Benz GLC leads pack
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.