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Not much speed in today’s sportscar market

Pony up: Australia’s sub-$80,000 sportscar segment is up 9.8 per cent YTD, supported by more interest in the Ford Mustang.

Buyer interest in sportscars slides as SUVs, utes, become the new fashion accessory


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14 Jun 2021

AUSTRALIA’S sportscar market shows that desire doesn’t always translate into consummation.


The car “everyone thought they wanted to own” has showed flagging interest in a society that increasingly looks to pragmatic forms of transport, notably the SUV and even the once work-spec ute.


In 2012, the sportscar sector in Australia was booming. Buyers had a choice of three price categories – under $80,000, above $80,000 and the rarefied air of above $200,000.


The sub-$80,000 category had 30 models from 18 brands and the offering was a far cry from today.


Volkswagen, for example, had four models in that segment – Eos, Golf Cabriolet, New Beetle Cabriolet and Scirocco – while Alfa Romeo had three (Brera, GT and Spider) and there were two each from Honda (S2000 and CR-Z) and Peugeot (convertible versions of the 207 and 308).


There were also names that have since disappeared, comprising the Holden Monaro, Saab 9-3 Convertible and Chrysler Sebring Cabriolet.


Choice created a very strong category with 2012 sales of 15,830 units in this sub-$80,000 segment finding new owners, a giant 91.6 per cent up from the 8261 sold in 2011.


The 2012 list of sportscars priced above $80,000 and below $200,000 comprised 19 models from 11 brands including five from Lotus (211, Elise, Exige, Europa and Evora) and one from Caterham, with the Morgan Classic – a brand that is unlikely to return to Australia – and the now departed Infiniti G Coupe and Convertible.


In the $200,000-plus segment were 17 models and apart from the Lexus LFA and Morgan Aero, most of the brands occupying this category in 2012 remain available today.


The total sportscar market in 2012 sold 21,437 units, up 47.1 per cent on 2011 and more than double the segment’s sales in 2020.


Sales continued to rise and by 2016, hit a 10-year high of 27,464 deliveries in 12 months.


That year saw the number of models start to slide. There were 25 models available in the sub-$80,000 segment, including the Abarth 124 Spider (but no Alfas), Holden Astra Sport and Cascada, Kia Cerato Koup and ProCeed, and the first full year of the Ford Mustang that sold 6208 to become the top-selling sportscar.


In the $80,000-$200,000 sector there were 20 players – including the Alfa Romeo 4C – and in the $200,000-plus category, 16 models of choice including the BMW i8 and, returning for the first time in decades, the Honda NSX.


By 2020 the landscape had changed. Sportscars fell from favour between 2018 (18,571 sales) and 2020 (10,677 units, a drop of 25.6 per cent on 2019).


The 2020 offerings were a shadow of a decade earlier. The sub-$80,000 segment had only 10 models, led by the Mustang that commanded 49 per cent of the market with sales of 2923 for the year.


This was followed by the Hyundai Veloster (639 sales) and BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible with 628 sales for the year.


Leading the choice of 21 models in the $80,000-$200,000 segment were the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and convertible with a 35.4 per cent share.


Above $200,000, the Porsche 911 dominated with a 34.8 per cent share. This segment also saw the phase-out of some models, with no sales for the BMW 6 Series, BMW i8, Morgan Aero and Honda NSX.


The first five months of 2021 shows there may be some glowing embers in the category, with the sub-$80,000 segment up 9.8 per cent supported by more interest in the Ford Mustang (now with a 51.8 per cent share).


Despite a couple of players leaving the $80,000-$200,000 bracket – Infiniti Q60 and Lotus Evora – this segment jumped 38.1 per cent while the $200,000-plus sector has fallen 10.4 per cent.


Overall, the sportscar sector for this year to the end of May was up 15.6 per cent. In context, however, the total market was up 37.5 per cent on the same period of 2020.

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