The premium midsized car segment continues to grow steadily in Q1 of 2016, but slower than the overall market, at +3%. That’s a big difference with the US, where the segment has shrunk a worrying 20% this quarter. The ranking is pretty stable, with no changes in the top-4, even though last year’s leader, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the biggest loser of the top-8, at -10%. Even the relatively old BMW 3-series manages to grow sales, while the freshly renewed Audi A4 is the biggest gainer of the top players at +12%, which should increase further as the year progresses, and I see the A4 threatening the C-Class for segment leadership by the end of the year. The only two times the nameplate has led the segment this millennium were 2005 and 2008, but this year and next are the only shot it has, as BMW is expected to launch the new generation 3-series at the end of 2017.
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 BMW 4-series coupe, convertible and gran coupe lose 5% but stay well ahead of the Audi A5, which is due to be replaced by the new generation, getting a similar treatment as the A4, meaning a few sharper lines but nothing earthshaking in the exterior design. Despite its imminent replacement, the A5 remains impressively stable, like the A4 did last year as well. This helps it grab the #5 spot from the Volvo S60/V60, down 8%. In 7th place we welcome a newcomer, the Jaguar XE, which is the same position it held in 2015, and the gap to the Volvo is too large to expect the Jag to enter the top-6 anytime soon. Maybe if the British brand would consider making a station wagon, as the XE sedan does outsell the Volvo S60 by a better than 3-to-1 ratio. The DS5 recovers with sales up 14% after its facelift, moving past the Volkswagen CC, which doesn’t seem to have a future within the VW brand. At the bottom of the ranking we see the Lexus RC starting to gain traction after the mainstream models became available, as the Japanese coupe started sales with the top-of-the-line RC F version. Later this year, we can finally welcome the eagerly awaited Alfa Romeo Giulia to the segment, but don’t expect that to shake up the entire segment.
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