The Mazda3 slightly spoiled the Toyota Corolla’s 50th anniversary celebrations by pipping its rival to the No.1 sales spot for September.
Toyota’s veteran nameplate, which was launched in October 1966, can at least claim leadership in the race to become Australia’s most popular car of 2016. Its runner-up figure of 3423 sales allowed it to leapfrog the stable-mate HiLux ute, which was third with 3209 units.
The 3’s 3491 sales contributed to a record month for Mazda, which also featured the Mazda CX-5 in the top 10 – placing sixth with its own monthly record of 2662 units.
Ford’s Ranger was fourth with 2451 sales, continuing its lone pursuit of the seemingly unstoppable HiLux in the ute segment.
The Hyundai i30 placed fifth despite its 2741 figure dropping by 40 per cent compared with September 2015. The hatchback has lost momentum in recent months since aggressive drive-away deals helped to make it an early pace-setter in the overall sales race.
The Korean brand’s smaller Accent increased sales 127 per cent year on year, however, to take the last rung on the top 10 ladder, while the Tucson mid-sized SUV (9th) continues to perform strongly.
Mitsubishi’s Triton (8th) made it three utes in the top 10, while the sole large car was the Holden Commodore (7th).
Just 121 sales separate the Corolla and HiLux at the three-quarter stage of 2016, though the i30 is not out of the running entirely – 1270 units shy of top spot.
September sales of 102,696 equated to a 1.3 per cent increase – or 1304 vehicles – over the corresponding month in 2015. SUVs and light-commercial vehicles continue to drive market growth. While passenger sales were down 9 per cent compared with this time last year, SUVs were up 7 per cent and light commercial vehicles up 18 per cent.
Toyota is already describing its overall market lead as “virtually unassailable”, with second-placed Mazda more than 60,000 units behind despite a record month for the Japanese brand in September.
Top 10 selling vehicles in September 2016
Race for 2016’s No.1 Sales Spot (at end of September 2016)