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Australian vehicle sales for March 2017 – HiLux storms ahead

The Australian VFACTS sales figures for new vehicle registrations for March, 2017, have been released. And for the second month in a row, total SUV sales have overtaken total passenger car sales (includes sports cars).

The stats show 41,484 SUVs were sold during March 2017, against 38,972 passengers cars. This, once again, proves the ongoing popularity of the jumped-up wagon vehicle style. Out of curiosity, Australians bought 43,652 passengers cars in March last year against 38,437 SUVs.

At the top of the tree in terms of vehicle brands, Toyota stands tall and proud once again. The Japanese company shifted an impressive 19,652 vehicles in March, up 10.1 per cent on last year’s March effort. Runner-up was Mazda, selling 10,472 units, up 2.4 per cent on last year. Hyundai remains in third place, with 8700 sales. The top 10 most popular car brands for March 2017 were as follows:

  1. Toyota – 19,652 (up from 16,308 of February 2017 sales)
  2. Mazda – 10,472 (up from 9923)
  3. Hyundai – 8700 (up from 7001)
  4. Mitsubishi – 7583 (up from 5758)
  5. Holden – 7211 (up from 5724)
  6. Ford – 6852 (up from 5669)
  7. Nissan – 5620 (up from 4425)
  8. Volkswagen – 5122 (up from 4618)
  9. Subaru – 5006 (up from 3746)
  10. Kia – 4684 (up from 4174)

Taking the crown for the best-selling vehicle model, it’s the Toyota HiLux. Interestingly, the Ford Ranger comes in second place, proving the strong demand for the ute in Australia – two utes in the top 10. Just a quick glance at the top 10 in fact shows 50 per cent of it is made up of utes and SUVs. In other words, passenger cars could soon be overtaken. So far this year the Toyota HiLux and Corolla lead the way in terms of year-to-date figures, with the HiLux already surpassing 10,000. The top 10 best-selling vehicles for March 2017 were as follows:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 4245 (up from 3386)
  2. Ford Ranger – 3845 (up from 2931)
  3. Toyota Corolla – 3574 (up from 3392)
  4. Mazda3 – 3039 (down from 3143)
  5. Mitsubishi Triton – 2670 (up from 1990)
  6. Hyundai i30 – 2383 (up from 2003)
  7. Toyota Camry – 2336 (up from 1726)
  8. Hyundai Tucson – 2156 (up from 1596)
  9. Mazda CX-5 – 2116 (up from 1933)
  10. Holden Commodore – 2081 (up from 1566)

Medium Cars under $60,000 – Toyota doesn’t seem like it’s going to budge from its top spot in this class any time soon, with the humble Camry going out to 2336 buyers. In a distant second place it’s the Mazda6 followed closely by the Ford Mondeo. The top five best-selling models in this class for March were as follows:

  1. Toyota Camry – 2336 (up from 1473 of February)
  2. Mazda6 – 349 (up from 299)
  3. Ford Mondeo – 300 (up from 295)
  4. Volkswagen Passat – 260 (up from 201)
  5. Subaru Liberty – 209 (up from 201)

Medium Cars over $60,000 – A step up in the luxury class and we see buyers are going for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class more than any other model. The other two rivals from Germany, being the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, are nowhere near. In fact, it’s the Mercedes CLA that takes second place too. At the other end of the spectrum the new Alfa Romeo Giulia seems to be lagging badly off the line after launching locally earlier this year, reporting just 63 sales. The recently-updated Infiniti Q50 isn’t doing any better, with 25 sales. The top five best-selling vehicles in this class for March were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class – 750 (up from 745)
  2. Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class – 356 (up from 287)
  3. BMW 3 Series – 252 (up from 201)
  4. Lexus IS – 185 (up from 134)
  5. Audi A4 – 177 (up from 149)

Large Cars under $70,000 – In the downward-spiralling large sedan class, the Holden Commodore is holding on strong but it will be interesting to see how the figures change (or don’t change) when the all-new European-sourced model arrives next year. Ford Falcon sales are down to just 33, meanwhile Toyota Aurion is clawing on with 282 sales before it goes out of production later this year as well. The top five best-selling vehicles in this class for March 2017 were as follows:

  1. Holden Commodore – 2081 (up from 1566)
  2. Toyota Aurion – 282 (up from 176)
  3. Skoda Superb – 64 (down from 82)
  4. Ford Falcon – 33 (down from 50)
  5. Peugeot 508 – 22 (up from 8)

Large Cars over $70,000 – Moving up a level and the Mercedes E-Class is out in front, but only just. The new BMW 5 Series seems to be latching on for second place, with all other rivals far behind. The top five best-selling vehicles in this segment in March were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 200 (up from 193)
  2. BMW 5 Series – 178 (up from 85)
  3. Mercedes-Benz CLS – 30 (up from 18)
  4. Jaguar XF – 22 (down from 26)/Audi A6 – 22 (down from 23)
  5. Lexus GS – 21 (down from 24)

