By on March 13, 2011

On most weekends, TTAC publishes the fun, frivolous kinds of stories that don’t make it into our regular weekly coverage, exposing our readers to everything from the hilarity of the LeMons series, to obscure automotive histories to pictorials of such undercovered vehicles as vintage Snow Cats. This weekend, however, TTAC is feeding you your vegetables: sales graphs of the major automotive segments from February. We start our coverage with the subcompact segment, where the Nissan Versa continues to kill the competition, proving yet again that what Americans are looking for in a small car is a large car. Kia’s Soul held off the Fiesta’s attack on the number two spot, while Toyota’s Yaris slipped to Kia Rio volume levels and the Scion xD slipped to the bottom of the chart. Meanwhile, few of the long-established names in this segment are beating their year-ago numbers, but look for that to change if gas prices keep going up.

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18 Comments on “Sales: Subcompact Cars, February 2011...”


  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Two things surprise me about this chart:  1.) That Versa is still selling so well 2.) The Mazda 2 is barely making an impact. 

    The Versa is a great car, no doubt, but I can’t believe the momentum it still has in the market.  And while I never expect the Mazda 2 will be a volume leader, I did expect it to sell far more than what it has. 

    I’m curious what folks here feel is driving both, the success of the Nissan, and the relative failure of the Mazda, especially with the Mazda being a brand new offering.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Versa and Soul at the top of the list show that a lot of people do really care about interior space, and I suppose in particular rear seat space, something I am a bit surprised about in this segment.
       
      Mazda suffers from a small dealer network, and the 2 is really only worth buying if you go for the stick version.  The engine is down on power compared to the competition, and the 4 speed auto just robs it of any potential fun.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Versa and Soul at the top of the list show that a lot of people do really care about interior space, and I suppose in particular rear seat space, something I am a bit surprised about in this segment.
       
      I think you and I have had little debates about this whenever I commented about the Fiesta’s lack of space.  You’d mentioned that people who want space would simply “buy up a size” while I’d commented that, when you have cars like the Versa and Fit packing in huge volumes for the same price that it’s a huge competitive disadvantage to have poor packaging
       
      Consider that buying a bigger car for more interior space, especially in the front row, is a game of declining returns.  The “large” in larger cars is typically ahead of the firewall and aft of the rear axle, and many big cars (obligatory Panther dig here) actually have worse packaging than their tall-roofed subcompact equivalents.  Unless you need three rows of seats, there’s very little actual reason to not buy the Versa (if you carry people) or the Fit (if you carry stuff).
       
      Small cars really are much better packaged than they used to be.  Whereas they used to be big cars shrunk to 5/8th scale**, they’re more often than not packaged like tiny, low-floor crossovers.  Yes, this means they look dorky versus the compacts of our youth, but it means they’re legitimate cars for many, many more people.
       
      ** There’s a Toyota 700 in my local dealer’s showroom.  It’s bult exactly like this, and my five-year old son can drive it.  I can’t even get in the door.  Compare this to the modern Yaris, which is shorter than the 700, but I can get in easily.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Accent and Rio will benefit from Hyundai/Kia’s new look whenever it can be applied.  At this point, they look dated.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Another thought – Is the Nissan Cube considered to be part of this class?  Was it left off the list due to poor sales, or just forgotten?
     
    Compared to the Soul, which seems to be the most logical competitor, the Cube probably suffers a bit on looks, but I’d rate the interior quality a couple notches hire for the the Nissan.  If it isn’t selling at all, I’m a bit surprised.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Having rented the Versa for 4 days in Los Angeles, I will have to admit that it accommodated by 6′ 4″ frame quite well and has a decent back seat.  It is very far from sporting but it will keep up with the traffic on LA’s freeways although acceleration at freeway speeds requires lots of patience.  Acceleration around town at speeds up to 40 mph or so is adequate.
    I did not keep track of how much gas I was using, but in all respects, this seemed to be a functional car that would easily carry 4 people and some stuff, too, without them feeling like sardines.

