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DWINDLING interest in the niche light sedan market has seen Kia pull the plug on its booted Rio and Toyota discontinue its Yaris sedan, but some manufacturers, including Mitsubishi, Mazda and Hyundai, are committed to their offerings despite relatively low sales volume.

Buyers in the segment are now left with a choice of the Honda City, Mazda2, Mitsubishi Mirage, Holden Barina and Hyundai Accent sedans.

Market Insight - Light sedan sales YTD - Click to enlarge

Market Insight – Light sedan sales YTD – Click to enlarge

Toyota and Kia’s move follow Ford’s decision to ditch the Fiesta sedan from its local line-up in 2012, while Nissan discontinued its Micra-based Almera in mid-2014.

With a next-generation Rio soon to be revealed, Kia Australia general manager of media and corporate communications Kevin Hepworth ruled out the possibility of another four-door Rio for the Australian market, although a sedan version is expected to be offered in other markets.

“There is a new model Rio coming, but there won’t be a sedan with it,” he said.

Mr Hepworth said the company made a “business decision” to discontinue the Rio sedan Down Under.

“It was a product decision, but I would suspect they’re normally driven by sales numbers and complexity of model,” he said. “I think about 85 per cent of our sales were hatchback, so it just makes sense to have the one model.”

For the first seven months of this year, Kia has sold 3551 Rios, of which 533 would be sedans, or an average of about 76 a month, if the volume was 15 per cent of the total.

Light’s out: Kia has deleted its Rio sedan and confirmed a four-door next-generation version won’t be made available in Australia.

Light’s out: Kia has deleted its Rio sedan and confirmed a four-door next-generation version won’t be made available in Australia.

Similarly, Toyota Australia product and public relations manager Stephen Coughlan said the decision to delete the Yaris sedan – the last of which was ordered in June – was due to low sales numbers.

“The decision to discontinue the Yaris sedan locally was based on a lack of customer demand for such a vehicle in this segment,” he said.

“We discontinued the three-door body style from our line-up back in 2014, essentially for the same reason – marked shifts in consumer preference in this segment.

“Last year, the split across the segment was almost 90 per cent for the five-door hatch and just seven per cent for the sedan with the balance being three-door hatch.”

Sales for Toyota’s Yaris have reached 7436 to the end of July this year, with sales of the sedan version sitting at about 175 with an average of 25 sold per month.

In comparison, Honda has sold 944 units of its Jazz-based City light car (an average of about 135 per month) representing a year-on-year dip of 36.9 per cent and well off the 5073 Jazz hatches sold.



Honda Australia group public relations manager Neil McDonald said the Japanese car-maker was happy with how the City was selling and the light sedan diversifies its line-up.

“Despite the challengers in the light-car segment, the City is still an important vehicle in our line-up,” he said.

“As a brand we need to ensure our customers have the opportunity to purchase a full range of Honda vehicles – from light cars, right through to SUVs – and City remains a key element to this.”

Mitsubishi has sold just 139 Mirage sedans this year (averaging about 20 cars per month), which is an 87 per cent drop on last year’s figures, making it the lowest-selling model in the car-maker’s line-up by about 1400 units.

Despite the low sales volume, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited head of corporate communications Shayna Welsh said Mirage sedan sales were “traveling to expectations”.

“I think we’ve got limited stock at the moment, which is why we’re not selling in huge numbers, but combined with Mirage (hatch), we’re happy with where sales are at the moment,” she said.

Honda City

Honda City

“We’ve been pretty upfront about our strategy and our focus, internally, and that is we’re always focused on SUVs and LCVs and of course that’s tracking really well for our brand.”

Ms Welsh would not be drawn on whether the Mirage sedan would continue past its current iteration.

“We haven’t got anything to announce on Mirage sedan just yet,” she said.

A facelifted Mirage hatch arrived in showrooms recently but a refreshed sedan variant is yet to be revealed by the Japanese car-maker.

The Mazda2 sedan – introduced locally last August – has accumulated about 2100 sales throughout the year, boosting Mazda sales by 300 a month.

Although the sales figures are far from Mazda’s top-selling Mazda3 or CX-5, Mazda Australia public relations specialist Tony Mee said the Mazda2 sedan offered customers more alternatives in its product line-up.

“It accounts for 25 per cent of our (light car) sales, and if you look at the segment, Mazda2 is still one of the most popular cars in that segment,” he said. “So it certainly has a place in the market and we’re quite pleased with the way numbers are going.

“It gives our customers, and all Mazda2 buyers, choice and that’s what it’s about.”

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai has also enjoyed success with its Accent sedan, selling 1978 (an average of almost 283 per month) this year, which accounts for about 20 per cent of the total Accent volume (10,084).

Hyundai Motor Company Australia public relations general manager Bill Thomas said the Accent sedan was favoured by some buyers over the popular hatchback shape and that it was a welcome addition to the Hyundai line up.

“Some buyers prefer the sedan body style because it’s what they have traditionally favoured,” he said.

“We also know that some buyers prefer the idea of the luggage area being separate from the cabin – for them it better meets their definition of what a ‘real’ car is.

“That’s (the sales figures) quite a significant volume, not a ‘niche’, and reflects the importance of giving customers a choice between body styles wherever possible.

“I would consider the Accent sedan to be very successful and absolutely worthwhile.”

Sales of Holden’s Barina light car have totalled 2840 this year, a 27.5 per cent drop over the same period in 2015, although it is unclear how many have been sedans as Holden did not respond to requests for sales splits.


By Tung Nguyen

Mazda2 Sedan

Mazda2 Sedan