. The Clio has just been slightly facelifted and the Polo will be updated soon, but there will be an all-new generation of the Fiesta later this year, which should help the nameplate recover some of the lost ground.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
In fourth place, the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa holds on despite a 2% loss of volume, as an all-new generation is expected to arrive in showrooms later this year. The Peugeot 208 enjoys the highest volume since its launch in 2012 in fifth place, while the Toyota Yaris also continues to improve to its highest sales since 2009. The same thing can be said for the Skoda Fabia, but at least this performance can be attributed to its latest generation, the Yaris has been virtually unchanged since 2013 but has steadily improved since. The fastest growing model in the top-15 is the Dacia Sandero, improving further on its volume record set last year. The Citroën C3 has just been renewed, but the effect of the new generation has only been noticeable in the last month of the year. Still, the C3 managed an 8% increase to hold on to its #9 position, and in 2017 it has its sights firmly set on returning to 200.000+ annual sales for the first time since 2010.
The next generation Seat Ibiza has just been revealed as the first subcompact model on VW’s infamous MQB platform and sales will start in the first half of the year. Still, the outgoing version of the Spanish hatchback managed a 2% sales increase in 2016, holding on to its top-10 position. The Hyundai i20 improved 8%, followed by sister model Kia Rio, up 6% and passing the Fiat Punto which continues its downfall until a new generation (500 four-door?) is launched at a yet undisclosed time. The Nissan Micra loses 9% but its successor has already been introduced and is made in Europe on the same production line as the Clio. It’s styling is also more designed for European tastes, so this could become the most successful generation of the Micra yet, after the second generation was the first Japanese car to snag the European Car of the Year award in 1993 and was the best selling Japanese model until 1999, the first full year of sales for the Yaris.
The Suzuki Swift loses 18% as the new generation is just around the corner and it perhaps feels some cannibalization from the Baleno, which has been launched this year as a more roomy and practical alternative. The Honda Jazz adds 21% to its volume but remians a niche player, just ahead of the Mazda2, unable to break through in Europe just like most of Mazda’s models, despite their qualities. The Renault Zoe is slowly but steadily closing in on the top-19 to break free from the niche models and looks set to connect to its mainstream ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) rivals by this year, when it will be helped by an updated battery, giving it a realistic range of 300km (official theoretical range: 400km). Behind the Zoe, the new Baleno racks up 14.500 sales since april, while the Ford Ka+ manages to sell over 10.000 copies since its launch in September. Meanwhile the MG3 grows by another 25% to break the 3.000 sales mark for the first time. Bear in mind this model is only available in the UK.