Success stories of 2016: Europe

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2016 and which do we expect to surprise in 2017. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. Click the following links to check back on last year’s surprises or disappointments.

1. Skoda Superb

The third generation Superb has been an instant hit, breaking all records of its predecessors. In 2016 alone, approximately 86.000 Superbs were sold (79.200 through November), one sixth of its cumulative total of 518.000 European sales in 15 years and three generations. The Superb has improved with every generation: the first generation, which basically a long wheelbase Volkswagen Passat with a Skoda grille, sold an average of 15.500 annual units during its 7-year long career. The second generation with the double trunklid took the model to the next level with an average of 46.200 annual sales in its equally long career, peaking at 56.000 in 2011. But when the third generation launched in 2015 the Superb achieved new heights: its previous annual record has been smashed by 50% and for the first time the nameplate took 2nd place in the midsized segment, behind the Passat but comfortably ahead of segment mainstays like the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo. All on the same recipe as before: value for money, conservative styling, and above average interior room.


2. Mercedes-Benz

Until 2007, Mercedes-Benz had been the virtually uncontested best selling luxury brand in Europe for decades, with the exception of two years (1992 and 1993) when BMW outsold it briefly. In 2009 Audi took over and held on to that title for 7 straight years. However, in 2016 the brand with the star logo struck back and reclaimed its crown, helped by record sales of over 800.000 units for the first time ever (770.800 through November), smashing its previous best of over 741.000 sales in 2001. This was achieved by strong sales of its compact car line-up, the launch of the new generation E-Class, a new GLC which quickly made us forget about the disappointing GLK, and an ever-expanding line-up. The GLE Coupe has given its rival BMW X6 a run for its money in its first year of sales, and 2016 also added coupe versions of the GLC, S-Class and C-Class as well as convertible versions of the latter two.


3. Volkswagen Touran and Tiguan

Volkswagen_Touran-auto-sales-statistics-EuropeDespite VW’s dominance in the compact car segment with the Golf, its crossover and MPV versions have never been able to top the charts of their respective segments. But with the second generations of both models launched last year, that has changed. For the first time ever, the Volkswagen Touran is the best selling midsized MPV, beating the two French models that have alternated for segment leadership for the past decades. The Renault Scenic may strike back in 2017 with its new generation, but in 2016 the Touran was tops. With approximately just over 110.000 sales (103.900 through November), it hasn’t come close to breaking its annual record of over 190.000 units in 2004, but that year the segment was more than twice as large in sales volume as it is now and the Scenic sold a whopping 319.000 copies vs. less than 80.000 in 2016.

The Tiguan hasn’t (yet) been able to knock the Nissan Qashqai off its full-year throne, but it did outsell the long-standing segment leader in August, October, November and most likely in December and has hit record sales for the nameplate, bringing it closer than ever to the segment top spot and indicating 2017 may be the first time the perennial #2 of the segment has a shot at dethroning the #1.


What are your surprises of 2016? And do you have a brand or model in mind that may surprise next year? Let me know in the comments below.

  1. I think the 3008 will continue to build on the success of the 308. Leaving the more staid consumer to buy the VW or Nissan. Who will then move onto a Skoda when a better offering is available.

  2. I think that Captur is also a big winner of 2016. Without FL it is leading charts and expanding the gap between the competitors.

    Other big winners: Astra, Fiat (500 and Tipo)

  3. Other winners:
    Fiat. The Fiat 500X and the Fiat Tipo have propelled the sales of the brand. If they replace the Punto in 2017 and launch a compact SUV in 2017 they may very well increase sales a lot more.

    Renault. They released an enormous number of new models. The new Mégane doubled the sales of the previous generation, the Talisman is a solid entry in the midsize sector and is selling well for a non-german and premium offering.

    Things to look for in 2017:
    Peugeot 3008/5008. It has the potential to become a segment best-seller and to steal sales from the Qashqai and stem the sales growth of the Tiguan/Ateca/Kodiaq trio.

