Everyone loves a left-of-centre battler, but when it comes to cars, few buy them.
At least in a market like Australia, which is hugely competitive but dominated by a small number of big fish like Toyota, Mazda, Holden and Hyundai.
But a scan through VFACTS sales figures also shows that, every year, there are a few lesser-known cars that for a variety of reasons enter another gear, sales-wise.
Here are five that stand out. Sales listed are January-March, compared to the same period in 2016.
Kia Soul – 73 sales, up 387 per cent
We’re talking tiny sales here, but growth is growth.
Kia has always struggled to sell the boxy little Soul here – they’re everywhere in the US – but unlike other niche cars such as the Pro_Cee’d, it has persisted.
The company cut the price to $24,990 drive-away last October, and now offers a single-variant range. The strategy has done some good.
Given Kia’s lack of a small SUV to rival the Mazda CX-3, and given Suzuki’s success with the oddball Ignis, we’d hope for this model to grow further.
Fiat 500X – 235 sales, up 64 per cent
Fiat 500 sales are falling in a hole, and it appears the chunky little 500X crossover is picking up some of the slack, and riding the SUV boom.
Like the Kia Soul, it’s clear the wise price cuts announced last year are working, with 235 units finding homes over Q1, up 64 per cent.
As you can read on our reviews and comparisons page, the 500X is no class leader, but for those after badge and image, there’s a lot of appeal there.
It’s also beaten its Jeep Renegade twin so far this year, which has 204 sales, down 26 per cent.
Skoda Superb – 207 sales, up 95 per cent
The big Czech liftback and wagon is one of our favourite cars, but its market recognition is minimal.
Nevertheless, the new one launched last year is making a much better fist of things than its narrower predecessor.
It’s hard to think of a car that offers more space, pace and grace for less. And it’s catching on.
BMW X4 – 434, up 24 per cent
It’s been a bad year for BMW Australia, which is down 15 per cent over its record 2016.
Of more concern is the fact that all its X-series range of SUVs are down. All, that is, except the swooping-roof X4.
Polarising yes, but this ‘coupe crossover’, as it’s billed, has recorded 26 per cent growth this year, to 434 units.
Lexus LX – 100 sales, up 122 per cent
The massive Lexus LX570, a V8 petrol-only behemoth based on the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series, is ticking along at an alarmingly high rate this year.
With 100 sales this year (up 122 per cent), the $143,000 monstrosity ($156k drive-away) might be the secret star of 2017.
We’re also wondering what kind of deals one might get…