Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to boom with a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth. In 2017, the segment grew by 21% to a record 492.500 sales, or 3,2% of the overall European car market, up from 2,7% in 2016. The first nameplate in this segment to top 100.000 annual sales is the Mercedes-Benz GLC, a runaway success for the brand which had struggled with the unsuccessful GLK until just a few years ago. Keep in mind these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe version, as the GLC would be in second place with just over 85.000 sales without the Coupe. Then again, its closest rival and former segment leader Volvo XC60 benefits from also having 2 different versions available for a few months after the arrival of the new generation. Especially in its home market Sweden the outgoing XC60 was continued to be sold at reduced prices alongside the new version, allowing it to become the best selling model there for the first time ever. Still, it’s impressive how the model was able to finish on such a high note, setting three consecutive annual sales records at the end of its life cycle and then extending that to a fourth record during the year of the model change to the new generation. It will be interesting to see if the new XC60 can continue this strong showing, considering the nameplate was down 11% in the fourth quarter when production of the first generation finally ended.
The midsized premium SUV segment continues to outgrow the overall market and even accelerates its growth rate with a 29% increase in Q3 and a 25% increase in the first nine months of 2017, to over 372.000 sales. The two segment leaders consolidate their grip on the segment as both did better than the overall segment. As a result, the #1 and #2 hold a combined 43% of the segment in Q3 and 42,6% in the first three quarters. The big winner is the Mercedes-Benz GLC (including the Coupe version) wiht sales almost doubling up to over 30.000 sales in the third quarter, which allows it to take over the year-to-date lead of the segment. If the GLC manages to hold on to this position by the end of the year, it will be the first time ever that Mercedese-Benz tops the ranking of this segment. The GLC’s predecessor GLK has never been a success due to polarizing styling, but the new model appears to have hit the mark. The Volvo XC60 showed double digit growth but still loses its top spot as the changeover to the new generation is hurting its pace of deliveries, even though the outgoing model has kept up strong in its last months thanks to competitive pricing of fully loaded versions. It will be interesting to see which one of these two will end up on top in 2018. Or perhaps the segment initiator BMW X3 will mingle into this fight as well when its third generation hits full steam?
The midsized premium SUV segment continues to outgrow the overall market with a 12% increase in Q2 and a 20% increase in the first half of 2017, to 276.300 sales. The two segment leaders consolidated their grip on the segment as both showed double digit growth while their closest four rivals all showed double digit declines. As a result, the #1 and #2 hold a combined 40% of the segment in Q2 and 37,3% in the first half. Amazingly, the Volvo XC60 reclaims the top spot it lost to the Mercedes-Benz GLC in the first quarter. Keep in mind that almost all of these sales are the outgoing model, as the new generation had only just arrived in showrooms by the end of the first half. And the GLC figures also include sales of the GLC Coupe, which makes the Volvo figures even more impressive. If the changeover to the new generation happens smoothly, the XC60 could finish on top of the ranking for the fourth consecutive year, and potentially with more than 100.000 sales for the first time ever. The Audi Q5 took third place in the second quarter but still lost 17% on the sales figures of its predecessor in the same period last year, and it’s not enough to kick the Range Rover Evoque off the year-to-date podium.
Sales of midsized premium SUVs remain in booming growth mode in the first quarter of 2017, with an increase of 27% to 142.000 sales. The overall market is up just 7,8% in the same period. All but one remaining nameplate in the segment grow their volume, but the biggest gainer also takes the top spot for the first time ever. The Mercedes-Benz GLC has quickly helped to forget its unsuccessful predecessor GLK and has stormed the ranking to levels never achieved by the brand in this segment. But there’s a sidenote to its achievement, as we only have combined sales figures which include the GLC Coupe version, whereas BMW splits out these versions into the X3 and X4. Without the GLC Coupe included, the Volvo XC60 would still be in the segment lead. Nonetheless, a #2 spot for the already 9-year old model whose successor has already been revealed is very impressive whichever way you look at it. With the new generation in showrooms within the next few months, Volvo should be able to keep challenging for the lead the rest of this year.
