Depending on your point of view, the new BMW X2 is either a handsome, sporty crossover, or another letdown from the once-mighty Bavarian carmaker, which has in the past decade taken to slapping the “coupe” moniker on slightly sleeker, but still 4-door versions of its mainstream models in an effort to attract style-conscious buyers. Personally, [Read more…]
Sales of compact cars in Europe declined 2% in 2017 to nearly 2,34 million units after 4% declines in each of the last three quarters. Europe’s second largest segment accounts for 15,1% of the total market, down from 15,8% in 2016. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is completely on par with the rest of the segment and holds on to its 20,6% share thanks to a facelift in Q2. Its stablemate Skoda Octavia is stable for the year, gaining less than 500 sales but that still means a new volume record for the nameplate, knocking down the Opel/Vauxhall Astra which was down 35% in Q3 after a 28% decline in Q3. Like the Corsa in the subcompact segment, the Astra suffers from Opel/Vauxhall’s new owner deciding not to chase volume at all cost as General Motors used to do. This means lower discounts and reduces deliveries to daily rental fleets, leading to a sales shock in the short term but should be beneficial for the brand in the long run. Fourth placed Ford Focus is also stable despite being in the final year of the current generation and despite the overall decline of the UK market, its most important market with a third of its European volume. In the battle of the French, the Renault Megane jumps ahead of the Peugeot 308 to take 5th place, but I´m sure Renault expected more from this new model. [Read more…]
The compact car segment in Europe showed a 4% decline in sales in the third quarter of 2017 as it did in the second quarter as well, which means the year-to-date figure is down 1% the same period last year. Just over 1,8 million compact cars were sold in the first nine months of 2017. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is back into positive territory with a gain of 6% in Q3 but is still down by 6% year-to-date. It still sells more double the figure of the #2 player in the segment as the Opel/Vauxhall Astra was lost a horrid 28% in Q3 and was down to fourth place this quarter. If it proves unable to turn its fate around, the VW Group looks set to grab the top-2 spots for the first time ever with the Skoda Octavia moving up to second place. The aging Ford Focus lost 3% in Q3 but will be replaced in 2018 so in fact its 1% decline so far this year is actually pretty impressive considering most of its rivals are much fresher. [Read more…]
Audi RS4 Avant and BMW M5
If this is the future of performance saloons/wagons, sign me up! Sure, we should all mourn the passing of the thrilling NA V8 screamer in the RS4 and, going back two generations, a similarly high-revving NA V10 in the M5. However, if they can only imbue the new engines with a bit of charisma it’s hard to argue with the hard facts: 0-62mph (100km/h) times of 4.1s for the RS4 and 3.4s for the M5, respectively, plus a series of chassis techniques to make these big cars controllable and exciting: torque vectoring, carbon brakes, a rear-biassed 4WD system that can be fully switched off in the BMW’s case. Plus they look every bit as good as they should, with their wide tracks and swollen arches.
The compact car segment in Europe showed a 4% in sales in the second quarter of 2017, which means the first half figure is stable on that of the same period last year. At 15,2% of the total market with over 1,27 million sales, the compact segment is the second-largest segment in Europe after the subcompact segment. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf loses 2,5 percentage points of share but still sells more than the #3 and #4 of the segment combined and the gap to the #2 is still more than 100.000 sales. One of the reasons for its 12% loss is the recent facelift which hurt availability, but it also suffers from in-house competitions from crossovers like the new generation Tiguan, Seat Ateca and perhaps even the Skoda Kodiaq. Coincidentally with its shift from GM to PSA, the Opel/Vauxhall Astra starts to slip with a 7% decline in Q2, although it’s still in the black for the first half. The battle for 3rd place remains close, but the recently facelifted Skoda Octavia outsold the aging Ford Focus by 5.800 sales in Q2 to edge out a narrow lead to reclaim 3rd place. The new generation Focus won’t arrive until next year, so the Octavia is expected to finish the year on the podium for the second year in a row. [Read more…]
Sales of compact carsin Europe increased 4% in the first quarter of 2017, half the growth of the overall market at +7,8%. Total volume of the segment was just over 636.000 sales, which means it remains the second-largest segment in Europe. Segment leader Volkswagen Golf is in trouble with a loss of 11% as it has just been facelifted but also feels some in-house competition from the new generation Tiguan, and possibly even from the Seat Ateca crossover. The new generation Opel/Vauxhall Astra continues to outperform the segment, but is still way too far behind to even remotely threaten the Golf’s domination. Like the Fiesta one segment down, the Ford Focus traditionally has a good start of the year thanks to its popularity in the UK, but its 7% gain is nonetheless impressive considering it is one of the oldest models in the top-6.
The compact car segment in Europe has grown by 3% in 2016, half the growth of the overall market at +6,2% and equal to the subcompact car segment, which remains Europe’s largest segment ahead of this one. Expectedly, the dominant leader of the segment Volkswagen Golf drops back below half a million sales after two years, due to increasing pressure of fresh rivals. The main culprit to the Golf’s demise is the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, movin up from fifth place to #2 for the first time since 2011 thanks to a 30% sales increase on last year, topping a quarter million sales also for the first time since 2011. The bang-for-your-bucks Skoda Octavia holds on to its third place with sales up 5%, helped by the 9% loss for the Ford Focus, dropping from 2nd place to #4. The Peugeot 308 loses a similar share of 9% and drops a place to #5 after topping 200.000 sales for only one year.
When the latest Hyundai i30 / Elantra Sport was revealed at the Paris Auto Show in the fall of 2016, I was more than a little bit disappointed. After all, the previous generation marked a big improvement over what came before, bringing a confident, dynamic style that made it one of the most attractive hatchbacks on the market. The latest model goes for a completely different look, trying to be sophisticated and solid-looking in a bid to emulate the VW Golf’s appeal, but to these eyes at least it falls quite short of achieving that. That said, even I have to admit that from the rear the car is rather attractive, in that it reminds me of one of my favorite designs, even if the similarity is more in concept than the detailed execution.
At +4% in the first three quarters of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew faster than the minicar and subcompact segments, but slower than the overall market. The traditional leader Volkswagen Golf is feeling the competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, but its top spot is in no way threatened. In fact, VW feels so confident about the strength of the Golf nameplate, its upcoming facelift will keep exterior design updates to a minimum. The Golf will be made up-to-date on in-car technology, with gesture control for its multimedia system and semi-autonomous features. Meanwhile, the Astra is the biggest winner of the segment in volume terms and is now the only other compact car with a double digit share of the segment. After narrowly edging out the Ford Focus for 3rd place in the first half of 2016, the Skoda Octavia firmly consolidates that position in Q3, as the Focus is the biggest loser in the top-10.
At +6% in the first half of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew faster than the minicar and subcompact segments, but slower than the overall market. In Q2 the compact car segment grew by 10%, which is just ahead of the market’s 9,8% gain. The Volkswagen Golf remains untouchable despite the diesel scandal and renewed competition from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra, but it is one of only 3 models in the top-10 to lose volume. The Golf’s closest rival from a year ago, the Ford Focus, loses even more and is pushed down into fourth place by the new generation Astra, up 27%. With the Skoda Octavia in third place and the Seat Leon in sixth, the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform takes almost 37% of sales in the second largest segment in Europe. With the Focus starting to age, the Peugeto 308 has a shot at grabbing fourth place in the segment by the end of the year, a ranking last achieved by the previous generation in 2008. The 308 already outsold the Focus in May and was just 750 units behind in Q2. The new generation Renault Megane has started deliveries and is aiming for 6th place in the segment by year-end, as it already outsold the Leon and the Toyota Auris in Q2.