    New Citroen C3. It has the potential to become a B-segment best seller.

    Alfa Romeo. With Giulia production stabilizing and new more powerful engine variants arriving it will be interesting to see if its sales will stabilize around the 2000 units per month. Also will we see a station wagon? How wil the Stelvio behave commercially?

    1. “The new Mégane doubled the sales of the previous generation”,
      Megane isn’t even in top3 in compact segment…

      “the Talisman is a solid entry in the midsize sector and is selling well for a non-german and premium offering.”
      Talisman sales…lol 😀 so poor figures compare to Superb which is the real solid entry in the midsize sector and is real selling well

      1. Instead of picking on my comments and Renault why don’t you stick to the topic and state what you consider to be the winners of the segment?

    2. Hi Pedro,
      good point about the Fiat Tipo. It would surely have been on this list if it had topped 80.000 sales, similar to its predecessor Bravo in 2007, but with 52.700 sales in 11 months, I don’t see that happening. That doesn’t mean I don’t consider the Tipo a welcome success for the Fiat brand, I absolutely do and I hope it continues this performance (even replacing the Dodge Dart in the US as the Dodge Neon, as the Tipo is already called in Mexico, the Middle East and other markets), but it’s not an outright success which has blown all of our expectations. In fact, 68% of our readers expected the Tipo to sell over 75.000 units in Europe, of which almost half expect it to reach 100.000+ sales in 2017. With 58.900 sales through November, a full-year result of nearly 66.500 units in 2016 is nothing to be ashamed of as a compact Italian nameplate, and I get the point that for most of the year only the sedan has been available, while the hatchback and station wagon have more potential in the rest of (non-Mediterranean) Europe, I don’t feel like the Tipo has exceeded expectations by a large enough margin to feature it among our success stories.

      1. Thanks for the reply Bart!
        Yes, unfortunately Tipo sales suffered because the hatch was only available since May if I’m not mistaken and the station wagon from September.
        In that regard the Mégane was a much bigger success. If they had focused on launching the hatch first I think they would’ve equaled the Bravo sales. Nevertheless, I think in 2017 with a full year of sales it will top 100k sales. Thanks for the reasoning.

  4. Renault as a brand in 2016 is for sure a success story.
    I think there’s a more to come from new Megane in 2017. Beside him new Scenic should have nice sales, and Captur FL should guarantee nice year for a Renault…
    Model wise:
    Sportage\Tuscon had a really good year…
    Tiguan very nice end of the year(at the expense of Passat)…
    Panda good sales for a model without any facelift..

    In next year i expect a Kodiaq is gonna be a big hit(at the expense of Superb), Ateca (Leon falling…), i30, probably new Fiesta also.

    1. Hi Goran,

      good points you make there. Especially about the Panda: in its 5th year of sales, it has reached record sales of the current generation and it beats the Fiat 500 for the first time since 2012. However, I’m a bit sceptical about this performance, because the Panda depends on its home market Italy for 77,3% of its sales, so it’s not a pan-European success, especially considering the Italian market has been influenced a lot by short-term rental orders, which happen to favor the Panda as well, as one of the cheapest cars on the market.

      1. Yeah i see your point.
        Weak Italian market = weak Panda sales. Do you know maybe this home market share for previous model from 2003?(it’s probably very hard to have this data, but still maybe…).
        It would be interesting to have this home market share(for example of 10 most sold models in Europe) during last couple of years. it would be interesting to see how market’s were evolving during crisis, and how many more customer’s turned to their own home brands…

      2. Hi Goran, I get your point about Fiat Panda sales depending on its home market, so here are the figures of how important the Italian market was for the previous generation Panda:
        Year: % of European sales sold in Italy
        2003: 62,1%
        2004: 51,4%
        2005: 59,5%
        2006: 64,2%
        2007: 67,9%
        2008: 66,4%
        2009: 74,7%
        2010: 58,9%
        2011: 61,4%
        2012: 63,7%
        2013: 66,6%
        2014: 68,7%
        2015: 73,5%
        2016: 77,3%

        As you can see, since its relaunch the Panda has depended on its home market for approximately 2/3 of its total sales, but that share has increased in the past two years, culminating in a record of 77,3% of sales in 2016, one of the highest percentages in the industry. These numbers prove that the Panda’s home market Italy more than accounts for the model’s increased sales, while the model loses volume in the rest of Europe.

