VFACTS figures show that small SUV sales at the affordable end of the market (sub $40,000) are down 1.4 per cent this year after sustained growth, though sales at the luxury end from the Germans are up 48 per cent reflecting the market's continuous shift in a premium direction.
Pictured: 2016 Subaru XV concept
The sales leaders at the low-cost end of the market are the Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3, Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V (followed by a vast number of others such as the Holden Trax and Suzuki Vitara), while at the premium end the BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3 are firing along.
Sales of the aged Subaru XV in its current form are nevertheless well up this year to 7645 units, fifth in segment, thanks to strong campaign pricing.
The total small SUV segment is up 2.4 per cent (9.5 per cent market share), barely above the market average, and well below the rate of growth seen in medium SUVs led by the Mazda CX-5, which are up 18 per cent and likely responsible for downward pressure on smaller-footprint vehicles.
But Subaru is confident that this is no long-term trend, with the company’s externally sourced data predicting 14 per cent growth in the sector next year.
Pictured: 2017 Subaru Impreza cabin, representative of the next XV
One major impact over the second half of the year will be the as-yet unseen all-new 2017 Subaru XV, which is due around June. This car is based on the new Impreza that recently launched here, and which has 95 per cent new parts.
The next XV will use the Impreza’s new modular global platform, meaning it will be stiffer and sportier to drive, while it will pick up a more premium cabin, EyeSight active-safety technology, familiar full-time AWD as standard and (hopefully) more cargo space.
Pictured: Toyota C-HR
Also tipped to drive segment growth is the long overdue Toyota contender, the funky C-HR, which will have a premium-ish price but sell thanks to its design, and the vastness of the company's dealer network.
"The marketplace is determined by product coming into it," Subaru Australia Colin Christie told CarAdvice this week.
"So if you look at the small SUV market, when XV first went in [in 2012], it grew dramatically. When Honda and Mazda then went in, it grew dramatically. New news always excites people."
Pictured: Current-generation Subaru XV
Stay tuned for more information on the brand-new Subaru XV as it appears early in 2017.