Sales of midsized premium SUVs in Europe continue to boom with a fourth consecutive year of double digit growth, of which the last three years showed at least 20% growth. In 2017, the segment grew by 21% to a record 492.500 sales, or 3,2% of the overall European car market, up from 2,7% in 2016. The first nameplate in this segment to top 100.000 annual sales is the Mercedes-Benz GLC, a runaway success for the brand which had struggled with the unsuccessful GLK until just a few years ago. Keep in mind these figures include sales of the GLC Coupe version, as the GLC would be in second place with just over 85.000 sales without the Coupe. Then again, its closest rival and former segment leader Volvo XC60 benefits from also having 2 different versions available for a few months after the arrival of the new generation. Especially in its home market Sweden the outgoing XC60 was continued to be sold at reduced prices alongside the new version, allowing it to become the best selling model there for the first time ever. Still, it’s impressive how the model was able to finish on such a high note, setting three consecutive annual sales records at the end of its life cycle and then extending that to a fourth record during the year of the model change to the new generation. It will be interesting to see if the new XC60 can continue this strong showing, considering the nameplate was down 11% in the fourth quarter when production of the first generation finally ended.
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 Audi Q5 holds the final spot of the segment podium with stable sales on last year, even though it too was replaced by a new generation. The top-3 controls 57% of the segment and distances the rest of the players. The closest rival is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the only model in this class that has a 7-seater option, followed by the BMW X3, down 13% as the new generation arrived early 2018. The Jaguar F-Pace lands at #7 in its first full year of sales, ahead of the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. The Lexus NX continues to improve as it has done for each of the 3 years it’s been on the market, but it was outsold in the fourth quarter by the newcomers Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Range Rover Velar. These two should be able to reach similar levels as the Macan and come close to the F-pace in 2018. In fact, the Stelvio was in 8th place in Q4 thanks to a 6th place in November.
In 2018 we’ll welcome the second generation BMW X4 and a new Infiniti QX50 with the very interesting Variable Compression engine.
One segment smaller, sales continue to rise even faster at +25% to 455.000 units, or 2,9% of the overall market, up from 2,4% in 2016. Only 2 nameplates lose volume and we welcome no less than 4 all-new nameplates to the ranking this year, with 3 new brands entering the segment. Exciting times indeed! The segment leader BMW X1 has been undeterred by the new arrivals, growing at almost the same pace as the segment and holding a 25,9% share. Its closesr rival Audi Q3 is the biggest loser of the segment with a loss of 17% or 8,5 percentage points of share and there are two explanations for this: firstly the Q3 is due for a redesign in 2018 and secondly it faces some cannibalization from its cheaper sibling Audi Q2. The Q2 storms up the charts to the #2 spot and gives Audi a combined 34,7% share of the segment. However, the Q2 was outsold in the fourth quarter by the facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLA, up 9% for the year and not far behind the two Audis. The Range Rover Evoque is knocked down to 5th place with sales down 11% and is distanced by the Germans. Its fellow Brit Mini Countryman adds 25% thanks to the new generation. It grew 82% in the last quarter and outsold the Evoque for that period. The addition of a plug-in hybrid version should boost the Countryman further in 2018. The Infiniti QX30 disappoints in its first full year, unable to make any kind of threat to the established players.
We have welcomed the DS7 Crossback, Jaguar E-Pace, BMW X2 and Volvo XC40 to the segment this year. Of these, the XC40 is the most promising, followed by the E-Pace while the DS7 will face an uphill battle as the brand still needs to work on its brand recognition and image. The X2 is an outlier, hard to predict how it will perform. On one hand it’s even more expensive than the X1 so it won’t challenge for the lead, but on the other hand it has a BMW badge so it will sell in droves regardless. I think it should get about even with the Evoque in terms of volume.
In 2018 we’ll see the second generations of the Q3 and Evoque, Mercedes is expected to launch the GLB, with a more square and rugged design than the GLA and perhaps most interestingly we’ll get a dedicated EV in this segment with the Jaguar I-Pace. Oh, and perhaps Cadillac will ship a handful of units of the XT4 our way.
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