The Premium Mid-sized segment grew by a healthy 10% year-on-year, a better performance than all the Premium segments combined (3%) or the market as a whole (4%). The growth is driven not just by the good performance of the new entrants into the segment (Mercedes-Benz C class, Lexus RC, Acura TLX), but also by the growth in sales of the evergreen BMW 3/4 series. In fact, this may well be one of the “freshest” from among the established segments, with only the aging Audi A4/A5 and Volvo 60 series being more than 4 years old. Such a healthy growth rate widens the lead the Premium Mid-sized segment has over the Premium Large segment, outselling the larger cars by more than 3-to-2, and that lead is only likely to increase when the new A4 enters the market.
As one can expect, the BMW 3/4 series remains the market leader, selling 50% more cars than the second placed model. In fact, this is one of the largest leads the segment leader has over other models in the segment, second only to Mercedes’ S class. US customers clearly love their small BMWs, and ubiquity does not seem to hurt the model one bit – its year-on-year growth of 19% was not that far off the 31% growth recorded by the Mercedes-Benz C Class / CLK in second spot. With such a performance the new-for-2015 Merc managed to pull a clear lead over the 3rd-placed Infiniti… (deep breath)… G/Q40/Q50/Q60, which held station at a respectable 30k units or so.
In fourth and snapping at the Infiniti’s heels is the Lexus IS/RC. The IS sedan has traditionally done well with its american customer base, and the 28% growth rate means that customers must be liking the new-for-2015 RC coupe as well. In fifth spot is the surprise of the segment – the Acura TLX – whose 147% year-on-year growth compared to its direct TL predecessor puts it ahead of the Audi A4/A5. The aging german seems like it threw in the towel, selling less than a third of the BMW 3/4 series. It will be interesting how the market receives the new A4 model that, though greatly improved if you read the reviews, looks a whole lot like its predecessor.
In #7 is the Lincoln MKZ, the sort of “meh” luxury version of the Ford Fusion/Mondeo. Ford has been telling those who would listen for what feels like 15 years now that it wants to be serious about competing with the big players, but looking at the MKZ it’s simply hard to see that happening. But hey, at least its doing better than its homegrown rival, the Cadillac ATS. The smallest of the new breed of Cadillacs, the model had a lot of people very excited before it came out, but it has so far failed to set the market alight. Part of the problem may be its conservative styling, the other may be its cramped interior. Whatever it is, the ATS should be careful – another half year of sales falling at this pace and it will drop to the last spot in the segment, behind the aging Volvo 60 series.