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)

  • Al Tungupon

    Do Lancer sales include the Evo?

  • 42 = The Answer

    The total for Holden’s Cruze was 29161 which still puts it around the same figure as the Asta did back in 08. Come on Holden, you need to push it more! Bring on the 2013 refresh!

    • H man

      Mate, the Cruze is doing remarkably well to be on the podium considering its one of if not the worst car in the top ten.

      • Zaccy16

        exactly, lucky that the aussie public will buy anything with a holden badge even though its rubbish!

        • John

          Do you get bored saying the same nonsense about Holdens over and over again? Since it’s the only ‘small car’ made in Australia, it would sell plenty to fleets. In fact every fleet that buys a small car should buy a Cruze over anything else due to it being made here. On the car itself, there’s nothing wrong with it, it does it’s job as transport without being spectacular. Actually drive one before being so harsh as you constantly are.

  • Luke Brinsmead

    Gee the Impreza and Lancer are not doing well. How come the Elantra has become popular all of a sudden? I know why the Focus has…a couple of thousand make all the difference in this segment. The Prius +118.6%, surely that’s a typo. New Civic is finally doing well, and the 1 Series seems to be luring luxury downsizers.

    • Sydlocal

       Elantra = Hertz/Avis/Europcar etc etc etc! 😉

      • Stop_the_boats


    • Showtime

      The Lancer is over 5 years old and needs a new model to boost sales. The Impreza on the other hand is suffering because its poor value for money compared to other rivals. Maybe if the Impreza and XV sales were combined it would show a better picture.

      • Yetiman

        I like Subaru but I don’t like their service intervals (every 6 months and no price capping).

      • Zaccy16

        yeah Subaru need to offer a 2wd version to be competitive in pricing

        • John

          They’re a bit stubborn in that aspect I think

    • The Real Wile E

      A recent CA article said the 1 series was overdue for an upgrade due to declining sales.
      If it is up 60% for the year then recent monthly sales must have collapsed.
      Hard to believe really.

    • Asdf

      Hyundai probably filled a few big Elantra orders from the rental companies.

  • Darryl

    Should that be Audi A3 not A1? That is in the class below.

  • Garrywhopper

    Quite obvious people are scared off by the VW’s reliability problems and high service costs? I’m afraid they are not worth the risk

    • Golfmother

      Thats why VW sales keep falling gary floppy , oh wait no they are rising and GM’s are falling.

      • Gtrxu1

        Golf sales down 6℅ this year.Focus outsold Golf and another German in town Opel.

        • Luke Brinsmead

          Well dur, everyone knows there’s a new Golf coming soon and are holding off. The Astra is new kid in town so of course it’s going to be popular at first.

          • Gtrxu1

            Mk7 Golf is the classic Whitegoods on wheels.Golf sales will fall further when the mk7 is released.

          • Sydlocal

             Time will tell I guess.

      • Garrywhopper

        Correct the Golf sales are down, I’d say because of the poor reliabilitty, sky hig service costs and expensive repairs,eg gearboxes

        • Sdfg

           So does that mean the Lancer is 3 times worse for reliability, service costs and repairs?

          • Garrywhopper

            Yes, if you have a simple view of the world

  • Gtrxu1

    Hasn’t Mitsubishi Colt fallen down in sales.Won of the longest running small cars in Australia,since the early 1970″s

    • Sdfghg

       Yes, products generally do fall down in sales when you stop manufacturing/selling them.

  • F1orce

    My forecast for January 2013 ;

    #1 Toyota Corolla
    #2 Hyundai i30
    #3 Mazda 3

    • Sydlocal

      Or maybe;

      #1 Corolla
      #2 Hilux
      #3 Mazda3 (I don’t see the i30 jumping an extra +30% on 2012’s sales figure, especially considering the new model Mazda3 is due out this year)