Benz GLC leads pack

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - CRUISE CONTROL | -

SALES of lux­ury SUVs have surged by 54 per cent in the first five months of this year, fig­ures re­leased by industry statis­ti­cian Vfacts show.

Lux­ury brands have sold more SUVs than cars this year, thanks largely to a rush of new mod­els in the most pop­u­lar seg­ments.

Pres­tige sedan sales have re­mained static but over­all lux­ury sales are up by 23 per cent. That com­pares with mod­est growth in the wider mar­ket of less than 4 per cent.

Pres­tige brands are also grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity among SUV buy­ers – one in six opts for a top-end brand.

BMW is the most pop­u­lar choice among lux­ury SUV buy­ers fol­lowed by Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The most pop­u­lar model is Benz’s GLC mid-sized soft­roader (pic­tured), based on the C-Class and launched late last year as an in­stant hit.

Fill­ing out the mi­nor plac­ings are BMW’s fam­ily favourite X5 and Land Rover’s Dis­cov­ery Sport, which re­placed the Free­lander this time last year.

Fuel bills and park­ing wor­ries don’t con­cern the very top end of town, where land yachts cost­ing more than $100,000 are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a renaissance.

Medium SUVs, the fastest grow­ing seg­ment, posted sales growth of 75 per cent over the same pe­riod last year.

BMW’s X3 and X4 are do­ing big num­bers, while the likes of Lexus’s NX, Porsche’s Ma­can and Volvo’s XC60 are also en­joy­ing suc­cess.

Small SUV sales have grown 57 per cent, largely be­cause of the new X1, which has al­most tripled sales since its launch last year. Mercedes GLA and Audi Q3 are also go­ing strongly.

Bent­ley has al­ready sold 10 Ben­tay­gas, de­spite a price tag north of $400,000, while sales of the Lexus LX and Range Rover are up by more than a third.

Growth in this seg­ment, run­ning at 77 per cent, is ex­pected to con­tinue when the Maserati Le­vante ar­rives. AN MK1 Ford RS1600 Es­cort (above) in stun­ning re­stored con­di­tion is a feature en­try of Shan­nons’ Mel­bourne Win­ter auc­tion next month.

Fin­ished in its orig­i­nal fac­tory colour of Day­tona Yel­low, the Bel­gian-de­liv­ered, orig­i­nal left-hand-drive is one of only about 1000 RS1600s pro­duced by Ford be­tween 1970-’74. There are very few sur­viv­ing ex­am­ples, mak­ing this rally-bred pocket-rocket an sought-af­ter clas­sic today.

Built for Group 2 In­ter­na­tional ral­ly­ing, it was based on a strength­ened ver­sion of the Type 49 Es­cort MK1 two-door body.

It was eas­ily dis­tin­guished from lesser Es­cort mod­els by its dis­tinc­tive flared wheel arches, front bumperettes and spe­cial RS badg­ing.

The pro­duc­tion RS1600’s crown­ing glory, that makes it such a col­lec­tors’ item today, is its Lo­tus-made eight-valve twin camshaft 1557cc en­gine. That en­gine pro­duced a healthy 84kW with the help of a pair of 40DHLA We­ber car­bu­ret­tors.

Thanks to the RS1600’s light 785kg weight, it could sprint from 0-100km/h in about nine sec­onds on the way to a top speed of 182km/h.

The RS1600 be­ing auc­tioned is ex­pected to sell in the $100,000-$125,000 range at auc­tion on July 11.

Push­ing the RS1600 hard for buyer ap­peal at the auc­tion will be two Ger­man clas­sics – a 1960 Porsche 356B Cabri­o­let and a circa-1959 Volk­swa­gen “Split Screen” 11-win­dow Kombi Camper­van.

Pre­sented in out­stand­ing, re­stored con­di­tion, the Porsche is fit­ted with en­hance­ments to its orig­i­nal four-cylin­der 1599cc en­gine for im­proved per­for­mance.

Be­cause of the in­creas­ing world­wide col­lectabil­ity of early Porsches, com­bined with its re­stored con­di­tion and strong per­for­mance, Shan­nons ex­pect the 356B Cabri­o­let to sell in the $190,000-$220,000 range.

Just as ea­gerly sought af­ter by col­lec­tors in the July 11 auc­tion will be a su­perb 11win­dow circa 1959 VW “Split­tie” Kombi fea­tur­ing a 1600cc twin port en­gine with elec­tronic ig­ni­tion. It is ex­pected to sell some­where in the $85,000-$110,000 range.

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