Become a Member: Get Ad-Free Access to All Our Content

Success stories of 2016: Europe

A new year is always a nice opportunity to reflect on the past year and in our case, that means looking at which cars have sold surprisingly well in 2016 and which do we expect to surprise in 2017. We’ll also look at which cars or brands have disappointed from a sales volume point of view in a separate article. Click the following links to check back on last year’s surprises or disappointments.

1. Skoda Superb

The third generation Superb has been an instant hit, breaking all records of its predecessors. In 2016 alone, approximately 86.000 Superbs were sold (79.200 through November), one sixth of its cumulative total of 518.000 European sales in 15 years and three generations. The Superb has improved with every generation: the first generation, which basically a long wheelbase Volkswagen Passat with a Skoda grille, sold an average of 15.500 annual units during its 7-year long career. The second generation with the double trunklid took the model to the next level with an average of 46.200 annual sales in its equally long career, peaking at 56.000 in 2011. But when the third generation launched in 2015 the Superb achieved new heights: its previous annual record has been smashed by 50% and for the first time the nameplate took 2nd place in the midsized segment, behind the Passat but comfortably ahead of segment mainstays like the Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and Ford Mondeo. All on the same recipe as before: value for money, conservative styling, and above average interior room.


2. Mercedes-Benz

Until 2007, Mercedes-Benz had been the virtually uncontested best selling luxury brand in Europe for decades, with the exception of two years (1992 and 1993) when BMW outsold it briefly. In 2009 Audi took over and held on to that title for 7 straight years. However, in 2016 the brand with the star logo struck back and reclaimed its crown, helped by record sales of over 800.000 units for the first time ever (770.800 through November), smashing its previous best of over 741.000 sales in 2001. This was achieved by strong sales of its compact car line-up, the launch of the new generation E-Class, a new GLC which quickly made us forget about the disappointing GLK, and an ever-expanding line-up. The GLE Coupe has given its rival BMW X6 a run for its money in its first year of sales, and 2016 also added coupe versions of the GLC, S-Class and C-Class as well as convertible versions of the latter two.


3. Volkswagen Touran and Tiguan

Despite VW’s dominance in the compact car segment with the Golf, its crossover and MPV versions have never been able to top the charts of their respective segments. But with the second generations of both models launched last year, that has changed. For the first time ever, the Volkswagen Touran is the best selling midsized MPV, beating the two French models that have alternated for segment leadership for the past decades. The Renault Scenic may strike back in 2017 with its new generation, but in 2016 the Touran was tops. With approximately just over 110.000 sales (103.900 through November), it hasn’t come close to breaking its annual record of over 190.000 units in 2004, but that year the segment was more than twice as large in sales volume as it is now and the Scenic sold a whopping 319.000 copies vs. less than 80.000 in 2016.

The Tiguan hasn’t (yet) been able to knock the Nissan Qashqai off its full-year throne, but it did outsell the long-standing segment leader in August, October, November and most likely in December and has hit record sales for the nameplate, bringing it closer than ever to the segment top spot and indicating 2017 may be the first time the perennial #2 of the segment has a shot at dethroning the #1.


What are your surprises of 2016? And do you have a brand or model in mind that may surprise next year? Let me know in the comments below.