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We measure Australia’s mid-size performance SUV appetite

By Louis Cordony, 16 Apr 2020 News

Mid-size performance SUVs sales VFACTS March news

How the fast mid-size SUVs are stacking up for sales

We’re buying more SUVs than ever. Yes, even in these times, as the overall sales market contracts, VFACTs sales figures reveal Aussies are zeroing in more regularly on the SUV.

This got us thinking, though, what about the fast ones? Are we a little more judicious when it comes to the shape and size our fast cars come in? Well, we asked the people who actually would know like BMW M, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar and Mercedes-AMG.

As a heads up, we kept the focus to their medium-sized SUV hotties, since there are some in the large segment (like the incoming X5 and X6) that haven’t touched down yet.

Some marques turned down our interest, with Jaguar and Alfa Romeo declining to reveal figures, or even estimated percentages, on how many F-Pace SVR or Stelvio Qs are sold. Meanwhile, we hadn’t heard back from Audi – which isn’t a matter since the SQ5 or Q3 doesn’t have an RS version here … yet.

Porsche recently told us it was not in a position to reveal exact figures either on Macan GTS and Turbo variants, but could say these two usually represent “just over a quarter” of Macan sales. Since 163 Macans sold in March, that would mean about 40 would be fitted in either trim.

Based on what Mercedes were able to tell us at the same time, AMG comes close to their Stuttgart neighbours, with usually about a fifth of GLC and GLC coupes sold wearing an AMG badge, birthing either a twin-turbo V6 powered 43 or the monstrous V8-packing 63.

BMW’s M brand was the only one willing to reveal exact sales data. And although these figures cannot be truly compared with the other brands’ approximations for the sake of accuracy, they offered interesting analysis.

For example, withing the X3 range, the cheaper M40i outsold the range-topping X3 M by almost two to one. But when compared to overall sales, the two variants made up only 12 per cent of X3 sales, significantly behind either Porsche or Mercedes-AMG’s percentages.

But this changes when you add the X4’s performance into the mix. The X4 M40i and X4 M accounted for 29 per cent of sales in this range, outperforming the X3 by some margin and also raising the X3 and X4’s M-car sales ratio to 21 per cent overall, putting it right in the mix with its rivals.

You could say performance mid-size SUVs are selling well in any of these cases, since a 20 per cent share of overall sales for any performance model can be considered a success. However, a comparison with a true base line might have to wait until Alfa Romeo, Audi and Jaguar inform us further.

Otherwise, for an overall snapshot of the market, it’s clear COVID-19’s impact has knocked the wind total new car sales. Only 81,690 cars were sold in March, compared to 99,442 this time last year and 106,988 in 2018.

Still, SUVs continue to consolidate their position in the sales splits, accounting for 48 per cent of sales in March, that’s up from 46 per cent in March 2019, 43 per cent in 2018 and 39 per cent in 2017.

Sports car sales, meanwhile, are significantly down in number, with the segment notching up only 845 sales in March, compared to 1471 this same time last year and 2063 in two years ago. With that, the Sports car category held a 1.1 per cent share of the market this month, compared to 1.5 last year and 1.8 per cent in 2018.

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