The Premium Compact SUV segment grew by 40% year-on-year, the best performance from among all Premium SUV segments that, overall, grew by an impressive 15%. The main driver of growth in the Compact segment has been the introduction of two models to the US market: the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3. And with the new X1 going on sale in the second half of the year I would not bet against this healthy growth continuing for a while yet.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLA jumps straight to the top of the segment, and by a wide margin, with over 12,000 sales in the first half of 2015. The US Market clearly likes the concept of a pumped-up hatchback, something that can already be seen in the success of the Subaru XV Crosstrek, and which bodes well for the incoming Infiniti QX30. The other new entrant, Audi’s Q3, did not do quite as well, landing in fourth spot. Maybe that should not be too surprising, however, given that the Q3 is a 4-year-old design, and arguably one of Audi’s least attractive models on sale.
The #2 spot is occupied by the MINI Countryman, which lost 22% of sales compared to the same period in 2014 but still managed to hold off the Range Rover Evoque, which ends up third despite being the only one of the three incumbents to experience positive growth over the past year. In fact, that the Evoque’s sales grew at all should be considered a huge success, given how the arrival of the new German cars battered the sales of the MINI and, even more so, the BMW X1. Sales of the little Bavarian model, soon to be replaced, fell by almost a half, proving that early entry into the market counts for little if the product is aging and not quite what the buyers want (the X1 is, arguably, a jacked-up estate, whereas the aesthetic that’s preferred by most of its competitors is that of a jacked-up hatchback). This is a similar experience to that which BMW had in the Premium Compact segment, where the new arrivals (Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLS) vaulted past the new BMW 1/2 series in sales by offering a 4-door body that the BMW lacks.