  5. Skoda was saved by the Superb last year, because the start wasn’t very promising. But like the Passat the Superb benefits from a high percentage of corporate sales. Especially in Germany. That’s why the Mazda6 e.g. struggles in Europe.

    Mercedes-Benz keeps improving. Part of that has to do with a wide range of cars. Over the years top brands have levelled their portfolio so of course they will grow in numbers.

    Other winners are Opel, Fiat, Renault and, to a lesser extent, Kia.

  6. Two successes I would indicate
    1) new Opel Astra – maybe it has not been a huge surprise, but Astra claimed back its position by improving sales by 30% and outselling Octavia/Focus/308. I also name Astra because most of its prodiction is located in Poland 😉
    2) Others also mentioned it but Renault for “full year achievement” 🙂 Increase in sales (and what even more important in market share), several brand new models, good outlook for 2017.

  7. I miss the Peugeot 3008 on your raking.
    What I totally disagree is with seeing the Touran and Tiguan on the Top 3. Seems VW is trying to reach a contest of the most boring desing ever!!!!

    1. Hi Joao,

      I totally agree with you on the design of the Touran and Tiguan, but this list is about sales successes, not esthetic success. And no matter how boring their designs are to some of us, they seem to appeal to a large audience.
      About the 3008: it hasn’t yet been a success story in 2016, except for the last few months with the new generation, but ( hint, hint 😉 ) you may find it in our predictions for 2017….

  8. Surely Renault was a winner when it comes to “brands”. They have strong representatives in all segments.

    But model-wis, I think Captur is a behemoth. breaking record after record. Leading European SUV segment, whereas competitors are after FL already.

    1. “They have strong representatives in all segments.”

      What a bullsh*t.
      Espace and Talisman are failures in theirs segments, Megane and Kadjar aren’t in top 3 in theirs segments.
      ‘in all segments.” – where is Renault in E and F segment? Large suvs like VW Touareg?

      Caputur is the cheapest car in small crossovers segment – that’s why it sells well. Cheap made car with poor interior quality – awfull plastics

      1. @Bazooka
        You seem troubled by Renault’s good results – any specific reason for that? If Renault was so hopeless, they wouldn’t become 2nd biggest brand in Europe with increasing market share (partially reclaimed from VW, BTW).

      2. @Bazooka

        Stop being just a hater and try to look more objectively.

        Talisman, Megane, Scenic -> were not available full year. This is stupidity to compare their full year results with others. Just take a look at November and you will see the potential.

        Espace is not present at UK. Even though it is in top 3.

        Captur isn’t the cheapest model in this segment 🙂 And it wins many tests (of course not in Auto-Bild).

        Renault is strong in every segment (yes, not E-F only premium segment), that’s why so good result. Numbers are enough explanation here.

        Next year will be interresting with new Scenic, Captur FL, Koleos and full potential of Megane and Talisman.

      3. “Talisman, Megane
        Just take a look at November and you will see the potential.”

        What potential? Both of them aren’t in top3 in their segments in november. Even Skodas from small Czech Republic sell better in Europe.

        “Espace is not present at UK. Even though it is in top 3.”

        “a direct competitor to the Ford S-Max and the VW Group twins Volkswagen Sharan and Seat Alhambra. And compared to those models, the Espace V shows a pretty weak performance(..) In its first full year of sales, the Espace was unable to climb onto the segment podium, beaten fairly and squarely by the also new S-Max, but more embarrassingly by the already 6-year old Sharan AND Alhambra. Even if we take out the UK volume for those other models, the Espace would be in fourth place, albeit very close behind the two twins.Espace lost year-over-year volume in every month of the second half of the year, so it’s already in a downward trend.”

