2018’s most popular cars in Europe by market segment


The car industry expands into new segments frequently, with new bodystyles popping up all over the place. 

What’s the best-selling in each one, though? We’ve got the latest data from market analyst JATO Dynamics to bring you the best-selling cars in Europe (EU countries), sorted by bodystyle.

The best-selling cars in Europe: by segment

City car: Fiat 500 – 71,416 sales

There’s no denying the 500’s charms, even if it’s not the best car to drive. European customers agree – it’s the best-selling city car on the Continent, followed by the Fiat Panda and Volkswagen Up. 

Supermini: Renault Clio – 113,953 sales

The Renault Clio is one of the best-selling cars in Europe, the top-selling car in France, Portugal and Slovenia and the top-selling supermini overall. It tops the Ford Fiesta in second and the Volkswagen Polo in third. 

Family hatchback: Volkswagen Golf – 172,952 sales

Surprise, surprise: the Volkswagen Golf – best-selling car in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Latvia and Luxembourg, second-best-seller in Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland and the UK and third-best-seller in Denmark, Ireland and Sweden, is Europe’s favourite family hatchback. The second-placed Skoda Octavia and third-placed Ford Focus didn’t stand a chance. 

Mid-size saloon/estate: Volkswagen Passat – 59,324 sales

Volkswagen’s hold on Europe continues with the Passat, which is officially the best-selling D-segment car in Europe. The Audi A4 is in third, while the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is in second, helping Mercedes come close to three-segment domination in the sales rankings.

Executive: Mercedes-Benz E-Class – 44,197 sales

The E-Class has helped Mercedes to become the largest premium car maker in the world, overtaking the BMW Group for world domination. The BMW 5 Series takes second and the Audi A6 third. 

Luxury: Mercedes-Benz S-Class – 5459 sales

Few surprises here, too – the S-Class is where Mercedes-Benz feels most at home. There’s a (relatively) new challenger in town, though: the Porsche Panamera has overtaken the BMW 7 Series to take silver. 

JATO Dynamics says: “No big changes in the traditional segments. However, the premium cars continue to gain share in the upper segments, with two premium cars in the top three in the mid-size segment. The new Panamera continues to attract more clients than the latest 7 Series, while the S-Class seems to be untouchable.”

Small SUV: Renault Captur – 73,828 sales

This is the soon-to-be big league: the fastest-growing segment in the industry. And Renault claims another win, here with the Captur. Even today, five years after its launch, it beats the Peugeot 2008 and Dacia Duster for top spot.

Mid-size SUV: Nissan Qashqai – 92,727 sales

A sort-of home hero takes the C-segment SUV market in Europe: the Sunderland-built Nissan Qashqai, followed by the Volkswagen Tiguan and Peugeot 3008. The Qashqai is only the UK’s third best-seller, yet the UK accounts for more than a quarter of European Qashqai sales.

Large SUV: Peugeot 5008 – 28,380 sales

Peugeot’s segment-leading 5008 is a new entry, as is the second-best-seller, the Skoda Kodiaq. Both lead the Nissan X-Trail. None of the three is in the UK’s top ten best-sellers. 

JATO Dynamics says: “The SUV segment continues to be the main driver of growth in the industry. Peugeot shines in the mainstream segment, placing each of its SUVs in the top three of their respective segments. The Qashqai continues to lead, despite its age and the strong competition. Due to the new arrivals, the X-Trail lost its top position as the main seven-seater option.”

Small premium SUV: BMW X1 – 40,239 sales

Another rapidly growing SUV segment, this, with the upcoming Lexus UX, Mercedes-Benz GLB and second-generation Range Rover Evoque and recently introduced BMW X2, Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40. But it’s a relative old-timer, the two-year-old BMW X1, that triumphs, with 40,000 sales. Stalwarts continue to excel in this class, with the soon-to-be-replaced Mercedes-Benz GLA in second and the not-long-for-this-world Audi Q3 in third.

Mid-size premium SUV: Mercedes-Benz GLC – 42,815 sales

Two bodystyles help the Mercedes-Benz GLC (and GLC Coupé) top the mid-size premium SUV segment, followed by the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5. It’s another segment that’s grown considerably in the last few months, with new entries from multiple premium brands and more on the way. 

Large premium SUV: Volvo XC90 – 11,565 sales

The seriously posh end of the SUV market is presided over by the Volvo XC90, which usurps the segment-founding BMW X5 and hugely successful Range Rover Sport for first place. It’s a fairly quiet segment compared with the other SUV realms, with the XC90 finding about a quarter as many homes as the GLC. 

JATO Dynamics says: “As the GLA and Q3 near replacement, the more recent X1 leads the compact SUV segment. The mid-size premium SUV market is no longer dominated by the Volvo XC60, despite the recent launch of a new generation.” 

Small MPV: Fiat 500L – 22,011 sales

The Fiat 500L is more warmly received on the Continent than in the UK, as shown by its best-seller status in the small MPV segment. The Honda Jazz and Dacia Lodgy (which isn’t available in the UK) take second and third respectively. Most MPVs are declining in sales numbers, though, as people turn to more fashionable, image-focused SUVs.

Mid-size MPV: Volkswagen Touran – 36,295 sales

Another win for Volkswagen with the Touran – the mid-sized MPV was Europe’s best-seller so far this year. The Renault Scénic and Citroën C4 Spacetourer follow it. No MPV made it onto the UK’s top ten best-sellers list. 

Large MPV: Mercedes-Benz V-Class and Seat Alhambra – 9540 sales each

It’s a tie for first place in Europe’s large MPV market, with the Mercedes-Benz V-Class and Seat Alhambra on 9540 sales apiece. V-Class sales are down 5% year-on-year over 2017, while the Alhambra is down only 2%, so it likely won’t be a tie for long. The Ford S-Max completes the podium. 

JATO Dynamics says: “The Scénic is one of the few MPVs of any size to post positive change. As the segment demand plunges, it’s significant to see a double-digit growth posted by the French MPV, which incorporates many SUV styling features.”

Small sports car: Mazda MX-5 – 5287 sales

There could only be one, couldn’t there? The Mazda MX-5 clinches the win in Europe with 5287 sales, although a 10% decrease year-on-year doesn’t bode well for the segment. Its cousin, the Fiat 124 Spider, follows, while the Lotus Elise comes in third, showing just how small the segment has become. 

Mid-size sports car: Audi TT – 5520 sales

The Audi TT continues to reign over the mid-size sports car segment, beating the Porsche 718 models. The Ford Mustang takes third, following Ford’s savvy decision to finally bring it to Europe. 

Large sports car: Porsche 911 – 7801 sales

MX-5, TT, 911 – it’s a class dominated by icons, and the Porsche 911 is the best-selling of them all. With 50% more sales than the MX-5 and TT, the 911 is Europe’s best-selling sports car of any size, let alone in its market segment. The Mercedes-AMG GT and Ferrari 488 follow in second and third.

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