The 2017 sales year is off to a bit of a slow start, with cumulative numbers down 3.8 per cent to 173,935 units, over last year’s all-time record.
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We’ve seen declines in passenger cars, SUVs and light commercials alike, suggesting this year might see the market cool off ever-so-slightly.

Key players such as Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Volkswagen, BMW, Audi and Jeep are all down, while market leader Toyota’s growth is pegged at less than 1 per cent — a good effort considering the circumstances.

But there are some brands swimming well against the proverbial tide and actually out of the block strongly. This is a list of the standouts.

Kia — 8189 (up 32.4 per cent or 2006 units)


After a monster 2016, the Korean brand is only getting stronger in 2017. Kia is now ninth in the sales charts ahead of Subaru and Honda, and nipping at Volkswagen’s heels.

Leading the charge is the Cerato (2885, up 77.5 per cent), Sportage (2169, up 22.7 per cent) and the Sorento (738, up 17.3 per cent), while the Picanto has added 572 incremental sales.

With a new Rio model now on sale, and a new-generation Picanto near, expect the pattern to continue. Let's also not forget the new rear-drive Stinger, due later in 2017...

Subaru — 7755 (up 11.7 per cent or 812 units)


The Pleiades brand just keep building on success, up double digits over its record 2016, with sales so far of 7755 units.

Subaru's new-generation Impreza is the star, with 1859 sales this year (up 135.3 per cent) thanks to improvements across the board, and vastly cheaper servicing.

Also pulling its weight is the Levorg, adding 211 incremental sales, offsetting drops in WRX sales.

With a new-generation XV just around the corner (due July) and steady sales from the trusty Outback and Forester in the bag, expect another record this year.

Honda — 6666 (up 7.9 per cent or 489 units)


The new-generation Civic sedan is carrying the can for Honda, compiling 1703 sales this year, up five-fold.

The Civic's success is a counterbalance to drops for the CR-V (down 16 per cent to 1106) and Jazz (down 23 per cent to 1182), while the HR-V top-seller is about steady on 2005 sales.

With a new-generation CR-V (pictured above) due in August and the new Civic hatch imminent, there’s no reason to suspect Honda can’t have a positive year again.

Renault — 1668 (up 21.6 per cent or 296 units)


After a lacklustre 2016, French brand Renault is bouncing back, up almost 22 per cent this year to a respectable 1668 units (more than Jeep and Lexus).

Contradicting a drop in light car sales, the Clio has grown 37 per cent to 316 units thanks to sharp deals. The new Koleos is also doing well, with 366 sales up more than 500 per cent. The Master range is also well up (436 total).

The new Megane has perhaps failed to fire (173, up 9 per cent), while the Trafic (233) is steady. Finally, the Captur has capitulated, down 90 per cent, though it appears stock is limited. Perhaps Renault has been clearing out demonstrators.

Jaguar — 519 (up 27.5 per cent or 112 units)


The new F-Pace crossover is off to a strong start, with 276 sales to the end of February.

This is just as well, considering the XE sedan (174, down 42 per cent) and XF (43, down 44 per cent) are both struggling.

There are also a few smaller-volume brands who are performing well, proportionally, including:


Infiniti on 171 (up 94.3 per cent or 83 units); Maserati on 154 (up 94.9 per cent or 76 units); LDV on 308 (up 28.9 per cent or 69 units); and McLaren on 19 (up 216.7 per cent or 13 units), more than tripling in sales.