It’s difficult to tell if a new car is going to be a hit with the public or not – unless it’s a Volkswagen, in which case it probably will be. What we as members of the motoring media do after we've reviewed new products is to sign off with a final line about letting the sales charts do the talking... But how are the new cars of 2016 actually doing? Looking through the list of new vehicles for 2016, Mercedes-Benz was the big player with 8 new models (including facelifts) this year. The problem with that is that Mercedes-Benz SA doesn’t release sales figures so we have zero indication of how well or badly its models are faring.
As for the rest, we’ve picked a selection of interesting new vehicles across various segments to see which models are doing well and which are flopping. A few things to note, however, are that the overall market is depressed so sales figures are likely to be a bit down from what they would normally be. Also, the supply of certain models may be limited – sales figures may suffer as a result of this.
The all-new A4 was launched in South Africa at the end of February 2016 and appears to have sold in decent numbers. Sales have averaged around 230 units a month since the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer launched its business class sedan. It is unlikely to match the sales figures of the locally built BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but as a premium model in a contracting market, the new A4 looks to have done well.
Read: Audi A4 2.0TFSI S tronic Design (2016) Review
Buy: Search for a used A4 here
Sales of the 7 Series also commenced in February 2016 and BMW has since added new derivatives such as the long-wheelbase and Pure Excellence edition. For such an expensive business class car, sales have actually been relatively decent. Since February BMW has managed to shift an average of 30 units a month. Not bad when you consider the base price in February was R1.4 million.
The all-new X1 featured a more SUV-like shape and improved interior build quality. Its price was also hiked, but that hasn’t seemed to have deterred buyers from the premium-badged compact crossover. Having gone on sale in November 2015, this year’s sales have been steady, averaging around 185 units a month. That compares favourably with the Audi Q3, which is admittedly on its last legs and set for a replacement next year.
There was much hope for the Fiat double cab when we first got word it was coming to South Africa. An all-new platform and good-looking design raised hopes that the Italian marque could garner some early sales success. Unfortunately, the sales haven’t materialised with only June 2016 proving to be a decent sales month (70 units). Since inception, it has averaged just 40 units a month.
The previous Ford Figo was a great success for Ford. The Indian built B-segment hatch was a well-made reliable run-around was based on the previous generation Fiesta. This new generation Figo has transformed its image as a more upmarket vehicle and the sales figures aren’t looking particularly good. Whereas the old Figo was often selling more than 1 000 units a month, the new model averages around 460 units per month. Only once in the last 6 months has it managed to notch up more than 300 sales.
Technically, the facelifted Ranger was launched at the end of 2015, but we’ll only count the sales months from this year. Having usurped the Hilux at the top of the sales chart for a few months, it was always going to be interesting to see what happened to sales when the new Hilux hit the market this year. The new Ranger has continued to be a South African favourite and in the last month of full sales (October 2016) the Ford trumped its Toyota rival for the first time. On average, the new Ranger has sold 2 641 units a month.
Hyundai re-introduced the Tucson name when it launched the successor to the popular ix35 in March 2016 and the newcomer achieved sales success from the outset. According to Hyundai, the Tucson averages 615 units a month, making it the segment leader for medium-sized SUVs. That's impressive, considering it's up against tough opposition from the Toyota RAV4, Ford Kuga and Mazda CX-5, which are perennial South African favourites.
Jaguar has been dealt with a harsh hand from the exchange rate over the last year (more so than most marques) and, as a result, much of its pricing has been less than competitive. The new XF has struggled to gain any sales momentum this year, selling in single digits for the last 5 months. Currently, it averages just 11 units a month. Thankfully, it appears the F-Pace is selling reasonably well (it may actually be garnering sales at the expense of the XF).
The sporty little Mazda MX-5 is the top-selling convertible of all time; this version is also the current World Car of the Year and a finalist in the Fun Car category of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards. We can’t expect huge sales of the 2-seater sportscar locally, however, as the pricing is quite steep and it’s in a very niche segment of the market. Since it went on sale at the beginning of the year, the MX-5 has averaged 11 units a month.
Since Mazda’s revival, the brand has done superbly well in SA, especially in the crossover market. The CX-3 is hardly a spacious, practical vehicle but it has stylish appeal. It appears that style eclipses practicality in the small SUV market as the CX-3 averages 220 units a month. To illustrate the Mazda's popularity, more practical models in this segment (such as the Honda HR-V and the Opel Mokka) sell around half those numbers per month.
The Opel Astra has been a mainstay of the C-segment hatch market. The new model features a much-updated interior and the exterior has a modern look to it. Unfortunately, that hasn't exactly translated into sales success with Astra lagging behind the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Mazda3. Since June this year, the Astra averages 116 units per month. Those mentioned above do well over 200 units per month.
The Renault Kadjar has been on the market since June 2016 and has begun to gain some sales momentum. Based on the Nissan Qashqai's platform, it has a more up-to-date infotainment system and is aimed at buyers who are looking for something a little different from their SUV. It was unlikely to be a major player in the market, but Renault is a brand on the front foot and sales are steadily creeping up (October 2016 saw a sales high of 105 units). On average, 57 Kadjars have been sold per month since June 2016.
The pint-sized Aygo is one of the finalists in the Budget Car category of the Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, but how has it been doing on the sales charts? It can’t match its larger Etios sibling for sales success (despite being cheaper), but compared with its direct competitor, the Volkswagen Up!, the Toyota sells similarly, if ever so-slightly-less, per month. Currently, the Aygo is averaging 180 units a month.
Once the new Fortuner arrived in April this year, there was never any doubt as to who the bakkie-based SUV champ would be. In fact, the title of overall SUV champ has to go to the Fortuner. The Ford Everest plays a good game as does the Trailblazer, but the Fortuner is by far and away the market leader, often quadrupling (or more) its competitors' monthly sales figures. After 6 full months on sale, the Fortuner averages a whopping 1 290 units a month.
Overall, the Toyota Hilux is SA’s best-selling vehicle and, it looks set to continue that trend in 2016. A late surge of sales from the Ford Ranger is unlikely to overturn the Hilux’s sales lead. The new model’s launch in February, put clear daylight between it and the Ranger with Toyota moving 3 100 units a month.