Photo Report: The Australian Outback in a Skoda Octavia (1/2)

April 18th, 2014 4 comments

Skoda Octavia Road Train Nyngan April 2014Road Train vs. Skoda Octavia… Who wins?

I have been mentioning the new generation Skoda Octavia on BestSellingCarsBlog a lot in the past 6 months as it progressively climbed the European rankings to reach an all-time high 5th place in October and November 2013, ranking inside the Top 10 for 5 consecutive months between October 2013 and February 2014, whereas this had happened only twice before in the nameplate’s 16 year career. So far, 3.7 million Octavias have found a buyer since 1996.

Toyota Hilux Bourke April 2014The Toyota Hilux is likely to be the best-selling model in the Australian Outback

Is this dramatic step-change in sales justified? What does it feel like to drive the car? I was lucky enough to be lent an Octavia by Skoda for a few days and thought it would be a good opportunity to evaluate how it withstands the harsh Australian terrain and how it is perceived in this country. I took it for a 1,600 km road trip from Sydney to the small town of Bourke in the Australian Outback, this way also reporting to you on the car landscape in a very unique region in Australia with the help of my photographer mate David.

Skoda Octavia Sydney Opera House April 2014Starting point: Sydney with its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge

Skoda has a relatively short current history in Australia: it relaunched here in 2007 after being present from the 50s to the 70s. Skoda sales were up 3% in 2013 to 3,555 units at #25 – below Fiat and Peugeot and above Chrysler and Mini – and are down 11% so far in 2014 to 726 sales. Back in October 2012 at the Sydney Motor Show I had a long chat with Skoda Director at the time Matthew Wiesner who told me “Skoda’s role in the Volkswagen Group in Australia is to create a very strong presence amongst the Japanese and Korean brands. We aim to be somewhere between 1 and 2% of the market by 2019.” In 2013 Skoda’s best-seller in Australia was, wait for it, the Octavia at #132 overall and 37% of Skoda sales here.

VW Amarok Bathurst April 2014VW Amarok hiding behind its roo bar.

So it’s with Skoda’s best-seller worldwide and in Australia that we will explore the car landscape in Outback Australia, and it changes drastically as soon as you leave the outskirts of Sydney to cross the Blue Mountains and land in sheep shearing and cotton country in Bathurst, Dubbo and finally Bourke. Sturdier vehicles are required and the constant danger of having your car wrecked by kangaroos crossing the road at night means most 4WD are equipped with huge roo bars – the Australian equivalent to bull bars – I even spotted a Toyota Camry with one!

Holden Commodore BourkeNew generation Holden Commodore in Bourke.

Toyota Camry Australia April 2014Toyota Camry between Dubbo and Bourke

The agricultural activity in the region pushes the market share of utes (Australian slang for pick-up trucks) way up. The Toyota Corolla and Mazda3, national and New South Wales leaders, are very scarce. Instead, the preferred passenger car options remain large cars like the all-new Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry and Kia Optima (a surprise to me as it only ranked #116 nationally in 2013), indicating that this region of Australia has kept the purchase pattern that characterised Australian sales 6 to 8 years ago.

Toyota Land Cruiser ute NarromineToyota Land Cruiser ute in Narromine.

In fact, the car landscape is closer to what Queensland or Northern Territory 2013 sales charts would indicate, which makes sense as the area I drove to is culturally closer to these two States. The Toyota Hilux should be the best-seller in the area by far, but the Mitsubishi Triton strikingly outperforms its national level here as well, as does the Toyota Land Cruiser 70 ute which has become iconic in the region as well as in mining Western Australia. I will venture an estimated Top 5 best-sellers in Outback New South Wales: 1. Toyota Hilux 2. Holden Commodore 3. Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up 4. Mitsubishi Triton 5. Toyota RAV4.

Mitsubishi Triton Nyngan April 2014Mitsubishi Triton in Nyngan

All utes are over-represented, especially the VW Amarok which has now infiltrated even the most remote stations both in its highest double cab 4WD spec and its lower plastic bumper 2WD spec, and the Great Wall V-Series (aka Steed), equally frequent throughout the trip. I also spotted two Mahindra Scorpio and one Tata Xenon. When I told you Australian farmers loved their utes, any utes, that’s what I meant.

Nissan Navara Bourke April 2014Nissan Navara in Bourke

Next we review what’s good and what’s not with the Skoda Octavia, and interview two Outback Australians about their latest car purchase: a Holden Commodore ute and a Great Wall SUV… Stay tune for Part 2 of this Photo Report!

