For a region that’s long been associated with hatchbacks and wagons, European consumers are fast falling in love with SUVs. According to data compiled by Jato Dynamics, a total of 15.6 million vehicles were registered last year in Europe, which by Jato Dynamics definition include not just countries in the European Union but also the UK, Sweden, and Norway.
Of that total, 5.4 million were SUVs, up 19 percent from 2017. Although the Volkswagen Tiguan-class of small SUVs still dominate (totaling 2.3 million for 2018), it’s the sub-compact SUV segment that’s growing the fastest, up 29 percent from last year, totaling 2 million units.
Leading the segment is the Renault Captur, with 214,720 units finding new buyers last year followed by the Dacia Duster (182,100 units), Peugeot 2008 (180,204 units), Volkswagen T-Roc (143,319 units), with the Opel Mokka (120,601 units) rounding up the segment’s top-five.
Finishing just outside the top-five is the Ford EcoSport (112,333 units).
Europe’s best-selling cars are often the total opposite of what’s popular in our part of the world. A wide dealer network with a long history in the local markets, homologation regulations and trade agreements that favour products made by countries from the European Union mean that Asian brands are typically less popular there.
Among the Asian brands, it is the made in Britain Nissan Juke that carries the flag for Japan in Europe, coming in at 14th place with 67,647 units sold.
The Honda HR-V may be the undisputed segment leader in our region but it sold only a paltry 25,863 units in Europe, putting it last at 21st place in Jato Dynamics' charts. There, Honda is better known for motorcycles rather than cars.
The Mitsubishi ASX – grouped within this segment due to its market positioning despite riding on a larger C-segment platform - did slightly better at 32,004 units (ranked 20th) while the Mazda CX-3 topped the list of Japan-made crossovers with 56,389 units (ranked 17th).
However, the impending ‘Brexit’ of the UK from the European Union might severely affect the Nissan Juke’s competitiveness. Nissan has already announced that it is abandoning its initial plans produce the next generation X-Trail at its Sunderland plant in the UK and the Juke’s future at the Sunderland plant is uncertain.
Closer to home, the Malaysia’s Competition Act limits the transparency of detailed breakdown of vehicle sales data, but we do know that the locally-assembled HR-V leads the segment, followed by the Japan-made Mazda CX-3.
The European flavour Renault Captur is assembled at the Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut, which keeps the price at a rather competitive RM105,980. The money buys you a peppy 1.2-litre turbocharged engine that makes 120 PS and 190 Nm, driving the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
However the reception towards the Captur here has been lukewarm, for the same reasons why the Honda HR-V doesn’t sell very well in Europe.
That’s a pity because contrary to popular opinion regarding European cars here, Renault’s after-sales service is excellent, backed by Tan Chong Motor’s TC Euro Cars. It tops competitors with a 5-year/unlimited mileage warranty, and then adds a 5-year/100,000 km free maintenance, plus free pick-up service for scheduled maintenance too. TC Euro will even provide you with a replacement car if your Captur has to be in a workshop for more than 48 hours.