        This is all what we can say in Espace topic. Espace = Failure. The same with Talisman – fresh model can’t beat old Insignia, Mondeo. And Superb is far before… Passat and premium midsized cars are far far before… Renault has terrible reputation, terrible depreciation – almost no one wants to buy those vehicles, that’s why Renault had to escape with its big cars from UK. Fatal reputation – This is answer why sales of Espace and Talisman is so weak.

        Of course funny Renault fanatics like ToJa are blind for poor sales figures for Espace and Talisman – low numbers are enough explanation here. Shame of you liars for stupid writing about good results for both cars.

        The only Renault models which have good sales results are Clio and Captur but they are very cheap in their segments, they are cheap made, and interiors in both of them is just ugly and has poor quality.

        Even Korean suvs have better sales figures than Renault Kadjar in Europe

      4. @Bazooka

        “Of course funny Renault fanatics like ToJa are blind for poor sales figures for Espace and Talisman – low numbers are enough explanation here. Shame of you liars for stupid writing about good results for both cars.”

        There are no Renault fanatics here. However, there’s obvously one Renault hater that can’t stand other people pointing to Renault as a success. They’re the 2nd most sold brand in Europe so they’re doing something right.

        Again, tell me what do you consider as successes in 2016 instead of picking on other people. Or are you going to keep ignoring the topic to attack other people’s opinion?

      5. @Pedro

        Leave him alone. Do not feed the hater. He will just go personal again, offending others instead of exchanging opinions.

  9. @Bazooka
    Guess which manufacturer/brand are 2016 biggest winners? if being in top3 is so important to you, where is Skoda or Korean brands?

    You have not been inside any of cars you are naming,
    Design and quality of new Renaults have been constantly improving. Skoda/VW may be solid cars, but both outside and inside they still feel like 1990’s 🙂 Also, you are wrong about pricing – I briefly checked Clio pricelist and it is in no way cheaper then ie Corsa, Fabia, i20 or Fiesta. It wouldn’t make sense anyway – Dacia is supposed to be the cheap brand in Renault group.
    You don’t like Renault for some reason – it’s your business, but at least stop making things up.

  10. Of course some find the Renault Talisman a winner. It’s mainly build by Mercedes. Mercedes has been in every area of production of this car to make sure, quality is German. It takes a German to build German cars. Of course. It wouldn’t be a quality success if it was 100% French made.

    “Daimler experts visited the plant in Douai, France, where the Talisman is built to examine quality control and perceived quality but said there are no Daimler components in the car.”

    But claiming it’s a huge success with only 4113 sold in November after 15 months on sale, that’s most definitely not a huge success. Sorry.

    1. Yes. Talisman is a big question for next year. The launch was very slow. Grandtour version became truly available since September. Not present at GB. Not targeted to business. The first month of new years will show if this is a success or not.

      New Mondeo and Avensis are not selling very good either. This segment is very difficult. Besides that Renault needs to rebuild the position after the “Laguna reputation”. That’s why I think 4k monthly is not a bad result and one cannot say it is a failure.

      The segment in general is shrinking. I’m looking forward to see new Insignia, if it will threaten Superb (maily corporate sales).

      1. Yeah, I think Renault can be satisfied with the early Talisman sales. 2017 will be its first year; Estate in full swing.

        It’s very difficult for non-German brands to become a bestseller in today’s D-segment. First of all, Germany has the largest market for these cars. Second, the numbers are enormously artificial, because e.g. VW Group and Daimler own and/or cooperate with multiple (international) leasing companies. Of course other brands do this too but to a much, much, much lesser extent. That’s why the Superb has risen to the top. The relationship with the Passat helps Skoda to ‘force’ their Superb more into the market (like VW does with the Passat, 92% of German Passats are corporate sales) than e.g. Mazda or Hyundai are able to.

