Sales in the premium compact segment rose by 30% compared to 2014, a standout performance amongst all premium segments, most of which saw sales fall between 2014 and 2015. Such a high growth rate was possible thanks to just two models increasing their sales by over 60% compared to last year, which made a big difference in a segment that is comprised of only four models. Sales in 2015 came close to but did not breach 100,000 units, less than a fifth of what carmakers sell in the premium mid-sized segment in the US, and only around a ninth of what carmakers sell in this segment in Europe.
Audi A3 is one of the two models which saw very quick growth in 2015, seeing its sales rise by 62% compared to 2014, which allowed it to overtake the Mercedes-Benz CLA for the segment lead. This success is driven primarily by the introduction last year of the four-door version of the A3 in addition to the 5-door version that was available previously, and confirms that US customers are much fonder of sedans than hatchbacks, especially in the premium arena.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA may have been relegated to second spot, but by no means should it be viewed as a loser of the segment – its sales still grew by 8% year-on-year. This was enough for the CLA to further open up the gap to third-placed Acura ILX. The ILX, a posh cousin of the Honda Civic, saw it sales rise by 4% compared to 2014, which was in fact the worst performance of the segment.
In fourth, and final spot, is the BMW 2-series, despite the highest-in-segment growth rate in sales of 77%. While this growth is an illustration of how much better received the 2nd generation of the model has been in the US, its position in the charts shows why BMW will replace the current model with a FWD successor. In its current RWD form, the BMW is simply too compromised to compete effectively with more space-efficient and economic FWD models, although it is for many enthusiasts the model to go for in this segment. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see whether the 2 series manages to overtake the aging ILX for third place in 2016.
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
In addition, let us engage with a bit of crystal-ball gazing. As I mentioned earlier, the premium compact segment is almost nine times larger in terms of sales in Europe than it is in the US, and at least part of this must be explained by a wider variety of models available on the old continent. So, here is the question to you, dear readers:
Which premium compact model would do best in the US?
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