At +4% in Q1 of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew at a similar rate as the minicar and subcompact segments, at half the growth rate of the overall market. The perennial leader Volkswagen Golf is still firmly in control despite losing 2% of its volume on last year. Its nearest competitor from a year ago, the Ford Focus, also loses a percent and is overtaken by the surging Opel/Vauxhall Astra, up 30% thanks to the new generation. That still leaves the Golf untouchable, selling more than the #2 and #3 combined, but at least the competition doesn’t sit still like in the midsized segment. The Skoda Octavia is kicked off the podium, which it has impressively held for two years. And the Peugeot 308 is closing in quickly, as it already did in the final months of 2015. The Seat Leon is surprisingly stable and stays ahead of the facelifted Toyota Auris, while the Renault Megane is the biggest loser of the top-10 and drops a spot as it awaits the arrival of the new, fourth generation.[Read more…]
Sales in the second-largest segment in Europe are up 5% in 2015 to 2.317.728 units, which is a slower growth than the overall market as customers continue to switch to crossovers. The Volkswagen Golf loses half a percentage point of share, but that still leaves it with 23,1% of the segment. 2015 is probably the last year in a while the Golf tops half a million registrations, as it will start to feel increased competition from the new generation Opel-Vauxhall Astra and Renault Megane. The outgoing Astra is kicked down into 5th place by the Peugeot 308 but should easily finish 2016 in 2nd place. The Skoda Octavia barely holds on to its third place as the surging 308 adds almost a third to its volume and two percentage points of share to come within 2.000 units of its Czech rival. Some stats even put the Peugeot ahead of the Octavia in the Full Year data, but when I add up their monthly sales this is what they add up to. Whichever way you look at it, this has been a stellar year for the former Car of the Year as it is single-handedly responsible for half of the segment increase and has more than doubled the nameplate’s sales in two years time. [Read more…]
The compact car segment in Europe is up 5% in the first three quarters of 2015, which is slower than the overall market, but the segment is likely to get a boost in 2016 from a few important model launches, most notably from the Opel/Vauxhall Astra and the Renault Megane. None of these is very likely to topple the Volkswagen Golf from its first place in the segment and in fact the entire car market, as the Golf holds a firm 23% share of the segment. The top-3 is still completed by the Ford Focus and Skoda Octavia, as the latter has fallen short in its attempt to pass the Focus.
For fourth place, the Peugeot 308 is already in danger of recapitulating the position it took in the beginning of the year from the Astra, as GM is boosting the outgoing model with huge incentives. The new generation Astra has arrived in showrooms in Q4 and we’ll have to wait and see if it gains traction quickly enough to take back its fourth position by the time the year comes to an end. [Read more…]
Mercedes-Benz A-Class facelift
Mercedes-Benz revamped the A-Class, which features redesigned front and rear bumpers and is optionally available with LED High Performance headlamps. From the beginning of 2016 Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink will become available. The refreshed Mercedes-Benz A-Class comes with a range of no less than eight petrol engines, oddly with only two displacements: a 1.6-litre four-cylinder (A 160, A 180 , A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY Edition & A 200) and a 2.0-litre four-cylinder (A 220, A 250, A 250 Sport and A 45 AMG) engine. The A 160 with 102 hp is the new entry-level model. It consumes 5.1 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 119 g/km) when opting for the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmission, the manual version is slightly less efficient. The diesel range consists of five engines with two displacements: the 1.5-litre Renault engine is offered in the A 160 d, A 180 d and A 180 d BlueEFFICIENCY Edition, while the 2.2-litre Mercedes engine powers the A 200 d and A 220 d. Fuel consumption of the A 180 d BlueEFFIENCY Edition has been reduced slightly to 3.5 l/100 km (CO2-emissions 89 g/km). The A 220 d now offers 177 hp (+ 7 hp). The A 250 Sport now has an additional 7 hp (218 hp) over the regular A 250. Mercedes-Benz was slightly jealous seeing the Audi RS3 dethroning the A 45 AMG (“The best or nothing”, right?), so it has improved the performance of high-performance even further. The four-cylinder engine develops 381 hp (+ 21 hp) and a maximum torque of 475 Nm. Thanks to faster gear ratios, aerodynamic fine-tuning and the Dynamic Select driving mode it launches the A 45 AMG from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, 0.4 seconds than its predecessor.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé
Sales of compact cars have stalled in Q2 of 2015, as the segment is up just 4% at the end of the first half. This is down from +10% after Q1 and just half of the overall market growth of 8% so far. That said, the Volkswagen Golf, traditional leader of the segment and the overall market, is up just 2% but remains unchallenged by a large margin. VW dealers still sell more than twice as many as their nearest competitor, the Ford Focus.
