Premium brands on track to win battle for midsize segment

New models such as the Jaguar XE are boosting the premium midsize segment.

Sales of luxury midsize cars in Europe are on track to top sales of mass-market rivals this year for the first time as buyers looking to move upscale increasingly choose Mercedes, Audi or BMW cars over mass-market brands.

European sales of premium midsize models jumped by 8 percent to 652,000 through November while sales of mainstream midsize cars rose by just 1 percent to 582,000, according to JATO Dynamics market researchers.

The trend is likely to continue in December, giving premium brand the greater share of European midsize new-car sales.

“Aspirational” buyers seeking upscale models are helping premium midsize sales to grow faster than their mainstream counterparts, said JATO Dynamics global analyst Felipe Munoz.

Sales of mass-market midsize cars such as the Volkswagen Passat or Ford Mondeo are also being hit by the increasing popularity of SUV/crossovers, Munoz said.

German premium brands have also been expanded their midsize lineups beyond traditional sedans and station wagons with cars such as the BMW 3 series GT fastback and the Audi A5 range. For BMW, renaming its 3-series coupe as the the BMW 4 series coupe has been a success.

Premium automakers are also now selling cheaper entry-level models and new luxury midsize cars such as the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia also have boosted sales.

“There are fewer and fewer reasons to buy a large mainstream sedan or station wagon,@ Munoz said.

Among mass-market brands, automakers such as Fiat, Honda and Nissan have exited the midsize segment in Europe.

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