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SUBARU has a new in-house sales champion, the XV, which is riding the small-SUV wave of popularity in Australia to notch record sales for the Japanese company’s smallest crossover.

This year, XV sales are up an impressive 106 per cent, not only pushing it ahead of Subaru’s long-time leader, the Forester medium SUV, for the first time, but also moving it up from fifth place last year to third on the 2018 small-SUV segment sales ladder behind the reigning number one, the Mitsubishi ASX, and second-placed Mazda CX-3.

So far this year, the XV is averaging a little under 1000 sales a month, peaking last month with a handy 1139 sales, representing a 177 per cent jump in volume compared with April last year for a 12.8 per cent share of the segment.

Up and up: Subaru XV’s sales rise is one of the main reasons that the Japanese marque has achieved 40 consecutive months of sales growth in Australia.

Originally launched in 2012 as a standalone model based on the Subaru Impreza small car, the XV made an immediate impact for Subaru, adding 9908 sales in its first year to help Subaru to a healthy 18.2 per cent sales gain that year.

An all-new second-generation XV launched in the middle of last year has added fresh impetus to the model’s sales. A lot of the credit can go to Subaru’s new modular platform that has transformed the little all-wheel-drive wagon with big-car qualities of silky ride, quietness and handling.

The XV was the second Subaru model after the 2016 Impreza to move on to the new global architecture, and it will not be the last. A new-generation Forester is on the launch pad for this year after being revealed at the recent New York motor show.

The Forester is Subaru Australia’s big model launch this year, and while it will not be the complete story – we expect a plug-in hybrid Forester will come at some point in its model life – it is certain to enjoy a sales fillip in the latter part of the year.

Subaru Outback

The question is: will the makeover be sufficient for the larger SUV to regain its lead from its feisty smaller sibling before year’s end?

We are guessing that the sales executives at Subaru Australia don’t care, as long as both models are moving onwards and upwards steadily – the brand’s hallmark in Australia.

The company has racked up a remarkable 40 consecutive months of growth. This year, Subaru’s sales are running 4.5 per cent ahead of last year, just up on the overall market growth of 3.3 per cent.

It is this consistency that sets Subaru apart from many of its competitors, especially some of the Japanese brands (Toyota and Mazda excluded) that porpoise along, up one year and slipping the next.

Subaru Forester

Subaru draws strength from its new-model launch program that always seems to have a major makeover for one of its volume sellers in the canon ready for firing.

Three years ago, it was the Outback large SUV that, after a few years in decline, received a workout from the designers and engineers, taking its sales from just 2457 in 2014 to a peak of 12,207 units in 2016, almost toppling the Forester from its perch that year.

Since then it has slipped a little, but as always, Subaru had something sparkling and new coming along, namely the new Impreza in 2016, and then the XV in 2017.

Over the years, Subaru has bumped along just in the annual top 10 (10th with 52,511 sales in 2017), but has slipped out to 11th this year, leap-frogged by Honda, mainly because of a massive jump in sales of the new CR-V SUV.

With Subaru’s Forester set to return serve with an all-new model waiting in the wings and a rampaging XV hitting new heights, it will be an interesting race to the finish line on December 31.

By Ron Hammerton

Manheim
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