Mazda BT-50 Bourke April 2014Mazda BT-50 in Bourke

Skoda Octavia Ford Ranger BathurstSkoda Octavia with two generations Ford Ranger in Bathurst

Categories: Australia

Europe March 2014: Fiat 500 inside Top 10 for the first time

April 18th, 2014 11 comments

Fiat 500 Europe March 2014. Picture courtesy of 500

* See the Top 10 best-selling models and Top 30 brands by clicking on the title! *

The good news keep pouring in (at last!) for the European new car market: up 10% year-on-year in March to deliver a 7th consecutive month of year-on-year growth at 1,489,796 units. The First Quarter is up 8% on 2013 to 3,353,180 sales. Traditionally March sales are biased by strong seasonal UK sales at 31% of overall European sales vs. 18% over FY2013. As a result, the Ford Fiesta is a comfortable #2 at 44,491 sales, passing the VW Polo and Renault Clio year-to-date to also rank #2, the Vauxhall/Opel Corsa is up to #3 at 33,563 units, the Ford Focus up to #5 and 30,743 sales and the Vauxhall/Opel Astra up to #9 and 24,016 units – 8% higher than its March 2013 score.

VW Golf Europe March 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frVW Golf sales are up 14% year-on-year in March.

Not satisfied with being once again and by far the best-selling model on the continent, the VW Golf also delivers the 2nd best year-on-year improvement in the Top 10 at +14% to 56,042 sales and +15% year-to-date at 129,559 units. The biggest gainer is the Fiat 500, boosted by strong results in the UK (monthly volume record), Germany, France and Italy and up 19% year-on-year to #10 with an all-time high 21,990 sales. This is the first time the Fiat Nuova 500 breaks into the European Top 10, an astounding 7 years after being first introduced to the public! Such a late blooming is extremely rare in nowadays car industry and is a testament to the consistently positive word-of-mouth the model has benefitted from throughout its career so far.

Nissan Qashqai Europe March 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe new Qashqai and Note push Nissan up to #10 this month.

Brand-wise, unsurprisingly Volkswagen keeps the lead with 164,724 sales and 11.1% while Ford at #2 (+13%) and Vauxhall/Opel at #3 (+15%) outperform the market and reclaim the same ranks year-to-date. Renault is up a beautiful 23% to 95,987 sales but drops to #4 year-to-date like in 2013 while Peugeot is up 13% in 5th place. Notice also Nissan up 15% to #10 vs. #13 year-to-date, Skoda is up 20% to #12, Dacia up a huge 51% to #16 (+41% year-to-date), Mazda up 26% to #19 and Suzuki up 21% to #21.

Previous post: Europe 2 months 2013: Audi A3 and Renault Captur blitz up

Check also: Europe February 2014: Discover the Top 343 All-models!

Previous month (models): Europe February 2014: Skoda Octavia up 39%, Fiat Panda in Top 10

Previous month (brands): Europe February 2014: Renault and Peugeot on podium

One year ago: Europe March 2013: Nissan Qashqai and BMW 3 Series strike again

Full March 2014 Top 10 models and Top 30 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Europe

Cyprus March 2014: Range Rover remains in Top 10

April 18th, 2014 No comments

Range Rover Cyprus March 2014The Range Rover is at a very impressive #9 in Cyprus so far in 2014…

* See the Top 30 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Thanks to data provided by SEMO Cyprus and Analysis by INNOSOFT, I can share with you today a detailed models ranking for Cyprus over the First Quarter 2014. March registrations in the country are up a huge 79% year-on-year to 725 units, single-handedly bringing the year-to-date total into positive after 3 months at 2,099 sales, up 12% on 2013. The Toyota Yaris remains the best-seller in the country with 120 sales and 5.7% share ahead of the Ford Fiesta at 85 units and 4% while the Kia Rio jumps onto the podium with 81 sales and 3.9%. The Honda CR-V is down to a still outstanding 4th place (vs. #14 in FY13) ex-aequo with the Nissan Micra (vs. #13), the Toyota Corolla is up to #8 whereas the Range Rover brilliantly maintains itself inside the Top 10 at #9 with 67 sales and 3.2% share – only 5 units away from the 4th place! Notice also the Volvo XC60 landing at #12.

Previous month: Cyprus February 2014: Toyota Yaris new leader

Previous year: Cyprus Full Year 2013: Ford Fiesta keeps lead in market down 32%

Full First Quarter 2014 Top 30 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Cyprus

Algeria First Quarter 2014: Hyundai Accent #1, market down 30%

April 16th, 2014 7 comments

Hyundai Accent Algeria March 2014Hyundai Accent is the best-selling model in Algeria.

