For a big sales boost, upmarket brands head downmarket
#25: BMW X1
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 28.1% to 823 – It was hard to believe BMW could expand the X1’s sales after the brand’s smallest utility vehicle suddenly faced a unified surge in opposition. The Audi Q3 arrived in August; the Mercedes-Benz GLA a month later. After attracting an average of 253 monthly sales in the nine months leading up to the Q3’s launch, BMW has sold an average of 201 X1 sales in the nine months since.
#24: Cadillac ATS
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 13.9% to 876 – Cadillac’s best-selling car faces the same problem as the other cars in Cadillac’s lineup: declining Canadian sales. The CTS is down 20% to just 243 units through four months. XTS volume has fallen 6% to 190 units. The bigger problem for Cadillac – total sales of which are up 16% this year because of strong SRX and Escalade demand – isn’t the Canadian car results but the results in the brand’s home market. Cadillac passenger car sales are down 20% in the U.S. this year, a loss of 5909 sales.
#23: Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: 904 – Mercedes-Benz’s latest crossover is the entry point to the brand’s five-model SUV/CUV lineup. The GLA is basically an ever so slightly elevated hatchback version of the CLA sedan. On sale since September, 1868 GLAs have been sold so far, more than BMW’s X1 has mustered; a bit less than the Audi Q3 managed.
#22: Mercedes-Benz E-Class/CLS-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 19.6% to 908 – Unfortunately Mercedes-Benz’s Canadian sales figures combine the E-Class and its sleeker CLS-Class offshoot. (Based on U.S. results, we could assume the CLS accounts for approximately 11% of the pair’s total.) Combined E-Class/CLS-Class sales increased 7% in April 2015 after six consecutive months of year-over-year decline.
#21: Infiniti Q50
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 14.4% to 968 – Infiniti’s successor to the G sedan is only a couple years old, but it’s struggled to get a footing in the hyper-competitive luxury sports sedan class. Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class, for exmaple, has outsold the Q50 by a 3.6-to-1 count so far this year, and the Q50 has also been outsold by rivals like the BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, Audi A4, Acura TLX, and Lexus IS, not to mention entry-level luxury cars like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA.
#20: Audi Q3
- April 2015 YTD Sales: 1001 – Audi launched their smallest crossover in many markets four years ago but the Q3 didn’t arrive in Canada until August of last year. So far this year, the Q3 is outselling its established rival, BMW’s X1, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, which arrived one month after the Q3. Together, the Q3 and A3, Audi’s entry-level pairing, account for 28% of Audi Canada’s year-to-date volume.
#19: Lexus IS
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 15.8% to 1021 – Toyota’s premium Lexus division generates nearly two-thirds of its volume with SUVs and crossovers. But on the car side of the equation, the IS is the major player, accounting for 43% of Lexus car sales in Canada. Why are IS sales declining in early 2015? The RC coupe, which arrived last November, is likely stealing some attention away from the IS sedan, which hadn’t offered the most spacious rear seat to begin with.
#18: Infiniti QX60
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 7.5% to 1135 – Infiniti’s Pathfinder-based QX60 was formerly known as the JX35. With convenient second-row operation and an MSRP that undercuts the Acura MDX by nearly $10,000, the QX60 is Infiniti’s best-selling model, though not a more popular vehicle than that MDX.
#17: Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 15.8% to 1177 – The idea of an entry-level, front-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz sedan with a price tag under $35K may not please Mercedes-Benz fans who came of age in the 70s and 80s. But the CLA has undeniably been a success for Mercedes-Benz Canada. 5636 CLAs have found owners since the car arrived in the fall of 2013.
#16: Audi A3
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 610% to 1228 – Audi Canada set an A3 sales record with 548 units in April 2015, an especially believable fact when you consider the momentum created by Audi’s entry-level car since the A3 sedan arrived to replace the previous A3 hatchback. Although A3s were only sold in Canada for the final nine months of 2014, it ended as the best year ever for the A3 nameplate. Audi is on track to sell significantly more than 3000 A3s in 2015.
#15: BMW 4-Series
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 115% to 1437 – BMW’s 4-Series is much more than coupe and convertible versions of the 3-Series that used to be called the 3-Series. Now the 4-Series includes the Gran Coupe, a sleek four-door hatchback. With a broad lineup and sufficient differentiation from the 3-Series, it’s no wonder the 4-Series can put up big Canadian sales figures.
#14: Cadillac SRX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 7.2% to 1438 – As the second-generation SRX ages and struggles to maintain demand in its home market, Canadian sales continue to expand. 2013 volume was up 21%. 2014 SRX sales jumped a further 10%. The SRX accounts for 42% of Cadillac’s Canadian sales in early 2015.
#13: BMW X5
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 32.5% to 1537 – After last year’s best-ever Canadian X5 sales performance – volume rose 16%, year-over-year – matching that pace has proven impossible for BMW Canada in early 2015. No longer introducing a new model and ridding themselves of outgoing X5s, the three-row BMW has come back to Earth. And yet, by historical measure, it’s still selling very well for a luxury SUV with a price tag above $65,000.
