VFACTS: The winners and losers in April

Which models came up trumps last month, and who didn't quite make the cut

Mitsubishi Triton

It’s now been a full year since the Australian new-car market was first ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the sales recovery was given another boost last month with a record April.

Compared with the severely depleted sales of April 2020, there’s naturally an abundance of winners – though there are some losers, too.

Here’s our guide to the models, brands and segments that soared or nosedived in April 2021.

Alfa Romeo Giulia - Winner

A 525 per cent month-on-month sales jump is distorted of course by the pandemic effects hitting in April 2020, though year-to-date (YTD) sales (104 units) for the Italian brand’s mid-sized sedan are up a promising 51 per cent. A refreshed and revised line-up introduced in late 2020 is clearly helping.

The good news is that so far in 2021, the Giulia is outselling the Genesis G70, Jaguar XE and Volvo S60. The bad news is that it remains miles off the pace of key rivals including the BMW 3 Series (1203 sales YTD), Lexus IS (560 YTD) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (1394 YTD).

Alpine A110
Alpine A110

Alpine - Loser

Renault’s sports brand still has just a single credit to its name in 2021 after drawing another blank in April.

Just having one dealer (in Brighton East, VIC) doesn’t help, though there are three variants offered of its Porsche Cayman and Audi TT rival, the A110.

Aston Martin - Winner

The new (or rather newly rebranded) Aston Martin Formula 1 team may not yet be up to speed in the championship, but its road cars are performing strongly.

Nine of its sports cars were sold in Australia last month, equating to an 800 per cent month-on-month increase. Year-to-date sales are 52 vehicles, up 86 per cent.

Audi Q3 - Winner

Australians can’t get enough of Audi’s second-generation compact SUV. Although the Q3 was the country’s best-selling luxury small SUV in 2020 (and the most popular Audi), it is more clearly dominating its segment so far in 2021.

Audi sold 553 Q3s in April – a 266 per cent increase on April 2020, while year-to-date growth is also in triple figures (115 per cent).

The Q3 had a 22 per cent market share in 2020; so far this year its share has increased to 29 per cent. It’s aiding Audi’s overall rise, too, with the German brand up nearly 40 per cent compared with the same period last year.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i
BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe - Winner

It’s rare for a hotcake like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class to be outsold and equally unusual that the BMW that beat it in April wasn’t the direct-rival 1 Series.

Instead, the victor of the luxury small car segment last month was the four-door version of the 1 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe.

The range was boosted in late 2020 by the introduction of a mid-spec, $53,990 220i variant, which sits between the entry-level, $49,990 218i and flagship $72,990 M235i.

Chinese brands – Winners

GMW-Haval, LDV and MG continue to set the new-car market alight with records. Even allowing for April 2020’s Covid struggles, MG and GWM-Haval’s respective monthly growth of 626 and 673 per cent is quite phenomenal.

Both brands also exceed 200 per cent sales increases when looking at the year-to-date picture – MG up 215 per cent and GWM-Haval up 247 per cent. LDV is hardly missing out.

Last month’s tally of 1086 units is a 417 per cent increase on April 2020, with its year-to-date increase at 156 per cent.

Citroen C3
Citroen C3

Citroen – Loser

Sacre bleu! Just three Citroen models – one C3 city car and two C5 Aircross SUVs – left showrooms last month.

It’s more disappointing news for the struggling French brand, which has shifted only 37 vehicles so far in 2021. In a market that is up 30 per cent year to date, Citroen sales are down 44 per cent.

Double-digit growers – Losers

It may seem harsh to mark down any brand with double-digit month-on-month growth, but April 2020’s severely depleted sales mean triple-digit sales increases were the norm for April 2021.

That means relative disappointment last month for BMW (26 per cent), Fiat (12 per cent), Honda (62 per cent), Jaguar (49 per cent), Maserati (96 per cent), Mini (80 per cent), Porsche (56 per cent), RAM (40 per cent), and Toyota (96 per cent).

Ferrari – Winner

The Prancing Horse has been consistently trailing its 2020 performance so far in 2021, though in April Ferrari sold 23 supercars for its best monthly result yet. That put it ahead of its key rivals – Aston (nine cars), Lamborghini (18) and McLaren (seven).

