Sales in the Small Car segment are down so far in 2020, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

    This vehicle segment is where hugely popular offerings such as the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3 and Hyundai i30 live. At the higher echelons, you’ll find the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Audi A3.

    Let’s look at the sales performances of these key cars, and all their competitors, during the course of the year.


    Sales of new vehicles classified as Small Cars, by industry statistics database VFACTS, are down 29.6 per cent in 2020 so far, to a cumulative tally of 90,575 sales and a market share of 14 per cent.

    At the same point in 2019, vehicles belonging to this segment had 15.9 per cent total market share. In 2018 the share figure was 17.6 per cent, in 2017 it was 18.4 per cent, in 2016 it was 19.3 per cent, in 2015 it was 20.6 per cent, in 2014 it was 22.7 per cent, and in 2013 it was 23.1 per cent.

    In short, low-riding hatchbacks and sedans that fit into this arbitrary category are being steadily eclipsed in popularity by Small and Medium SUVs, which offer a more commanding driving position.

    The combined market share of Small and Medium SUVs at this point in 2013 was 17.2 per cent, but in 2020 it sits at 29.5 per cent.

    Small car market share tumbling - how is yours selling?
    Source: VFACTS

    Small Cars <$40,000 average – sales in 2020

    The Corolla sits atop the charts, and because its sales reduction rate is lower than the segment as a whole it has actually grown market share in 2020 to 23.4 per cent. About half of these sales of the the hybrid variants, which explains why the Prius’s sales are now so low.

    The Hyundai i30 hatch sits second, and if you add the Elantra sedan (the Corolla figure counts sedan and hatch sales) then the gap closes to 2000 units. Given an updated i30 hatch is arriving in showrooms now, and a brand new i30 sedan launches before year’s end, it’s possible that Hyundai will overtake Toyota in 2021 in this segment.

    The Kia Cerato sedan and hatch now sits third on the charts, having overtaken the Mazda 3 which now sits fourth. The ‘3’ family is down a stark 49.2 per cent year-on-year, though in fairness Mazda’s decision to increase pricing (and spec) means it projected reduced sales.

    Rounding out the top five is the runout ‘Mk 7.5’ Volkswagen Golf, which will be replaced by the new-generation Mk 8 model early next year (normal and GTI models first, then the R a few months later).

    The running order below the Golf goes Honda Civic (5376 sales YTD), Subaru Impreza (2528, or 3363 if you include the WRX that’s counted separately), Ford Focus (1594, including the Focus Active), the aforementioned Hyundai Elantra that’s being replaced soon (1382), the defunct Holden Astra (1238), and the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid/PHEV/EV range (391).

    The Renault Megane is now sold exclusively in R.S. 300 guise and will come in for an update early next year. The Peugeot 308 will also get an update in early 2021 that’ll see it out until an all-new replacement arrives.

    The Skoda Rapid has been axed and replaced by the newly launched Scala, and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta is being retired and will likely be replaced by the Tonale small SUV due to enter production from 2021.

    You can the full list of segment sales below.

    ModelJan-Sept 2020 sales% Change Over Jan-Sept 2019
    Toyota Corolla18,649-20.1%
    Hyundai i3015,260-30.3%
    Kia Cerato13,002-22.6%
    Volkswagen Golf8,169-26.3%
    Honda Civic5,376-33.8%
    Subaru Impreza2,528-28.0%
    Ford Focus1,594-45.4%
    Hyundai Elantra1,382-36.0%
    Holden Astra1,238-67.2%
    Subaru WRX835+7.3%
    Hyundai Ioniq391+13.0%
    Toyota Prius V213-23.1%
    Renault Megane167-39.9%
    Peugeot 308125-57.6%
    Skoda Rapid102-54.7%
    Alfa Romeo Giulietta79-43.2%
    Toyota Prius66-51.8%
    Skoda Scala31

    Small Cars >$40,000 average – sales in 2020

    The Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch and sedan family dominates the premium end of the market in 2020, growing its sales 31 per cent to 4796 units. That’s equal to a massive 44.4 per cent market share. It also means it has tripled the sales of Ford’s Focus, for context.

    The Audi A3 hatch and sedan sits second, though expect this to be bolstered by the arrival of the new-generation model in 2021.

    The front- and all-wheel drive BMW 1 Series hatch rounds out the podium, though if you add the 2 Series Gran Coupe – which is a re-bodied derivative essentially – then the pair overtake Audi.

    The Nissan Leaf EV will expand next year as demand for greener cars grows and when the extended-range Leaf e-Plus touches down. The Mini Clubman is defiantly niche, ditto the Lexus CT hybrid that we expect will not be replaced (the UX small SUV plays that role).

    ModelJan-Sept 2020 sales% Change Over Jan-Sept 2019
    Mercedes-Benz A-Class4796+31.0%
    Audi A31964-22.7%
    BMW 1 Series1853+5.7%
    BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe1081
    Mercedes-Benz B-Class392-41.0%
    Nissan Leaf291+1.7%
    Mini Clubman286+43.0%
    Lexus CT200H75-48.3%
    BMW i344-26.7%
    BMW 2 Series Active Tourer9-71.0%

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    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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