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by Tim Beissmann

Small cars have once again dominated new vehicle sales in 2012, with the Mazda3 leading the way in its second straight year as Australia’s favourite car.

Four of the top six models sold across the country last year belonged to the small-car segment – Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Holden Cruze, Hyundai i30 – while strong sales of three more – Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf, Mitsubishi Lancer – gave the compact class seven nameplates inside the top 18.

A total of 252,167 small cars were sold in Australia in 2012 – a figure that represented 22.7 per cent of the total market, which last year rose to a new record of 1,112,032.

Although sales of small cars increased 3.3 per cent from 2011’s tally, the small-car segment’s share of the market as a whole dipped slightly as customers ordered SUVs and four-wheel-drive utes in greater numbers than the previous year.

The Mazda3 and Corolla look set to fight a fierce battle for sales supremacy next year, with Toyota looking to build momentum following the launch of its all-new hatch in October, and Mazda preparing to counter with the third-gen 3 later in 2013.

It’s daylight from the Japanese duo to the locally manufactured Cruze in third place, which started the year strongly but hit a roadblock in the second half. Between January and June, Holden sold 16,437 Cruzes and was tracking 0.7 per cent ahead of 2011, but just 12,724 sales between July and December saw Australia’s small car finish the year 13.7 per cent in the red.

The i30 slipped backwards slightly in 2012 although the Cruze’s more dramatic decline meant the second-generation Korean hatchback missed the podium by just 813 units.

A 44.5 per cent increase saw the Focus rocket into fifth place in the small-car segment and 10th in the overall market. The eighth-placed Civic and ninth-placed Elantra were other big winners in 2012, with sales increasing 76.1 per cent and 90.1 per cent respectively, while the Golf, Lancer and Subaru Impreza all lost ground.

 

Top 20 best-selling small cars – 2012

  1. Mazda3 – 44,128 (+6.5 per cent)
  2. Toyota Corolla – 38,799 (+7.5 per cent)
  3. Holden Cruze – 29,161 (–13.7 per cent)
  4. Hyundai i30 – 28,348 (–1.8 per cent)
  5. Ford Focus – 18,586 (+44.5 per cent)
  6. Volkswagen Golf – 17,289 (–6.0 per cent)
  7. Mitsubishi Lancer – 15,321 (–18.1 per cent)
  8. Honda Civic – 11,442 (+76.1 per cent)
  9. Hyundai Elantra – 8697 (+90.1 per cent)
  10. Subaru Impreza – 8407 (–24.0 per cent)
  11. Kia Cerato – 7881 (+28.9 per cent)
  12. Nissan Tiida – 3059 (–14.5 per cent)
  13. Mercedes-Benz B-Class – 2035 (–8.0 per cent)
  14. Suzuki SX4 – 1989 (+4.3 per cent)
  15. BMW 1 Series – 1920 (+59.9 per cent)
  16. Toyota Prius – 1797 (+118.6 per cent)
  17. Audi A1 – 1782 (–1.3 per cent)
  18. Lexus CT200h – 1500 (+14.4 per cent)
  19. Mini Cooper Hatch/Clubman – 1475 (–11.1 per cent)
  20. Renault Megane – 1125 (+15.9 per cent)