The premium midsized car segment grows slower than the overall market at 6% to 662.738 vehicles in 2015, which is the best score since 2011 but a long way from the 1 million sales in 2002. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has scored its second victory of the segment after leading the segment in 2011 by a margin of less than 10.000 units above the #3. This time, the former “Baby-Benz” leads the BMW 3-series by 30.000 sales and the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A4 by almost 50.000 sales. And in 2015 year we can actually compare these 3 models directly, as this year the C-Class Coupe will be launched and its sales will be combined with those of the sedan and the station wagon, while BMW and Audi have separated their coupe versions into stand-alone models with the 4-series and A5.
Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off
After 3 years of reign, the BMW 3-series been relegated to 2nd place as its sales have dropped 15%, partially from increased competition by the C-Class and partially from internal cannibalization by the 4-series, especially the Gran Coupe. The Audi A4 is surprisingly stable despite being 8 years old and the having the new generation in showrooms at the end of 2015. It probably helps that you need to look twice, no three times, to see the differences between the old generation and the new generation, as has become Audi’s trademark (as well as Volkswagen’s).
The BMW 4-series helps BMW remain the best selling brand of the premium midsize segment, and it outsells the Volvo S60/V60 by a large margin. Volvo’s cars somehow manage to keep their sales relatively stable throughout their life cycle, and the 60-series is no exception. The Audi A5 will get the same treatment as the A4 this year, but it also stays pretty stable at just -5%. Behind the A5 is a huge gap to the Jaguar XE, which arrived in showrooms this year. I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed by its performance, selling just a sixth of the class leaders in Q4, with monthly sales that are lower than its predecessor X-Type during its peak year. And that model is considered a flop by a lot of people, despite over 200.000 sales in Europe. Perhaps the station wagon version will boost the XE to acceptable levels.
The facelifted DS5 loses 5% for the year, but was up 10% in Q4 to move ahead of the Volkswagen CC. The Lexus IS is already down after peaking sharply in 2014, but stays well ahead of its Japanese rival Infiniti Q50, which is up by a quarter to a record 3.000 sales. The Lexus RC coupe proves that a V8 engine is no longer the way to go if you want to sell in Europe. After a dismal 16 sales in all of Europe in November, the RC was up to 115 sales in December as the 4-cylinder versions RC200t and RC300h arrived in showrooms, which should help the model into four figures.
After quite a bit of delay, Alfa Romeo will finally bring the all-new Giulia into its showrooms in 2016, at first the top-spec QV and at the end of the year (if there are no more delays) the rest of the line-up with 4-cylinders and diesel engines. That means it won’t be storming up the charts just yet, but it’ll be a more than welcome addition to the segment.
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