Over the course of the last year, VAG has finally shown off the flexibility of its MQB platform by releasing not one, not two, not even three, but four distinct crossovers based on the ubiquitous component set. Ranging from 4.2m (Audi Q2) to 4.7m (Škoda Kodiaq) in length, and varying in styling, market positioning and global appeal, they will nonetheless often find themselves fighting over the wallets of similar customers, at least in Europe. So now the question to our readers: which do you prefer?
“Worthy but bland”. “Same sausage, different sizes”. “Jacked-up Avant models”. Audi’s crossovers have been called many things by their detractors over the years, though it never prevented them from selling very well. Eventually, though, Audi got fed up and said “Enough!”, promising that going forward it would develop a distinct design language for its Q-series models. The Q7 was the first test, and it’s pretty much universally agreed-upon that it was a test that Audi failed. So it was with mixture of anticipation and fear that everyone waited for the new, “adventeruous” Q2 to be revealed. Finally, the curtain fell, leading many to proclaim: [Read more…]
To no one’s surprise our readers have named the Audi Q2 the most disappointing production car of Geneva 2016. Of course, this is not the same thing as calling the Q2 a “bad” car – Audi is probably incapable of making a car that’s outright bad right now – rather, it’s a car that could have, or even should have been so much better. With a styling that’s both conservative and seemingly under-resolved, a standard 5-door body and size that positions it alongside the older, but arguably more attractive Q3, and a complete lack of a “want it” factor, the Q2 seems like a giant missed opportunity for Audi to, for once, get ahead of their arch-rivals at BMW and Mercedes-Benz. [Read more…]
Abarth 124 Spider
This is the tuned version of the Fiat 124 Spider, which in its turn is based on the fourth generation Mazda MX-5. That means a long hood, low seating position and short but stubby rear end. And of course rear wheel drive and a short-shifting manual gearbox. The Abarth looks more militant than the Fiat thanks to its black hood and trunk lid, but the powerboost of just 10 hp to 170 hp isn’t very impressive and the chassis can handle more power for sure. I hope they’re coming up with more impressive hardware in the future, for example the 300 hp 1,8 liter they’ve mounted in the rally-spec Abarth hard-top. That unit has been mounted further back in the engine bay for better weight distribution. But that’s not all: it looks so stunning you’d wonder why they don’t use a transparent hood to show their jewelry to the world.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
We’ve finally seen the mainstream versions of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, after having been teased with the Giulia QV for over six months now, and honestly I hate to say this, but I’m slightly disappointed with them. The Giulia looks absolutely stunning and very aggressive with the QV body kit, and the white one on display wasn’t too bad, but the blue and grey ones just look didn’t do it for me. The lame wheel designs didn’t help and neither did the uninspiring colors. I really hope this is Alfa’s attempt at following Audi’s strategy of making the basic car look so lame that anyone with even one drop of petrolhead-blood in his body is forced to spend extra on the optional sports package (or S-line for Audi) with body kit and a nice set of wheels to make the car look the way it’s supposed to look.
The Giulia will be available in Europe with three 2,2 liter four-cylinder turbodiesel engines, the 150 hp and 180 hp versions are rear-wheel drive only and the option of manual or automatic gearbox. The 210 hp diesel will only have four-wheel drive and an automatic. The 2 liter four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine will also come in three versions all with standard automatic gearbox. The entry-level version has 200 hp with rear-wheel drive, the 250 hp version has four-wheel drive and the 280 hp version surprisingly comes standard with RWD, but optional AWD. The next step up is the QV with 510 hp, as we already know.[Read more…]
#5 Ssangyong Tivoli XLV
Why is it here? Because it marks a returns to form for Ssangyong as the maker of the ugliest cars on earth. The regular Tivoli may not be a great looker, but at least it’s a decently-proportioned small crossover. And proportions is exactly what this overstretched, under-wheeled monstrosity gets so horribly wrong.