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Sports cars show resilience
Recession-hit two-seater sportscars bounce back already
30 Apr 2009
By IAN PORTER
THEY might be considered an indulgence and an unnecessary purchase, but those who lust after sports cars are clearly not easily deflected.
They have shown some unexpected strength in a market otherwise ravaged by the financial crisis.
Of course, deciding exactly what qualifies as a sports car is a thorny issue. The official VFACTS tally includes all the coupe-convertibles from makers like Holden, Mini, Peugeot and Volkswagen together as sports cars but, for our purposes, we are mainly looking at two seaters here, even if some are slower than an XR6 Turbo.
Included in the graph is a category called supercars. This comprises the mega-expensive models from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Audi (R8), but not some borderline models such as the XKR, Aston Martins and BMW 6 Series which can more accurately be classified as grand tourers.
And the supercars category does not include the Porsche 911, which scores its own position in the graph because it usually sells astonishingly well, despite its price tag.
The bars in the window show that the segment has rebounded strongly from the lows of 1060 and 1073 cars in November and December.
Top: Mazda MX-5. Below: Porsche 911.
In March, 1288 sports cars of all types (two-seaters, coupe/cabrios and GTs) rolled out of the showrooms, a number not far below the 12-month average of 1313 vehicles.
And, if you exclude the bloated June figure of 1883 – no doubt a reflection of private business owners securing one last tax deduction (sorry, reward, in Porsche-speak) – the latest figure was ahead of the average for the other 11 months (1261 units).
The Audi TT trace is the most spectacular, and Audi’s Anna Burgdorf reckons the March spike this year probably reflected the arrival of a shipment. But, while the graph might jig around a bit, it is clear the TT is a hot item.
“The TT has always been a strong performer. We normally lead the market segment,” Ms Burgdorf said.
Perhaps it’s the emotional side of the buyer and the animal attraction a sports car evinces, but buyers set on buying a sports car are hard to deflect, it seems.
“The segment is not as easily affected as the lower-priced segments, and Audi has not seen a drop in consumer confidence,” Ms Burgdorf said. “People might be taking longer to make decisions, but they are still buying.”
Mazda is also doing well, as you might expect from one of the biggest sportscar makers in the world. The Maxda RX8 has been surprisingly strong, thanks to the introduction of the Luxury and GT versions with the July 2008 facelift.
The MX5 has done remarkably well, considering it was in run-out until the upgraded model was launched in March. Mazda can expect a good lift in sales from April.
One model that does appear to have taken a knock is the 911. While the Cayman/Boxster has recovered lost ground, the 911, which has just been renewed across the range, seems to be performing like the supercars group in general, with an occasional spike.
The 350Z’s current low position reflects that fact that the 370Z is almost here. Watch the chart jump then.
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