Holden has a new best-selling model for the first time since 1978 after its Cruze small car outsold the Commodore in January.
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The latest official car industry sales figures reveal Holden sold 2445 Cruzes last month compared to 2170 for its large car, which in 2011 had its 15-year run as Australia’s most popular model ended by another small car, the Mazda3.

The result reflects another torrid month for large car sales, with the Commodore falling 18 per cent compared to January 2011 and the Ford Falcon pared by a fifth to just 931 units (click to read our separate story on Falcon’s January sales result).

The Cruze was the third-best-selling vehicle in January, completing a podium for small cars with the Toyota Corolla second (3383 sales) and the Mazda3 (4045) cementing its new place at the top of the charts.

Small cars dominated the top 10 with the additions of the Hyundai i30 (5


), Mazda2 (6


), Ford Focus (8


), Mitsubishi Lancer (9


) and Toyota Yaris (10



The Commodore (4


) was one of two exceptions, with 7


place taken by the Nissan Navara ute (1609 sales), which even outsold the Toyota HiLux.

SUVs, however, were responsible for driving positive 4.4 per cent year on year growth for the industry overall, led by a huge 61 per cent rise in compact SUVs. SUV sales grew 30 per cent compared to a 2.2 per cent drop in passenger cars.

Medium car sales increased by 35 per cent to overtake large cars (4713), while city car sales dropped by 21 per cent and small car sales were stagnant at -0.4 per cent.

The Focus was a rare highlight for Ford, with disappointing results for the Falcon, Territory (804 sales) and Ranger ute (618) contributing to a 9 per cent year-on-year decline.

Ford’s 5838 sales meant it slipped out of its usual third spot in the car brand sales rankings, overtaken by both Mazda (8479) and Hyundai (6513).

Toyota continues to lead the market, with 14,065 sales equating to an 18.3 per cent market share. Holden sits second with 9601 sales and an 11.8 per cent market share.

Kia jumped into the top 10 with 2276 sales at the expense of struggling Honda. The Japanese brand had a bad 2011 and in January saw sales fall by 29 per cent.

Jeep was one of the strongest performers of brands not recording high growth from relatively low bases, increasing sales by 175 per cent.

There were also positive results for Great Wall Motors (up 68%), Land Rover (up 47%), Kia (up 24%), Mercedes-Benz (up 25%), Mazda (up 18%) and Holden (up 8.1%).

Suzuki and Alfa Romoe sales both fell by 21 per cent compared to this time last year.

Top 10 sales: January 2012

Mazda3 4045

Toyota Corolla 3383

Holden Cruze 2445

Holden Commodore 2170

Hyundai i30 1986

Mazda2 1624

Nissan Navara 1609

Ford Focus 1576

Mitsubishi Lancer 1470

Toyota Yaris 1352