Sports Car under $80,000 – Kicking off the exciting sports cars, the Ford Mustang is still the most popular overall. The recently-updated Toyota 86 seems to have won over a few more fans as it moves into second place in the entry class, with the Hyundai Veloster not far behind. The new Abarth 124 Spider (49) doesn’t seem to be a hit yet, despite its mechanical brother, the Mazda MX-5, reporting strong figures. The top five best-selling vehicles in this class for March were as follows:

  1. Ford Mustang – 622 (up from 577 of February)
  2. Toyota 86 – 233 (up from 185)
  3. Hyundai Veloster – 191 (down from 196)
  4. Mazda MX-5 – 178 (up from 146)
  5. BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible – 156 (down from 184)
    (Subaru WRX – 272 [up from 161] – not officially in this segment, shown for comparison)

Sport Cars over $80,000 – Stepping up a price segment, and we see the Mercedes C-Class two-door is leading the charge by a decent margin. Aside from the BMW 4 Series, most rivals are far behind. The top five best-selling models in this category were as follows:

  1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe/Convertible – 350 (up from 307)
  2. BMW 4 Series Coupe/Convertible – 105 (up from 89)
  3. Audi A5 – 79 (up from 18)
  4. Lexus RC – 47 (up from 21)
  5. Mercedes-Benz SLC – 35 (up from 22)

Sport Cars over $200,000 – Porsche is still doing well in this class with the 911, but Ferrari is edging very close indeed. The top five best-selling vehicles in the class during March were as follows:

  1. Porsche 911 – 36 (down from 60)
  2. Ferrari (not specified) – 26 (up from 13)
  3. Mercedes-AMG GT – 20 (up from 9)
  4. Aston Martin – 17 (up from 10)
  5. BMW 6 Series – 15 (up from 13)

Combined 4×2 and 4×4 ute – Over to the tradesmans’ favourite, and of course the Toyota HiLux is the most popular choice. We see a number of changes to the top 10 overall though, with the Isuzu D-Max overtaking the dwindling Volkswagen Amarok and the Mazda BT-50 for sixth spot. The Great Wall Steed also overtakes the Foton Tunland to round out the top 10. The top 10 best-selling utes (4×2 and 4×4 combined) for March were as follows:

  1. Toyota HiLux – 4245 (up from 3386 of February)
  2. Ford Ranger – 3845 (up from 2931)
  3. Mitsubishi Triton – 2670 (up from 1990)
  4. Holden Colorado – 1927 (up from 1281)
  5. Nissan Navara – 1784 (up from 1166)
  6. Isuzu D-Max – 1424 (up from 823)
  7. Mazda BT-50 – 1331 (up from 1106)
  8. Volkswagen Amarok – 760 (down from 834)
  9. Great Wall Steed – 48 (up from 30)
  10. Foton Tunland – 46 (down from 77)

Where everyone seems to be heading now, is to SUVs. The most popular SUV overall was the Hyundai Tucson in March followed by the Mazda CX-5. Meanwhile the most popular luxury SUV overall was the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The ‘Medium under $60,000’ class is the most popular, selling 14,498 units, up 10.8 per cent year-to-date. The second favourite class is ‘Large under $70,000′, with 10,912 sales, up 1.9 per cent year-to-date. In third place it’s ‘Small under $40,000’. Sales topped 8607 units, down 6.7 per cent year-to-date.

The top three best-selling SUVs in all categories for March were as follows:

  • SUV Small under $40,000:
    Mazda CX-3 – 1601 (up from 1468 of February)
    Nissan Qashqai – 1389 (up from 868)
    Mitsubishi ASX – 1384 (up from 1061)
  • SUV Small above $40,000:
    BMW X1 – 352 (down from 361)
    Audi Q3 – 307 (up from 306)
    Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class – 235 (down from 279)
  • SUV Upper Large above $100,000:
    Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class/GL – 104 (up from 59)
    Range Rover – 65 (up from 49)
    Lexus LX – 39 (equal)

Total new vehicle sales in Australia in March were well up on February figures. During March, Australian consumers bought 105,410 vehicles compared with 89,025 in February. Sales are up 0.9 per cent compared with March 2016, but down 2.1 per cent year-to-date.

Brett is the editor and founder of PerformanceDrive. He's obsessed with driving, having played with Matchbox cars until he was tall enough to drive a real one. After initially working as a mechanic, Brett earned a degree in journalism and entered media as an editorial assistant at Top Gear Australia magazine. He then worked at CarAdvice.com.au. His dream is to live next door to the Nurburgring in Germany.