We’re only one sales month into 2018, but if the most-improved brand award were to be dished out now, then a revitalised Honda would be the runaway winner.
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The company’s sales grew 32 per cent for the month compared to January 2017’s tally, a growth rate eight-times the market average. Sticking on that theme, it finished eighth overall in-market, between Nissan and Kia.

Honda Australia’s overall car and SUV sales as recorded by industry peak lobbyist, the FCAI, were 4581. This contrasts with the 3470 sold in January last year, as well as the 2898 in January 2016, and 2703 in January 2015.

Carrying the can for the company were the new-generation CR-V medium SUV, with a massive 1474 units (up 167 %), outgunning perennial favourite the Hyundai Tucson, though trailing the Mazda CX-5, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail.

Now the Civic family is complete with sedan, hatch and Type R, Honda has climbed up the small-car ranks. This model recorded 1293 units, up 47.9 per cent, though still sits behind the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf and Kia Cerato.

The third main piece in Honda’s puzzle is the HR-V small crossover, with 1002 units. Its sales stayed about steady in a market segment up around 25 per cent, though given a host of new offerings (Toyota C-HR, Hyundai Kona and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross) have arrived in the past year, that’s not such a bad effort.

It’s not all good news though. The little Jazz city car managed 527 units, down 14 per cent. The Odyssey people mover fell 23.6 per cent to 168 units, though was a clear segment number-two behind the Kia Carnival. The City light sedan dropped 35 per cent to 100 units. Finally, Accord sales halved to just 17.

Hopefully the new-generation Accord lobs at some point this year to bolster the company in a battling market segment, against the new imported Toyota Camry and Holden Commodore.

January often gives a good guide to which brands started 2018 without a backlog of dealer demonstrators, opposed to those that had to clear the previous year’s registered stock. The news is better still for Honda, given it doesn’t do many fleet sales and therefore has a significant share of the lucrative ‘private’ market.

Other brands that started 2017 well include perennial market leader Toyota (up 15,306, up 22 %) and Kia (4531, continuing last year’s growth trend to be up 12.9 %).

Smaller players that grew their sales included Alfa Romeo (79, up 71.7 % thanks to the Giulia), Isuzu Ute (1526, up 39.4 %), Jeep (556, up 28.1 % over its dreadful 2017 tally), LDV (351, up 154.3 % as the T60 ute and D90 SUV hit showrooms), the always-strong Mercedes-Benz (3270, up 9.9 %) and Mini (322, up 13 %).

Top 20 car brands by volume, January 2018