As expected, sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe are booming thanks to a handful of new models and the continued improvement of existing players. After growing 11% to almost 300.000 units in 2014, the segment adds another third to its volume in the first quarter of this year. Extrapolating this growth rate to the full year, premium brands will sell almost 400.000 compact SUVs in 2015.
Volvo continues where it ended 2015 for the first time ever: on top of the ranking. The Volvo XC60 is up 26%, the highest of the top-5 and thus consolidates its new-found leadership. This is the only segment where Volvo clearly outsells its German competitors, which are even outsold by the Range Rover Evoque, although the Audi Q5 is likely to reclaim its #2 spot later this year, as the Evoque will be updated in the second half of the year. Besides that, the small Range Rover traditionally benefits from strong March sales in the UK to enjoy a strong first quarter. Remember it was the leader of the segment in Q1 of 2014?
The BMW X3 is suffering from sibling rivalry with the X4 already at 60% of its volume, a ratio the X6 has never been able to achieve vs. the X5. The BMW X4 is even closing in on the Mercedes-Benz GLK, which should rebound next year as the new generation, called GLC, will ditch the square looks and actually look even better than the X3 in my opinion. Mercedes will also introduce a GLC Coupe to compete against the X4 and Porsche Macan.
The Macan is not too far behind the X4 in the first quarter after it outsold its main rival in February and lost by only 2 units in March. With supply restrained, Porsche may even have sold more Macans if they could build them.
Another new entrant is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which was in warm-up mode in the first two months, but soared to a segment fourth place in March, outselling the X3 and GLK by a large margin. Of course, we have to consider March sales are artificially inflated in Land Rover’s home market the UK, due to the twice-yearly license plate change. Still, there’s little reason why the new Disco should sell less than its sibling Evoque, so I expect it to finish in fifth place by the end of the year, while a fourth place in its first year would make the model an instant success.
The Lexus NX is somewhat left behind, but considering the dealership count and brand recognition of the Japanese brand in Europe, it’s not even doing too bad. It’s already the best selling Lexus in Europe and has helped the brand increase its sales by a third this year.
Premium Midsized SUV segment
Range Rover Evoque
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Lexus NX (est.)
Land Rover Freelander
Premium Compact Crossover segment
Surprisingly, the Premium Compact SUV segment is down by 4% in the first quarter, after increasing 24% in 2014 upon the arrival of the Mercedes-Benz GLA. All three other models see their sales decline this year, giving the GLA the opportunity to jump into the second spot of the segment.
The recently facelifted Audi Q3 remains relatively stable at just -6%, and the model is able to hold on to its leadership, with a large margin to the GLA. The Mini Countryman and Paceman duo keeps their combined third place of the segment, despite losing a quarter of their volume on last year, because the BMW X1 fares even worse at -41%.
The all-new second generation X1 has just been revealed and it fixes the biggest problem with the X1: its awkward styling. In my opinion, the new X1 looks so much better than the outgoing model, that it should finally become a true competitor in this segment. BMW purists will cringe at the thought that it is now based on a front-wheel drive platform, but the X1 will still be available with 4WD. And to be honest: if you’re really looking for a rear-wheel drive BMW, the X1 wouldn’t have been your first choice anyways, and apparently most buyers don’t really care about it.
Of course, the future will also bring us an X2 to fill up the gaping hole in a line-up that will stretch from X1 to X7.
Premium compact crossover segment
Mini Countryman / Paceman
Click on any model to see its annual sales from 1997-2013 and monthly sales in 2012, 2013 and 2014, or use the dropdown menu in the top right of this site. Sources: Manufacturers, ANDC, JATO Dynamics.
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