The Small Premium Sports segment shrank by 20% compared to the first half of 2014, the largest drop from amongst all segments. This is a very surprising outcome, as this segment is full of attractive cars that aren’t all that old, plus one would think that in a recovering economy fun-to-drive and cool-to-be-seen-in cars would do well. It seems not… While part of the decline is due to the Audi TT being pulled from the market in preparation for the new model, the fact is all cars in this segment experienced a drop in sales, bar for the new Alfa Romeo 4C.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK remains the market leader, retaining a slim advantage over the second-placed Porsche Cayman despite an 11% sales drop year-on-year. Following closely in third, though, is the Porsche Boxster, which together with its closed-top sibling sell over 50% more units than the SLK. The Boxster, however, saw its sales fall by 26%, a huge drop given that the car has only been on the market for four year, not a long time in a segment where good designs tend to last longer than in most other segments.
In fourth place, and selling half the units of its arch-rival the SLK, is the BMW Z4. This third-generation model changed the small Z-car formula compared to its predecessor to chase SLK buyers with a softer edge and a folding hardtop, but despite the handsome looks it has never really caught on with the buyers. In fact, the Z4 outsold the SLK until 2011, at which point the third generation of the Mercedes came to market and began outselling the BMW.
The new entrant to the segment, the carbon fiber Alfa Romeo 4C, came in fifth, with 320 units sold in the first half of the year. Whether this is a lot depends on how you view the brand’s ambitions for the model – it definitely sold much less than the segment leaders, but given its high price, uncompromising nature and the fact the this is the model that reintroduced Alfa to the US market after a prolonged absence maybe it’s not all that bad? Especially if you consider that a car similar to the Alfa in philosphy, the cheaper Lotus Elise, only sold 83 units in the same period.