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Luxury SUV sales surge continuing in 2016

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Luxury SUV sales growth continues during first five months of 2016.

Sales of luxury SUVs have surged by 54 per cent in the first five months of this year, figures released by industry statistician Vfacts show.

Luxury brands have sold more SUVs than cars this year, thanks largely to a rush of new models in the most popular segments.

Prestige sedan sales have remained static this year but overall luxury sales are up by 23 per cent. That compares with modest growth in the wider market of less than 4 per cent.

Prestige brands are also growing in popularity among SUV buyers — one in six opts for a top-end brand.

BMW is the most popular choice among luxury SUV buyers, followed by Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The most popular model is Benz’s GLC mid-sized softroader, based on the C-Class and launched late last year as an instant hit.

Filling out the minor placings are BMW’s family favourite X5 and Land Rover’s Discovery Sport, which replaced the Freelander this time last year.

Fuel bills and parking worries don’t concern the very top end of town, where land yachts costing more than $100,000 are experiencing a renaissance.

Medium SUVs, the fastest growing segment, posted sales growth of 75 per cent over the same period last year. BMW’s X3 and X4 are doing big numbers, while the likes of Lexus’s NX, Porsche’s Macan and Volvo’s XC60 also enjoy success.

Small SUV sales have grown 57 per cent, largely because of the new X1, which has almost tripled sales since its launch last year. The Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 are performing strongly.

Fuel bills and parking worries don’t concern the very top end of town, where land yachts costing more than $100,000 are experiencing a renaissance.

Bentley has already sold 10 Bentaygas, despite a price tag north of $400,000, while sales of the Lexus LX and Range Rover are up by more than a third.

Growth in this segment, running at 77 per cent, is expected to continue when the Maserati Levante arrives.

The surge in the popularity of soft-roaders has come at the expense of luxury sedans. Sales of sedans costing more than $60,000 have dropped by almost 5 per cent this year.

City runabouts from prestige brands are proving more resilient to the SUV craze.

The top-selling C-Class has been cannibalised by the GLC. The medium car’s sales are down by roughly a third.

It’s the same story at rival Audi. The new A4 launched earlier this year has failed to halt a slide in the popularity of the brand’s mainstream sedan, which is down almost 10 per cent.

That is in stark contrast with the release of a completely new top-end Q7 SUV late last year — sales this year have almost doubled.

Two of the perennial best-selling large sedans aren’t getting the numbers they once did. BMW’s 5 Series is down by more than a third and the Mercedes E-Class has dropped by 20 per cent.

City runabouts from prestige brands are proving more resilient to the SUV craze, as buyers are lured by the promise of the badge for the price of a larger mainstream car.

Sales of light cars costing more than $25,000 are up by almost 10 per cent, while smaller cars costing more than $40,000 have logged growth of nearly 15 per cent.

The star performers are Audi’s A3 (up 33 per cent) and Mercedes-Benz’s A-Class (up 16 per cent).

All the action in the sports-car market is at the very top end. Sales of sports cars costing between $80,000 and $200,000 are down 20 per cent — but there’s growth above that, largely due to improving sales of the dominant Porsche 911.

Italian rival Ferrari is having a tougher time, as Lamborghini and McLaren appear to be growing at its expense. The arrival of the circa $300,000 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT coupe is also shaking things up, propelling Mercedes-Benz to No.2 in the segment.

Top 10 Luxury cars for 2016 so far

Mercedes-Benz C-Class - 2623 - down 34 per cent
Audi A3 - 2585 - up 33 per cent
Mercedes-Benz A-Class - 2029 - up 16 per cent
BMW 3 Series - 1947 - up 18 per cent
Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class - 1557 - up 25 per cent
BMW 1 Series - 1170 - up 55 per cent
Audi A4 - 1076 - down 9 per cent
Mini hatch - 1028 - down 3 per cent
BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible - 933 - up 33 per cent
Audi A1 - 878 - up 29 per cent

Top 10 Luxury SUVs for 2016 so far

Mercedes-Benz GLC 2511 - new model
BMW X5 - 1856 - up 13 per cent
Land Rover Discovery Sport - 1832 - new model
BMW X1 - 1779 - up 280 per cent
Audi Q3 - 1706 - up 25 per cent
BMW X3 - 1601 - up 45 per cent
Lexus NX - 1424 - up 52 per cent
Mercedes-Benz GLA - 1377 - up 27 per cent
Range Rover Sport - 1321 - up 14 per cent
Audi Q7 - 1255 - up 94 per cent

Source: Vfacts

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Richard Blackburn
Motoring Editor
Richard Blackburn is a former CarsGuide contributor who has decades of experience in the motoring journalism industry. He now works as Motoring Editor for News Corp Australia, where he uses his automotive expertise to specialise in industry news.
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