  • avatar
    SV

    Nice to see the Fiesta doing well after getting off to a slow start. The 2’s sales are really disappointing though; it’s my second favorite subcompact after the Ford but most buyers in this class apparently don’t rate it nearly as highly.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Versa vs Mazda 2 its all in the transmission. Versa offers 3 while the 2 only has manual plus a last century 4-sp auto.
    I’ve seen the 2012 Accent in the metal and it is no longer a small car.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s not the transmission.  The Corolla still offers a four-speed and it’s slaughtering the competition.
       
      It really comes down to what people want.  Enthusiasts might want eighteen-speed transmissions, dolphin-leather interiors and go-kart handling, but what actual buyers want is roomy, comfortable, inexpensive, reasonably quick and acceptably reliable.  The Versa is the only car in this class that nails all of those marks.
       
      The Mazda2, by comparison, nails none of them.  It’s small, cramped, gutless and kind of cheap inside: a Yaris with less space and better handling, or a Fiesta with a little more pep and less trimmings.  Note that the Yaris and Fiesta aren’t lighting up the charts, either.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      psar – The Fiesta is doing pretty well, nipping at the heels of #2 and has a solid lead over #4.
      The transmission I think is an issue just because the car is a Mazda.  Corolla buyers don’t really care about a sporty driving experience, as evidenced by the fact that they are looking at the Corolla in the first place.  Mazda’s whole brand image is about Zoom-Zoom and driver involvement.  While ideally that would mean going with the stick version of the car, those that still want a bit of zoom without having to row their own gears want more than a 4 speed slushbox.  As an enthusiast centered brand, Mazda needs to equip their cars differently than Toyota or Nissan, who are more mass market.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      @Psar: You are absolutely correct. Most people are enthusiasts in the sense of being enthusiastic about their cars safely, reliably and economically getting them from point A to point B! Just as I increasingly am.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Joe Isuzu… where art thou?

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Isuzu had a real shot to break out, but somehow managed to squander some very smart initial moves.
       
      The VehiCross was one of the first real crossovers, and Isuzu made the move to go all SUV right as the SUV market was really exploding.
       
      Deciding to build GM vehicle clones instead of in house designed vehicles certainly didn’t help, and the overall lack of dealerships made it harder to sell what they had that was good, but I’m still surprised Isuzu didn’t do better.
       
      As it is, they still own a huge chunk of the medium duty truck market, so perhaps they decided to concentrate efforts in areas where they already had success instead of putting a lot of money into passenger cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Isuzu discontinued its passenger cars in the US market in 1993.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      By passenger cars I meant SUVs as well, perhaps I should have said passenger vehicles.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Well then the Corolla is out-dated in another segment. Lets see how the new Elantra & Focus do in the coming months. Strange of Mazda really to dish the 2 a 4-sp. Back in the early 90’s when most else was 3-sp Mazda were careful to bring in the 323 tugboat with a class leading 4-sp.
     
    Ford says 80% of Fiesta sales are automatic. Why would you opt for Mazda 2’s outdated when you could go Fiesta dual clutch 6? Ford understands but not the Mazda division. Even Fiat knows better.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Sad to see the 2 doing so poorly.  I agree…given it’s image as the more “sporting” division, the 2 is really saddled with an unsporting disadvantage.  Shame, really…in appearance, I prefer the 2.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’ve seen a total of two Mazda 2s in Southern Maine. A green one sitting at the Mazda/VW/Audi/Porsche dealer (how’s that for a combination?) and I actually saw a black one driving around the other day. It was being driven by a gray haired guy, probably in his 50s. I think I heard that Mazda is supposed to put a better engine in it eventually. Seems like they should have done that to begin with, along with a decent transmission.
     
    Can the Versa still be had for $10000 for a strippo model? If so I would imagine that isn’t hurting its sales. And it’s sad that The $hitveo is selling better than the Yaris.
     


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