Ford Ranger – Winner

It hasn’t been uncommon for Ford’s locally developed ute to outsell the HiLux in the 4x4 segment, but it’s rarer for the Ranger to trump the Toyota when combining 4x2 sales.

Yet in April the Ranger came out on top overall for only the third time in about three and a half years, the last time being September 2020. With 5021 sales, the Ranger was the best-selling vehicle in Australia last month.

Nissan Juke ST-L

Light SUV segment – Winner

The world’s smallest SUVs were the biggest growth category last month, up nearly 400 per cent compared to April 2020 – or up from 1028 to 5079 vehicles.

New entrants in the form of the Ford Puma (though replacing the EcoSport), Kia Stonic and Toyota Yaris Cross made their contributions, as did the new-generation Nissan Juke. There were also strong performances from the Hyundai Venue, Suzuki Ignis and VW T-Cross.

Lotus – Winner

Six driving enthusiasts in April were keen to buy a slice of Lotus history. The niche British sports car maker is retiring its Elise, Exige and Evora models at the end of the year as it prepares for an entirely new line-up of sports cars.

The six sales equate to a 500 per cent sales increase on April 2020, with Lotus’s year-to-date sales up by 91 per cent – or from 11 to 21 vehicles.

2021 Mercedes S-Class
Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Mercedes-Benz S-Class - Winner

The latest iteration of the world’s most famous limousine has stretched sales by a remarkable 700 per cent month on month, with 32 S-Classes sold last month.

That was almost as many as there were E-Class Coupes/Convertibles sold and more than the CLA (24). For further perspective, the next closest limo was BMW’s 7 Series with five sales.

Audi sold zero A8s, Bentley sold three of its sedans, Lexus sold three LS models, Maserati sold a single Quattroporte and Rolls-Royce’s five sales in April were coupe and 4WD models only.

Micro-car segment – Winner

Another triple-digit-growth category, up a massive 441 per cent month on month – even if to just 746 vehicles.

While an appropriately teeny category with just three vehicles, the Kia Picanto and Mitsubishi micro cars maximised sales with circa-500 per cent growth each for the month – up 511 and 495 per cent, respectively. The Fiat/Abarth 500 also chipped in with a 40 per cent increase over April 2020.

2019 Mitsubishi Triton
Triton GLS

Mitsubishi - Winner

The common sales pecking order for car brands in Australia is Toyota (by a country mile), Mazda and Hyundai. But last month, Mitsubishi made it onto the podium at the expense of Hyundai, helped by the Japanese brand registering 333 per cent month-on-month growth compared with 157 per cent for the Korean car maker.

Mitsubishi has also moved into third place in total sales to date for 2021, again displacing Hyundai.

Renault - Loser

It’s not a good look to post negative growth in a month when most brands were registering between 100 and 800 per cent sales increases, but French car maker did just that with a minus-four per cent figure for April.

A 77 per cent decline for its Master van was the main culprit. Its Koleos mid-sized SUV performed well, though – up 182 per cent month-on-month, from 55 to 155 units, and the second-generation Captur compact SUV launches imminently.

Skoda - Winner

While its parent company Volkswagen will no doubt be content with a 136 per cent increase in sales compared with April 2020, Czech brand Skoda had the second largest growth result last month – up a whopping 775 per cent. In vehicle terms, this was a climb from 107 to 936 vehicles.

Where many brands can have a particularly dominant model, Skoda’s April 2021 result is notable for consistency across its line-up, with five models – the new Kamiq compact SUV and Scala small car twins, the Karoq and Kodiaq SUVs, plus the latest-generation Octavia medium car – each sold between 142 and 178 units. Skoda’s year-to-date sales are up 124 per cent to 3704 vehicles.

2020 Toyota Yaris
Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris and Yaris Cross – Winners

April was a good month for vehicles named Yaris. The Yaris city car has struggled since a significantly more expensive new-generation version was released last year, but it partially recovered last month with a 325 per cent month-on-month increase that equated to 604 sales.

That placed it second in its segment, behind the MG3 (1150 sales) but ahead of the likes of the Mazda 2 (541), Kia Rio (407), Suzuki Swift (379) and VW Polo (250). And although the Yaris Cross baby SUV is too new to compare with April 2021, it was the third most popular model in its class last month with 730 sales. Only the Mazda CX-3 (1779) and Kia Stonic (769) sold more.


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