After the Focus had to fight for its second place in the first quarter, with the Skoda Octavia outselling it in January and February, the facelift has given the Ford some renewed sales energy. It’s taken some distance from its Czech rival, which is now also challenged by the Peugeot 308, up 34% on last year. The 308 narrowed the gap to the Octavia to less than 200 units in June, while the Opel/Vauxhall Astra managed to outsell both of them that same month thanks to heavy discounts on the outgoing model as the new generation has just been revealed (pictured). [Read more…]
Let me take you back to some childhood memories: if you’re born in Europe, it’s very likely that your parents had a compact 3-door hatchback to haul you (and potentially your siblings) around in the backseat. In order to reach that backseat, one of the front seats had to be folded forward, giving you just enough space between the seat-back and the B-pillar to dive in. This also meant it was virtually impossible for adults to get in there, making the back seat your own little territory.
Then later, when you reached puberty and you got to borrow you parent’s car to go to clubbing with your friends, getting into the back brought glorious entertainment to all bystanders, even before anybody was drunk. Then on the way back, when one of the backseat passengers started to feel sick and the car needed to pull over, not having rear doors could mean you’d spend the rest of the way back in a sickening smell and you’d be cleaning the car interior for a few hours. Or when you started to get interested in girls and you’d get one warmed up for some backseat fun with you, stumbling into the back via that small opening could easily lead to a cooling of the mood before you even got in there together.
Well okay, not all of these memories may apply to you, but nevertheless it’s becoming ever less likely that our offspring will have similar character-building experiences, as it suddenly occurred to me that the compact hatchback is virtually dead. [Read more…]
Europe’s second biggest segment keeps growing faster than the overall market, but only slightly at 10% for the compact car segment vs. 8,3% for all cars. The tight grip the Volkswagen Golf has held on the segment the last few years seems to soften a little bit, as the Golf grows slower than the segment. Still, more than one in every five compact cars sold in Europe is a Golf, and the VW Group has a 40% share of the segment, although that’s admittedly lower than 2014’s 44%.
The Ford Focus is stable on the first quarter of last year, despite its recent facelift. It does hold on to its second place, but just like its smaller sibling the Fiesta, it has strong March volume in the UK to thank for that. In January and February, the Skoda Octavia clearly outsold the Focus and even the Peugeot 308 came within 1.000 units for the two months combined. With over 32.000 units, more than half of the Ford’s volume in this quarter was registered in March alone.
The aforementioned 308 is the strongest gainer in the top-20 of the segment thanks to the new generation, its station wagon version and the European Car Of The Year award in March of last year. This also means it’s now officially outselling the Opel/Vauxhall Astra for the first time since 2004 and is likely to continue to do so for the rest of the year, as the latter won’t be replaced until the end of the year. [Read more…]
Sales of convertible cars have slowed their decline in 2014, but the segment still has reached a record low for the continent. An easy explanation for this is the crisis that has hit many European manufacturers hard, so they can no longer afford to spend a lot of development and marketing Euros on slow selling models, even if they could work as image-builders for the brand. Faced with the decision whether to develop a low-volume cabriolet or a potential high-volume crossover, most of the mainstream manufacturers have opted for the latter.
It doesn’t help that droptop models don’t sell outside of Europe and the US, which means that the market remains limited to just Europe in the case of the French brands, who used to make some of the most popular cabriolets on the market with the Peugeot 207CC and 307CC / 308CC or Renault Megane CC. As these models are being phased out without any word on a ragtop version of their successors, sales of convertibles in France are down the harshest of all markets.
The Fiat 500C continues to lead the segment, although it’s technically not a 100% cabriolet, because its B-pillar and C-pillar remain intact as its roof is basically not much more than a large sliding canvas sunroof, a similar system as the DS3 Cabrio. [Read more…]
Thanks to a flood of redesigned models, the compact car segment has grown faster than the overall market and has closed in on subcompact cars as the continent’s biggest segment. However, with no more new products in the pipeline until the end of the year and ever-more competition from premium compact rivals as well as small crossovers, 2015 may prove a difficult year for compact cars.
Volkswagen Group is still ultra-dominant, increasing its share of the segment to 44% with over 1 million units sold. Of these, 865.000 are underpinned by VW’s new modular MQB platform, a number which increases to over a million units when we include the Audi A3, the premium compact segment leader, which would rank in fourth place overall if the two segments were to be combined.
Possibly even more impressive than the record 23% share of the Volkswagen Golf is the first-ever top-3 ranking of the Skoda Octavia, not that far off the second place of the Ford Focus. [Read more…]