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What is Australia's best selling small SUV? 2023 MG ZS and GWM Haval Jolion take on Japanese and Korean rivals like Kia Seltos, Mazda CX-30 and more

The MG ZS and GWM Haval Jolion are two of the best sellers in the small SUV segment.

SUVs made by Chinese manufacturers have climbed to the top of the SUV sales charts in some segments, leaving popular brands like Kia, Mazda and Mitsubishi in their wake.

Just a few years ago Chinese brands like MG were slowly making their presence felt, but now they are dominating one segment in particular.

Official new-vehicle sales figures revealed last week show Chinese brands are doing exceptionally well in the small SUV segment.

Sales to the end of June show the top-selling small SUV in Australia - by some margin - is the MG ZS. MG has sold 13,579 examples of its entry SUV in the first six months of the year, which is 31 per cent more than the same period last year.

The popular ZS is a price leader, too, starting from just $23,990 drive-away, while its mostly Japanese and Korean rivals climb up in price.

MG has sold double the number of units than the number two small SUV in Australia - the Mazda CX-30. Mazda has found 6098 homes for its model so far this year, which represents a 26.5 per cent dip over the corresponding period in 2022.

Following the Mazda is yet another Chinese success story, GWM (Great Wall Motors) with its Haval Jolion. A total of 5523 Jolions have been sold this year, up 82.6 per cent year-on-year.

Mazda has found 6098 homes for the CX-30 so far this year. (Image: Tom White) Mazda has found 6098 homes for the CX-30 so far this year. (Image: Tom White)

The Jolion is just six units ahead of the first Korean model on the list, the super popular Kia Seltos.

Kia has had supply issues with the Seltos but that is starting to improve so don’t expect Kia to give up without a fight.

Rounding out the top five is the resurgent Volkswagen T-Roc (4420 units) which is up by more than 260 per cent year-on-year thanks to improved supply, and the ageing Mitsubishi ASX in fifth place with 4207 sales, down by 28 per cent. Just outside the top five is the Hyundai Kona (4120, -38%), which has only just been replaced with a new model.

The other Chinese entrant making waves is the recently launched Chery Omoda 5. It’s not about to bother the top sellers - yet - but after just a few months of sales, the resurrected brand has sold 1612 units so far this year.

The ageing Mitsubishi ASX came in fifth place with 4207 sales, down by 28 per cent. (Image: Dean McCartney) The ageing Mitsubishi ASX came in fifth place with 4207 sales, down by 28 per cent. (Image: Dean McCartney)

Its June tally of 603 units was more than the Nissan Qashqai (576) and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross (534), and not far behind the Toyota Corolla Cross (664).

Looking back five years to mid-2018, the small SUV sales charts told a different story.

The top-selling small SUV in Australia in June that year was the Mitsubishi ASX. It was followed by the Mazda CX-3 (which is now considered a ‘light’ SUV), the Subaru XV, the Nissan Qashqai, and Honda HR-V. Once again the Kona sat just outside the top five in sixth spot.

The only Chinese model with any volume was the then new MG ZS, with 602 sales for the year. The Jolion’s predecessor, the unloved Haval H2, was barely registering, on 95 sales.

Chery is making waves with its recently launched Omoda 5. (Image: Chris Thompson) Chery is making waves with its recently launched Omoda 5. (Image: Chris Thompson)

Things have changed significantly, with the Chinese manufacturers offering more affordable models as the other brands push further upmarket.

With the likes of the MG5 sedan landing now, as well as more variants of the Omoda 5 coming before the end of the year, expect this trend to continue.