#12: Acura TLX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: 1550 – The TLX is Acura’s solo effort to replace a duo that had become increasingly unpopular in Canada. The TL (which saw its sales slide 59% between 2004 and 2013) and TSX (which fell 69% between 2008 and 2013) are gone. Cars are no longer big business in Acura showrooms, as the bulk of the brand’s success is crossover-derived. But early on, the TLX is faring much better than the TL and TSX did at the end of their respective runs.
#11: Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 4.4% to 1577 – Now in relatively old age – the GLK was introduced way back in 2009 – and no longer the entry point to Mercedes-Benz’s SUV range, demand for the GLK is waning somewhat. Sales peaked at 5979 units in 2013 and slid 6% in 2014. The current pace suggests Mercedes-Benz will still be able to sell more than 5000 GLKs in 2015, and if so, it’ll be the seventh consecutive year the brand was able to do so.
#10: Acura MDX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 11.1% to 1578 – Acura’s larger of two crossovers is the brand’s three-row challenger to vehicles like the more costly BMW X5, Audi Q7, and Mercedes-Benz GL. But the MDX is more popular than those vehicles, so perhaps we should be saying that the X5, Q7, and GL must challenge the MDX. 2014 was the best year yet for the MDX, but Acura has failed to match that sales pace through the first four months of 2015.
#9: Lexus NX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: 1628 – Toyota Canada has only been selling the NX crossover for five months, but while the newest Lexus debuted to mixed stylistic responses, it was an instantaneous hit in the marketplace. Ranked ninth overall in premium auto sales, the NX is Canada’s sixth-best-selling premium brand utility vehicle. April was its best month so far with 549 sales. 1878 have been sold since December.
#8: BMW X3
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 15.7% to 1637 – Along with the Land Rover Freelander (which became the LR2 and is now becoming the Discovery Sport), the BMW X3 helped launch a category which now includes vehicles from Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo. After averaging fewer than 2700 annual Canadian sales between 2004 and 2010, BMW now routinely sells more than 5000 X3s in Canada per year. At the current rate of improvement, the brand could top the 6K mark in 2015.
#7: Mercedes-Benz M-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 1.2% to 1816 – An early contender in the luxury SUV sales race, the M-Class won’t be the M-Class for long. Mercedes-Benz is changing its name to GLE in order to better fit inside a portfolio that includes the GLA, GLK, GL, and G. Whether perfectly sensible or utterly confusing, the name change is unlikely to impact the ML’s success. Mercedes-Benz will likely sell more than 5500 copies in 2015, approximately double what they sold as recently as 2007.
#6: Audi A4
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 6.8% to 1836 – The A4 is, in many respects, an aged wonder. Unveiled in the latter part of 2007, the A4 has undergone significant updates but is still more than seven years old. Competitors – not just the better-selling BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class but cars like the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 – are all far more recent designs. And yet the A4’s average annual Canadian sales pace over the last three years is 20% better than it was during the previous three years.
#5: Lexus RX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 14.1% to 1996 – Traditionally North America’s best-selling premium SUV/CUV and one of the top-selling luxury vehicles regardless of bodystyle, the RX is stumbling in early 2015 because an all-new RX is set to arrive. Still a two-row utility vehicle, the 2016 RX can move upmarket because of a smaller vehicle in Lexus’s crossover lineup, the NX.
#4: Acura RDX
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 4.7% to 2102 – Often regarded as a mid-tier brand with greater Buick likeness than Cadillac similarity, there’s still no doubt that Acura is a dominant player in the premium crossover arena. RDX sales have slipped slightly in the early part of 2015, but the smallest Acura CUV is nevertheless a mighty player in its segment. 841 copies were sold in April.
#3: Audi Q5
- April 2015 YTD Sales: down 3.2% to 2274 – Canada’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle has existed in first-generation form since 2009. In late 2014, the Q5 gained a new challenger in the form of Audi’s own more affordable Q3. That car, in combination with other direct challengers for the Q5 and the Q5’s own age, has brought about a slight Q5 sales decline in a booming SUV/CUV market.
#2: BMW 3-Series
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 16.8% to 2784 – The 3-Series hasn’t fallen back from its regular perch atop the leaderboard because its sales are declining. In fact, 3-Series sales are up 17% during a period in which new car volume in Canada is flat. But sales of the 3-Series’ chief rival are growing faster. Moreover, 3-Series sales are now split between 3er and 4er, the latter having been just a part of the 3-Series lineup until the recent past.
#1: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
- April 2015 YTD Sales: up 60.2% to 3524 – Newly launched for the 2015 model year, the C-Class’s surge comes after a 13% year-over-year decline through the first four months of 2014. Perennially positioned as the second-best-selling premium brand vehicle in Canada, the C-Class is currently 740 sales ahead of the second-ranked BMW 3-Series with eight months remaining.
Luxury isn’t just something you can encounter inside a premium version of a volume brand car like the Toyota Avalon or GMC Yukon. Features for which you’ll often pay extra on an entry-level “premium brand” car are now standard on Kias costing way less than $30,000.
Yes, the market has skewed, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Acura, Lexus, Cadillac, Infiniti, Porsche, Lincoln, Land Rover, Volvo, and Jaguar are still viewed as a cut above in terms of image and prestige, albeit in some cases just a snip above and in others many cuts above.
Through April, these are the top sellers in Canada from those brands, regardless of price, regardless of how many “luxury” vehicles are sold by mainstream automakers.