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by Matt Campbell

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I’m constantly amazed at the number of cars on the market in Australia, not to mention the vast variety of brands to choose from.

There a dozens of cars that never fail to make waves on the sales charts, and after six months of new car registrations in Australia, the usual suspects are riding on the back of what could be a record year.

But there are cars that don’t attract as many buyers as they should, those vehicles that often rank well in our comparison tests but seemingly don’t have as much of an impact on buyers.

It could be that they’re from brands that are somewhat unknown, or they’re built somewhere that cars of previous generations may have suffered bad long-term ownership reputations with. (You’ll notice a theme with this list…).

Whatever the case, here’s our list of the ten best cars that Aussies aren’t buying. The higher the car’s rank, the better the team at CarAdvice think it is (based on our reviews).

  1. Peugeot 308
    Sales so far in 2015: 854
    Our ratings: between 8/10 and 9/10

2014-pug308-golf-mazda3-comparison-42

For those after something with French flair and the form factor of a small hatch or wagon, Peugeot’s 308 delivers in spades.

It is good-looking, refined, comfortable, classy and among the best in the class in terms of driver enjoyment, but buyers aren’t loving the 308. The Touring model accounts for about a third of all 308 sales, and that demand has caught Peugeot a bit by surprise.

Admittedly, Peugeot has priced it at a premium to the mainstream competition, and there are plenty of great deals to be done on a Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla or Mazda 3… and that’s why those cars are leading the sales in the segment.

  1. Skoda Octavia
    Sales so far in 2015: 2014 including Scout
    Our ratings: between 7.5 and 9/10

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The Skoda Octavia isn’t struggling on the sales charts, but the Czech mid-sized model deserves even better fortunes.

Most of the demand is for the wagon, and we know also that the RS model is extremely popular with buyers, so the sales stats may not represent the facts as they are calculated on registrations, not orders from customers.  The wait list is about six months for the RS wagon, so sales could lift in the latter part of this year.

In general, wagons account for 80 per cent of Octavia sales, and there’s more free stock of sedans. The Octavia Scout SUV-styled wagon has managed 218 sales since March. It’s only available as a wagon, with 30 per cent of total wagon demand being for the rugged version.

Maybe we’re jumping the gun here, but this could sell better – especially considering the number of shoppers in the market for a Subaru Outback, which so far has sold 5465 units this year.

  1. Hyundai Sonata
    Sales so far in 2015: 696
    Our rating: 8.5/10

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The Hyundai Sonata replaced the lacklustre i45 earlier this year and the reviews – from all Aussie media – have been pretty positive.

The problem? The Toyota Camry. It came out with a fresh new look that no doubt had fleet buyers frothing, and lower pricing to deliver even more of a blow to the mid-size market.

That segment is down 3.8 per cent this year, but Camry sales are up 3.0 per cent. And further to that, cars like the Mazda 6 have more style, and a new Subaru Liberty is always going to have an impact on rival model sales.

So, where does that leave the Sonata? Unfortunately it’s in a bit of a no-man’s land, along with the almost-as-impressive Ford Mondeo. (See our comparison review here.)

  1. Kia Pro_cee’d GT
    Sales so far in 2015: 167
    Our rating: 8/10

Renault Sport Megane Kia Proceed GT Hyundai Veloster SR Turbo-31

This warm hatch is a winner by all measures except when it comes to making people buy it.

The Pro_cee’d GT boasts a sweet chassis, punchy little turbocharged engine and a fancy interior that is both sporty and surprisingly functional, but it doesn’t sell because there’s a crucial shortcoming in between the front seats – that being the lack of an automatic gearbox option.

We reckon that if there was an auto, sales could treble. But maybe it’s also an issue with a lack of marketing around the car. It should be a halo for the brand, but there seems to be more effort around associating Kia with tennis or 1990s R&B ‘stars’.

  1. Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
    Sales so far in 2015: 137
    Our rating: 8/10

2014 Citroen Grand C4 Picasso 13

A stylish, technologically-advanced seven-seater with oodles of equipment and one of the most comfortable drive experiences imaginable. That’s the Citroen Grand C4 Picasso.

But just 137 sales? Really? Sure, it’s a bit pricey ($43,990 plus on-road costs), but it’s loaded with kit, it looks amazing and has a frugal turbo diesel engine.

Buy it. Please. Someone.

  1. Citroen DS3
    Sales so far in 2015: 51
    Our rating: 7.5/10

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If you like style, and you like small cars, the Citroen DS3 could be on your shopping list… except it’s too expensive.

Kind of like the Grand C4 Picasso, the DS3 comes pretty packed with standard goodies, but when you can get in to an Audi A1 or Mini Cooper for less money, you know someone’s overcharging…

That said, this sweet warm hatch is one that is surprisingly good at going fast, and it does so because it’s light and agile. It’s a hoot to drive, and easier to live with than some more rigid models out of German.

  1. Peugeot 2008
    Sales so far in 2015: 178
    Our rating: 7.5/10

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If, like the vast majority of SUV buyers, you live in town, you should drive a Peugeot 2008.

It is so petite and so manoeuvrable, and it rides better than any other baby SUV on the market. It is a little let down by the lack of a diesel-auto option – and the fact the petrol version has an outdated four-speed auto – but it still gets the job done, and it gets it done well.

But again, it’s outsold by brands that are probably seen as more trustworthy in the market – the Honda HR-V, for instance, has managed to clock up 5191 sales in just over four months. 

  1. Kia Rondo
    Sales so far in 2015 – 109
    Our rating: between 7/10 and 7.5/10

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Another Kia? Yes.

Another lack of effective marketing? Probably.

If people knew they could get a practical city hatchback that just so happens to have seven seats, they’d probably be keen to buy it. Add to that the fact it starts at just over $30K, and it’s ridiculous that this isn’t selling in bigger numbers.

  1. Fiat Panda
    Sales so far in 2015: 202
    Our rating: 7/10

Panda

When the venerable Fiat Panda launched in Australia, motoring scribes were collectively applauding. Forget Ferrari – the Panda is a true Italian automotive icon.

The city-friendly high-topped runabout launched at an attractive start point of $16,500 drive-away. It has been repositioned to start at $14,500 drive-away officially, but eager buyers can hunt one down for less than $10,000.

Yes, less than $10k for a brand-new car. Well, almost brand new, because most are demos with less than 1000km on the clock. Considering the only other options for brand new cars at this price point are ones that are demonstrably poo, the Fiat looks like the bargain of 2015.

  1. Foton Tunland
    Sales so far in 2015: 596
    Our rating: 5.5/10

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OK, so this didn’t get a massive score in our test in 2014, but the Chinese-built, Cummins-powered workhorse truck is probably the best of the unknown utes on the market.

It won’t compete with the Triton, BT-50, Amarok, Ranger, HiLux or Navara on comfort or safety, but if you need a ute that just does what it’s supposed to, this could be a good bargain buy.

The Tunland ranges between $21,990 and $29,990 drive-away, so you could feasibly buy three of them for one top-spec version of the big-sellers. That’s enough to make you think again, surely?

Tell us what you think? Should buyers be sticking to what they know? Or have you shopped outside the square and found a bargain?




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