Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to grow in 2018, but at a lower rate than before. After four consecutive years of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth, the segment was up “only” 5% in 2018. This still means that for the first time ever, over half a million luxury midsized crossovers were sold in Europe. And after claiming the segment lead last year, the Mercedes-Benz GLC consolidates its lead with a 13% gain to over 125.000 sales, almost one in every four sales in this segment. Please note that these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe, but even without those the GLC would easily top the ranking. Just imagine the sales volume (and turnover) Mercedes-Benz has missed by completely failing with the design of its predecessor GLK, which peaked at just 33.000 sales and 15% of the segment in 2012. The Volvo XC60 is down 19% in the first full year of sales for the new generation, and this is mostly due to the strong finish of the previous generation, which even continued to be sold alongside the new model in its home market Sweden. Despite sales back to its 2016 level but its market share thawed to the lowest in at least 7 years, the XC60 still holds on to its #2 spot ahead of the Audi Q5, which sees stable sales in 2018, as it also did in 2017. The Q5 has been around 70.000 annual sales for three years now, even during the changeover to the next generation and last year’s introduction of the WLTP fuel efficiency testing procedures, which meant some versions of the Q5 (and many other models) could no longer be sold after September 1st, 2018.
The Geneva Auto Show is one of the most important in the world, together with Detroit and Shanghai. Every year the Palexpo exhibition halls are jam-packed with exciting new launches from both the familiar mass-market brands and the obscure one-off garage-at-home builders. In terms of new production cars, Geneva never disappoints with more than a handful of all-new cars ready to hit showrooms in the coming months. After walking around on the show floor for two days, carefully observing, inquisitively test-sitting and numbing our ears with the broken record of marketing jargon, we’ve reached a verdict on what’s hot and what’s not.
In addition to the regular poll asking the “which is your favorite?” question, we also thought we’d ask you a slightly different question, more in the spirit of CarSalesBase – “which new car do you expect to deliver the biggest sales improvement on its previous generation?”. Enjoy! [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.
Jaguar faced a tough decision when designing its first EV: either follow the successful Tesla Model S template, or go with a more original concept. While I’m sure the former option looked attractive to them, given the Tesla’s market success and, aruguably, the need to give the XJ replacement a stronger USP, the company ended up taking the bold step of venturing into a market that, until recently, would have been unthinkable for the brand: a sporty crossover. I admire as much – it takes guts, and, given how the concept looks, the final product will probably end up being one of the better-looking EVs out there. The problem is that, unless some parts of the design change substantially from the concept, it won’t be all that original…
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
As far as I’m concerned, they absolutely nailed this one. If the Giulia has a somewhat anonymous rear end, the Stelvio is original and great looking from all angles. Perhaps the rear overhang is a bit too much and the rear 3/4 a tad too rounded, but from the front 3/4 it looks very squat and the QV even aggressive. I love the full rear view and the shape of the C-pillar, not to mention the interior.
The expectations for the Stelvio may not have been as sky-high as those for its Giulia sister, but it’s fair to say the SUV was the most anticipated premiere of the show. The good news for the Alfistas is that the Stelvio delivers where it matters: as Bart mentioned, it looks good for the most part, promises a very dynamic drive, and comes topped with a 500hp+ halo model. What’s not to like?