Sometimes certain sales figures contextualise general car industry trends rather neatly. The fact the Audi A3 hatch and sedan range is outselling the Ford Focus hatch and sedan in Australia this year is one such instance.
According the VFACTS industry figures, the little German hatch and sedan line-up has managed 1033 sales in 2016, up 5.7 per cent. This is compared to 964 units for the just-updated Ford Focus, down 47.3 per cent.
This discrepancy — the Focus globally is one of the world’s most popular cars, while the Audi A3 is a less mainstream, more upmarket option elsewhere — reflects the expensive tastes of Australian car buyers.
Small car sales are dipping in the face of the cannibalistic SUV boom, down 6.5 per cent this year and managing a market share of less than 20 per cent. But sales of premium small cars (officially classified as Small > $40,000) are up 16.2 per cent in 2016.
The Audi A3’s 1033 sales over January-February actually exceed other well-known small car nameplates such as the Honda Civic (just 343), Nissan Pulsar (890), and Subaru Impreza (790, not including the WRX that is now marketed as a separate model).
The A3 is classified as the top of its premium small car class, with its 1033 sales representing 30.2 per cent annual market share. However, VFACTS separates the A3’s biggest rival, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch and CLA sedan, into two segments.
If you add the sales of these two models together, you get a cumulative 2016 tally of 1467, meaning that the Benz would take the bragging rights. Either way, it’s a telling figure.
The Small Car segment (as defined by car sales database VFACTS) has been the market-share leader since 2005, but its decline in the face of small and medium SUVs continues mostly unabated. February 2016 included.