These four niche lines increased sales during COVID-19: a performance car, two hatchbacks, and an electrified trio.
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As Australia braces for a recession, some surprising new cars have bucked the sharp downward sales trend.

New-car sales fell by 35.3 per cent in May compared to the same month the previous year, following a shocker in April (down 48.5 per cent). Both represented the biggest declines in at least 30 years.

While sales of utes and four-wheel-drives have picked up in the lead-up to June 30 and as many motorists plan to holiday at home, there are some niche models that have also performed well.

Here are some of the unsuspecting high achievers, posting gains in the first five months of this year in a market that's in reverse.

Suzuki Baleno – 1395 sold year to date / 9.3 per cent segment share / up 165 per cent

The Suzuki Baleno is seemingly attracting more budget conscious buyers than ever before. The series two model did not add any large improvements to the budget hatchback, and maintained similar pricing, too.

Suzuki did however go on a big, brand building mission, which would have made people aware of the affordable city car. Or, as good marketing does, cut through the clutter and raised brand awareness overall.

Either way, consider Suzuki earning a gold star for their efforts here.

Subaru WRX range – 430 sold year to date / 1.0 per cent segment share / up 2.9 per cent

This is an interesting one, as the WRX is far from a new thing

Rarely does any car, let alone a fundamentally six-year old performance car, pick up during such conditions. It’s done so at the cost of others, adding an extra 0.4 per cent to its share in the process.

Remarkably too, this sales increase comes as speculation builds regarding the all-new replacement, due sometime in 2021.

Hyundai Ioniq range – 229 sold year to date / 0.5 per cent segment share / up 1.8 per cent

The alternative propulsion range that is the Ioniq has found more buyers than ever before during 2020.

Once again given the economic climate and conditions, one would expect that less people than ever are interested in taking a punt on a brand not widely known for its EV technology.

Then again, this could be signs of the normalisation of such technology. If so, that signals a step in the right direction for our market.

Skoda Fabia – 274 sold year to date / 1.8 per cent segment share / up 0.7 per cent

The baby of the Skoda family has been a reasonably consistent underperformer in our market.

Underperforming not because of its shortfalls, which it doesn’t have many, but likely more so for other reasons, such as product awareness or other subjective matters.

There was a time not too long ago where the now discontinued Renault Clio outsold it quite comfortably, too.

Nowadays, the pint-sized Skoda is making up ground, adding a near-whole percentage to its segment share pie, as well as selling a handful more when compared to this time last year.

We want to hear from you.

Are you out there taking advantage of the current situation by shopping for a niche vehicle at bargain basement prices?

If so, we’d love to hear your story in the comments below.