How Sports Are Your Cars? We Have Answers

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
how sports are your cars we have answers

Even Mazda, we told you last week, is now selling more crossovers than cars.

One-third of Chevrolet’s U.S. volume is produced by pickup trucks. An SUV now generates more than half of the Bentley brand’s U.S. sales. Half of all Chrysler buyers choose a minivan.

Where are the sports cars?

We don’t expect auto brands to produce the majority of their volume with sports cars. In fact, many auto brands don’t sell any kind of sports car at all. But at TTAC, we’re enthusiasts, even though some of us drive minivans and three-cylinder subcompact hatchbacks and compact sedans. We want sports cars to be part of an automaker’s lineup because there will come a day.

But which auto brands actually produce meaningful volume with sports cars?

To answer this question we ignored “performance versions” of four-door sedans. We excluded coupe variants of sedans for which sales figures either are or are not made available by their respective automakers. And we rejected from contention two-doors such as the Buick Cascada in the interests of our reputation. (Yes, you can argue about the Dodge Challenger’s reputation as a “sports car” and whether it’s essentially just a two-door Charger, but we included it anyhow.)

And then, to reach a conclusion, we also tossed out sales of crossovers, SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks. The real question becomes: which mainstream auto brands produce the greatest percentage of their passenger car sales from sports cars?

Toyota | 1%

Forget Scion, the brand is dead for MY2017. But the Scion FR-S lives on as the Toyota 86.

Through the first eight months of 2016, the FR-S accounted for 0.7 percent of total Toyota/Scion car volume. For every FR-S sold by Scion, Toyota also sells 52 Camrys, 48 Corollas, and 45 RAV4s.

Nissan | 1%

U.S. sales of the Nissan 370Z rose to a five-year high in 2015 but are down 19 percent to 4,292 sales so far this year, a far cry from 36,728 350Zs sold in 2003. That year, the Z alone accounted for 10 percent of Nissan’s U.S. volume.

Now, with SUVs/crossovers bringing in more than one-third of Nissan sales, 370Z volume a fraction of what it was, and the GT-R reporting an expected level of niche volume, only one-half of one percent of Nissan’s total volume is sports car-derived.

Subaru | 3%

True performance in Subaru dealerships is sold in the form of the Impreza-based WRX and STI, sedans which account for one in five Subaru car sales and one out of every 18 total Subaru sales.

But we’re not talking about rally-inspired sedans. The Subaru BRZ, a twin of the Scion FR-S/Toyota 86, is down 20 percent to 3,062 sales this year, representing just 3 percent of Subaru’s 107,203 car sales in 2016’s first eight months.

Mazda | 7%

Mazda truly does imbue all of its vehicles with a sense of Miata. From the Mazda 2, sold as a Scion iA/Toyota Yaris iA sedan in the U.S., to the Mazda CX-9, there’s a sense of relationship in every Mazda to the company’s roadster. Yet the MX-5 Miata is the only sporting Mazda — there aren’t even Mazdaspeed versions of the Miata’s stablemates.

Possibly the most famous Mazda, the MX-5 Miata produces only 7 percent of the brand’s U.S. passenger car volume; only 4 percent of the brand’s total volume.

Fiat | 7%

While only 7 percent of the Fiat brand’s passenger car volume in the first eight months of 2016 were produced by the MX-5 Miata-based 124 Spider, that figure is misleading. The 124 Spider has only become a force for good this summer.

In August, for instance, as sales of the 500 and 500L fell 43 percent to 1,374 units, Fiat sold 460 copies of the 124 Spider, or 25 percent of the brand’s passenger car volume.

Chevrolet | 14%

By way of 47,958 Camaros (down 15 percent, year-over-year) and 19,890 Corvettes (down 17 percent, year-over-year), Chevrolet has generated 67,848 of its 486,342 passenger car sales with sports cars this year.

Combined sales of Chevrolet’s two entry-level models, the Sonic and Spark: 62,716.

Ford | 17%

Ford brand passenger car sales are down 11 percent to 478,777 units this year. The Mustang, America’s leading sports car — and yes, the sixth-gen Mustang is certainly more of a sports car than it’s ever been — outsells all competitors despite a slight downturn compared with 2015.

With 80,829 year-to-date sales, the Mustang outsells the C-Max, Fiesta, and Taurus combined.

Dodge | 31%

Of the 146,634 cars sold by the Dodge brand in the United States in the first eight months of 2016, 45,668 were Challengers and Vipers: 45,260 of the former; 408 of the latter. On both counts, sales of the sports cars are down, but the Challenger (down 4 percent) and Viper (down 11 percent) aren’t falling as fast as the Dodge passenger car range as a whole.

Because of the Dart’s upcoming disappearance, Dodge car sales are down by nearly a fifth this year. Nearly six in ten Dodge sales come from the “light truck” division: Grand Caravan, Durango, Journey.

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Namesakeone Namesakeone on Sep 27, 2016

    I've heard that a sports car has to have a manual transmission (okay, transaxle). This would exclude anything currently made by Ferrari, but would include the Buick Regal. I have also heard that a sports car cannot have a back seat. This would exclude the Porsche 911 (or the late 944, 924 or 928), but include the panel delivery version of the late, unlamented Chevrolet HHR. And a sports car should only have two doors. Include the rental-car variants of the Camaro, Challenger and Mustang; exclude the GTI, WRX and Evo. In other words, it's all but impossible to define what is and what is not a sports car. And all but pointless to try.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Sep 27, 2016

    The Challenger is not even close to being a sports car.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.