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What financial crisis? Are Australians buying sports cars like the Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5 and Nissan Z now before electric cars take over?

Sales of more affordable models like the Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5 and more have increased so far this year.

It’s no secret that times are tough at the moment. We are hearing the words ‘cost of living crisis’ a lot and for good reason. Everything seems very expensive these days and, understandably, people are being careful with how they spend their money.

So why are so many people buying sports cars?

Sports car sales have gone through the roof in Australia, and it’s not just affordable models that are being snapped up.

There are a number of reasons for this recent uptick. One is that a bunch of new models have launched in the past year or so, and the general trend for sports car sales is that they go gangbusters in their first year on sale and then plummet after that.

The other factor could be that motoring enthusiasts are keen to pick up a petrol-powered performance machine now because this could well be their last chance.

With most automotive manufacturers pivoting to electrification out of necessity, it’s likely that you won’t be able to buy many - if any - petrol-powered sports cars in 10 years' time.

At the very least there will be more hybrid roadsters and the like in the coming years, but in 2030, the vast majority of sporty models will be EVs.

But back in the here and now, sports car sales have increased by 37.8 per cent year on year, to the end of October. In fact, just over 10,000 sports cars have found homes in that period, which is not an insignificant number.

So what models are prompting this latest spike in interest?

Looking at the more affordable end of the sports car segment - under $80,000 - every single model except one has seen at least double-digit growth.

That one holdout is the outgoing Ford Mustang, which is in run-out and has very limited stock left over ahead of the new-gen version arriving in the New Year.

BMW’s still fresh 2 Series is up by 94 per cent year on year with 895 units sold, and the Mini Cabrio is having a renaissance before it bows out, with a 68 per cent swing and 304 sales.

Mazda’s ageing MX-5 is up by 27 per cent so far this year, finding 509 homes, and the new Nissan Z has clearly had an impact, increasing by 446 per cent over the same period last year for 404 sales.

The Subaru BRZ/Toyota GR86 twins are also having a stellar year. The Subaru (1399, +51.1%) is outselling the Toyota (936, +588%) by about 460 units, but interest in the 86 is through the roof.

Sports cars over $80k are also experiencing growth, and it’s not necessarily new metal that’s responsible for the uptick.

Models that have been around a while, and even some that are close to the end of their life cycles, are proving popular, although they might not achieve the same volume as their more affordable rivals.

Some of those models include the soon to depart Audi TT (88, +144.4%), the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Cabrio (730, +43.4%) that’s about to be replaced by the CLE, Porsche’s Boxster (126, +44.8%) and Cayman (259, +156.4%) twins, and the Toyota Supra (211, +101%).

Even more exotic fare like the Chevrolet Corvette (274, +42%) and Lexus LC (61, +60.5%) are having a good year.

Tough economic times rarely have an impact on the top end of town and that remains the case in the sports car segment, with some marques in the over-$200,000 category doing exceptionally well this year.

Sports car models from Bentley (82, +14%), Lamborghini (128, +88.2%) and McLaren (78, +50%) have all increased so far this year.

Whether this trend continues remains to be seen, but it’s clear the gloomy economic outlook is, for now, not dampening people’s desire for fun cars.

Tim Nicholson
Managing Editor
Calling out the make and model of every single car he saw as a toddler might have challenged his parents’ patience, but it was clearly a starting point for Tim...
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