SUV Sales Outpacing Family Cars In The UK

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
suv sales outpacing family cars in the uk

Just as McDonald’s resturants successfully introduced themselves into food-conscious Europe, another American-derived invasive species could be entering and killing off the native fauna.

At a briefing for the launch of the Ford Kuga (aka our Escape), Ford’s Alex Gallagher told Just-Auto that SUV sales are far outpacing sales of D-Segment cars, or what we call mid-size cars in North America. Europe’s D-segment includes not just sedans, but also hatchback and wagon variants as well.

Over the last 5 years, sales of SUVs have more than doubled, to 250,000 units annually, eclipsing D-segment sales for the first time last month. Despite SUVs being primarily thought of as an American product, Gallagher cites the Nissan Qashqai and Juke as the driving force behind the switch to SUVs. Last month, the Qashqai and Juke ranked 5th and 9th respectively in a top 10 list dominated by small B-segment hatchbacks. In 2012, the 6th place Qashqai outsold the 13th place Vauxhall Insignia (the top selling D-segment car) by roughly 13,000 units, and outsold the Ford Mondeo and VW Passat (the second and third place D-segment cars) by a 2:1 ratio.

While SUVs were once derided as vehicles for farmers, mobsters or over-indulged housewives (at one time being labeled “Chelsea tractors, after the tony London neighborhood) the newest crop of SUVs are more in the dreaded crossover template than anything else. Despite the accepted binary dynamic whereby wagons= good and crossovers=bad, the much maligned two-box vehicles have won high praise from both critics and consumers on the continent. Even Chris Harris went ga-ga for the Dacia Duster, praising it for its simplicity and calling it “ the most significant new motorcar launched in the past decade“.

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  • Highrpm Highrpm on Feb 27, 2013

    These are all OK but not very interesting. You know what is interesting? Those Toyota and Nissan vans that you can get in Mexico. I don't remember the name but they have very little front overhang and come with a manual trans.

    • Spartan Spartan on Feb 27, 2013

      I've driven many vans like that, particularly the Toyota Hi-Ace when I was deployed. There's nothing interesting about them. They're loud inside, low on power and not very comfortable at all. I think this is a case of you wanting something they can't have since you can't get it here.

  • Wmba Wmba on Feb 27, 2013

    Is McDonalds really a restaurant? I see no sign of waiting staff at the tables, and a permeating aura of a cheap cafeteria serving mediocre food in an overlit ambience. Rah, rah. Just as the first Ford Cortina GT debased the meaning of Grand Turismo, McDonalds debased the meaning of restaurant. With the UK self-admittedly leading the way in Europe for obesity and keeping up well with North America in that regard, the resulting demographic shift to folks unable to bend down to pick up a sov, means that the chance to wobble sideways into a high vehicle has high desirability. Once enthroned, hey you're King of the Road again.

  • CelticPete CelticPete on Feb 28, 2013

    This is not surprising to me anyway. The average FWD midsize is utterly souless and the most common one (the Camry) is driven by 60 something. The only thing good about it is that they drive marginally better then a Prius. If you are going to settle on something souless - why not get something with some utility. The CUV can handle inclement weather a bit better, has more storage, provides the better visibility women like, and looks better then a economy car (which is pretty much what they are). Yes they don't drive as nice as an Accord. But all FWD automatic vehicles drive fairly awful anyway.. I'd bet even in Europe plenty of these things are autos.

    • See 2 previous
    • CelticPete CelticPete on Mar 03, 2013

      @Marcelo de Vasconcellos It's amazing how many 'enthusiasts' are swayed by stiff shocks and different dampening rates. Camry FWD. Macpherson Strut front with Mac Macpherson rear(multi-link) with dual stabilizer bars. EPS steering. Disk/Disk brakes. 6 speed auto 3200 lbs. With roughly 60/40 weight split. Around 178hp/170lbs torque Mazda 6. About 3200lbs. About 185/180 hp. FWD. Roughly 60/40 weight split. 6 speed auto. Macpherson strut front and multilink rear.. (with stablizer bars). I suppose one is really 'soulful' and fun to drive whereas the other one is souless eh? Cars in this segement are EXTREMELY close..the idea that the Mazda is a blast of fun and the Camry is dull as dishwasher sounds like marketing fluff. None of them are an Ariel Atom or even a Mustang. I have rented a Camry. But it drives OKAY. Its a pretty dull appliance. Cars in this segement just aren't fun enough to outweigh the utility of an SUV for most drivers - especially with the automatics. I haven't yet driven a Mazda 6 but call me skeptical about its awesome sportiness. Seems an awful lot like a Camry spec wise.

  • Junebug Junebug on Feb 28, 2013

    Almost made it through all these comments without the Camry hate, WTF is it about this car that has the C&D and MT boys all nit-picking it to death after first saying it's selling more than anything else in it's class? It's boring, bland, not what it use to be blah blah.. MT's review said it was so quiet while C&D had rattles and sqeaks, and forgot which said that the dash reflects into the windshield (blatant lie) and the silver trim is easily scratched with a fingernail (another lie). Let me tell you, I was looking for a car in this class and I considered a few, here are the cars and reasons: Fuson - too many issues, not convinced that a 1.6 was right for this and my Taurus had become a POS so maybe I was tainted in judgement Mazda 6 - not a bad car, and my daughter's 3 has been flawless, too bad the dealer wouldn't return emails Chevy -? no thanks, burned that bridge years ago Nissan Altima - I had a 1994 and loved it, then I read page after page of blistering rage against this car on Edmunds Consumer reviews - ah, no thanks Honda Accord, I had a 2008 and it was ok, nothing great and being a part time detailer, I got tired of trying to keep that soft paint from being scratched, and, I just didn't like the control lay-out that much. That leaves Toyota Camry, ok - looks are subjective, I like it and you didn't send me any cash so shut up, it drives fine, I get 31.4 mpg, it's a nice smooth ride but has plenty of git up if needed and the fit and finish are as good or better than anything else in it's price range. Oh - and a drove a GTI from 2008 to 2012 so I know all about the "sporty ride/handling etc" and honestly, unless you just like driving like you're a teenager, the only advantage of the GTI is the hatch. I'm 53, not 60 but I'll probably still have the Camry when I reach 60 - God willing and such.