    2. @Martin C – Today it takes French engines (Renault-Daimler and PSA-BMW partnerships) and interiors (Faurecia delivers to almost all German brands) to build German cars. Merci et au revoir!

      1. The BMW-PSA adventure has ended, and was only for the Prince engine used in the Mini. The engine was build in the UK. Nor PSA or BMW uses that engine anymore. That parts was from France. The engine was a constant headache, so jointly, production was ended. Just as Ford has moved on and dropped a large part of the PSA engines.

  11. Well. Personally. I really don’t care about French cars. Would even never consider buying one, just as I’ll never buy a Mercedes with the hatefull 1.6 DCi engine again (C200d) or the A class 1,5 DCi, but thumbs up to Mercedes for marketing the cars and showel in buyers on that account, but i felt cheated when I was overtaken by a Dacia Lodgy, knowing it had the same engine for 1/3 of the price.

    1. Well, at the end of the day I’d rather drive a Benz which shares its engine with Dacia than a VW, Seat, Skoda, Audi or Porsche with a fraudulent engine. I don’t dislike German cars, love BMW. But VAG? Overrated, boring cars. Yawn.

      1. By fraudelent do you also include the oil scandal on the PSA 1,2 82 bhp petrol engine? 1 liter oil for every 1000 km? That’s high and really a smooth engine. And even cars under warranty didn’t Citroen/Peugeot cover the full cost of the new engines when they were destroyed by running out of oil after 3000 km. Only be pressure from Danish Car Buyers Assistance, PSA admitted the flaw and changed the production in November 2016. Also promissing to cover the cost for the Danish buyers and launching a recall programme later in 2017.

        Or does fraudelent also cover the police investigations against Renault for cheating with diesel emissions?

  12. Actually its TSI/TFSI to be notorious for oil consumption (too thin piston rings problem)

    As to emmission:
    On Renault side – investigation without any results and proofs so far
    On VAG side – admittance of cheating over 10 million car owners. Plus worse treating of its European customers than in US.
    I don’t think it’s comparable 🙂

    1. The TDI also uses a lot of oil. Even when it is new (below 50k km).

      VAG fault with diesels is not that diesel produces contamination. The fraud was the software. During the test the engine was running on different software, than during normal driving. This was the fraud.

      Other brands may have different contamination during driving, but the software is the same, just optimised to look good during tests.

      1. You’re spot on! All brands use software which is supposed to be legal. VW Group knowingly committed fraud by having Audi develop manipulation software back in 1999 which was applied company-wide in millions of different cars with different engines. Recently VAG admitted that Audi also developed fraudulent software for multiple automatic gearboxes to circumvent emission laws. Ergo: VAG has a corrupt corporate culture.

  13. November 10th, 2016:


    “Renault faces a criminal probe in France after the country’s consumer fraud agency passed a file to prosecutors detailing suspicions its engines had broken emissions laws, the government said, sending the carmaker’s shares lower on Thursday.

    The industry ministry said late on Wednesday the DGCCRF consumer fraud agency had sent prosecutors the findings of its inquiry into possible emissions test manipulations by Renault, opened in the wake of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal.”

  14. Reading the comments here, being a VAG hater must be hard. Everybody stood on the side, clapping and awaited VW going out of buisness. Didn’t happen. The biggest winner this year must be VW. Being able to gain marketshare again 14 months after the scandal, that’s a big achievement and a big disappointment for alle those, who begged and prayed for the collapse of VW.

    In Denmark VW increased sales by 18% in 2016 and is no. 1 in all segments, and that is after a year with massive advertisement from Renault, Citroen and Peugeot. All the good old Peugeot commercials with “Buy a car. Four wheels and some seats…..”

    1. But in general VAG, especially VW looses share in 2016. But agree, the scandal didn’t have big impact. In 2017 they might strike back with new Polo, Tiguan (at full speed).

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