At +4% in Q1 of 2016, sales of compact cars in Europe grew at a similar rate as the minicar and subcompact segments, at half the growth rate of the overall market. The perennial leader Volkswagen Golf is still firmly in control despite losing 2% of its volume on last year. Its nearest competitor from a year ago, the Ford Focus, also loses a percent and is overtaken by the surging Opel/Vauxhall Astra, up 30% thanks to the new generation. That still leaves the Golf untouchable, selling more than the #2 and #3 combined, but at least the competition doesn’t sit still like in the midsized segment. The Skoda Octavia is kicked off the podium, which it has impressively held for two years. And the Peugeot 308 is closing in quickly, as it already did in the final months of 2015. The Seat Leon is surprisingly stable and stays ahead of the facelifted Toyota Auris, while the Renault Megane is the biggest loser of the top-10 and drops a spot as it awaits the arrival of the new, fourth generation.
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
The two South-Korean entries take position as the backmarkers of the top-10, the Hyundai i30 gains 9% to leapfrog its sibling Kia Cee’d, down 2% and also the Skoda Rapid, down 13%. Meanwhile the Honda Civic is enjoying a nice improvement of 16% and the facelifted Citroën C4 gains 11%, both move past the Nissan Pulsar and Mazda3, which lose about 30% of their volume. We welcome a newcomer to the segment: the Fiat Tipo in 16th place with almost 7.500 sales in startup mode. Almost half of this volume was registered in March, indicating some upward potential for the model, especially after the hatchback and station wagon versions arrive later this year. Fiat’s value model won’t challenge the top-8 players but should be able to do better than its unfortunate predecessors Bravo and Stilo. So far, the Tipo appears to be the best selling sedan model in the segment, considering the bulk of Rapid sales are of the five-door Spaceback version. The Toyota Corolla, Citroën C-Elysee and Seat Toledo are already beaten fair and square.
The Nissan Leaf EV is boosted by the upgraded version with a 30kWh battery for more range and gains 21% this quarter to take distance from the Volkswagen Beetle, while the new generation Prius hybrid takes off with a 72% increase. We’ll keep an eye on its development in the coming months to see if the Prius name really is so strong that people are prepared to forgive its awkward design and only shop for fuel economy.
Also check out the compact car segment in the US, where the Nissan Sentra grabs third place behind the traditional leaders Civic and Corolla to make it an all-Japanese podium for the first time ever.
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