* See the Top 10 best-selling models and brands by clicking on the title! *

The Algerian new car market is definitely going through a tough time in 2014: down 30% year-on-year over the First Quarter to just 85,000 registrations, and this evolution has wreaked havoc in both brands and models sales charts in the country. Edged out by Peugeot last year, Renault is back in pole position in spite of sales down 18% to 13,884 units. It is now followed by Hyundai, up an impressive 11% to 11,574 sales and going from 8.8% share a year ago to 13.6% now. Peugeot is down a harsh 66% to #3, Toyota down 15% to #4, Dacia down 52% to #5, Kia up 46% to #7 and Nissan up 26% to #9.

Toyota Hilux Algeria March 2014The Toyota Hilux is up to #2 in Algeria so far in 2014.

Model-wise, it’s a complete reshuffle at the top: the Hyundai Accent jumps from 9th over the Full Year 2013 directly into pole position, and by far, with 8,201 sales and 9.6% share, even though a large part of its sales are achieved by the model from two generations ago, still on the catalogue. Up from #7 in 2013, the Toyota Hilux ranks 2nd at 4,577 units, the Dacia Logan is down from #1 last year to #3 with 4,179 units. The Renault Symbol is up one spot to #4, the Kia Picanto up 5 to #5, Toyota Yaris up 8 to #7 and the Peugeot 301 down 8 to #10.

Previous post: Algeria Full Year 2013: Now with the Top 200 All-models ranking!

Check also: Algeria Full Year 2013: Dacia Logan #1 for first time, Peugeot 301 at world-best #2

One year ago: Algeria February 2013: Renault Clio IV and Peugeot 301 impress

Full First Quarter 2014 Top 10 and March Top 5 brands and models Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Algeria

Canada March 2014: Hyundai Santa Fe in Top 10 for first time

April 16th, 2014 1 comment

Hyundai Santa Fe Canada March 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comHyundai Santa Fe

* NOW UPDATED with Top 248 All-models and Top 32 brands! *

New car sales in Canada are up a tiny 0.3% year-on-year in March to 157,228 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 358,857 units, up 0.9% on 2013. Ford keeps the lead of the brands ranking by far in spite of an 11% decline to 21,895 sales, followed by Toyota up 6% to 15,509 units. Chevrolet jumps onto the podium at #3 thanks to sales up 12% to 13,715. Other great performers include Nissan up 26%, Jeep up 41%, Lexus up 30% and Buick up 35%. Model-wise, the Top 4 best-seller are identical to the Full Year 2013 ranking this month: the Ford F-Series (-14%) leads ahead of the Ram Pick-up (+2%), Honda Civic (+0.2%) and Hyundai Elantra (-10%).

Jeep Grand Cherokee Canada March 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comJeep Grand Cherokee. Jeep sales are up 41% in Canada this month.

Boosted by the new generation, the Toyota Corolla is up a fantastic 37% year-on-year to stop just 40 units short off the Elantra in 5th place. But the biggest gainer in the Top 10 is the Hyundai Santa Fe up 69% to land in 9th place, to my knowledge the nameplate’s first ever incursion inside the Canadian Top 10. Notice also the Nissan Rogue up 57% to #15, Chevrolet Equinox up 65% to #16, Nissan Versa up 108% to #25, the Jeep Cherokee down 11 spots on February to #29 and the Dodge Dart down a harsh 61% on March 2013.

Previous month: Canada February 2014: Dodge Grand Caravan on podium for first time in 18 months

One year ago: Canada March 2013: Dodge Ram at highest in over 3 years

Full March 2014 Top 248 All-models and Top 32 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Canada

Indonesia March 2014: Honda Mobilio second car in history above 10,000 monthly sales!

April 16th, 2014 No comments

Honda Mobilio Indonesia March 2014. Picture courtesy of merdeka.comThe Honda Mobilio is a smashing success in Indonesia.

* See the Top 20 best-selling models and Top 4 brands by clicking on the title! *

A 5th consecutive all-time record year is now well within the realm of possibles in Indonesia, with March sales up another 18% year-on-year to 113,079 registrations, which brings the First Quarter total to 328,469 units, up 11% on 2013. We are now looking at a Full Year 2014 around 1.36 million units at this rate. History is being written this month in the Indonesian models ranking: the Toyota Avanza finally has found its match in the Honda Mobilio, gone from 1,508 sales in January to 6,241 in February and a huge 10,592 in March (+70%) for a 9.4% market share, and thus becoming only the second model in the history of automobile in Indonesia to manage to sell over 10,000 units in a single month! Only the Toyota Avanza had achieved this before.

Toyota Avanza Indonesia March 2014. Picture courtesy of the Toyota Avanza lose its Indonesian pole position this year?

If this month the Toyota Avanza drops over 3 percentage points vs. its Full Year 2013 result at 14.4% vs. 17.5%, also hit hard by the smashing success of the Mobilio are the Daihatsu Xenia down to #8 and 3.2% share vs. #2 and 5.3% over the Full Year 2013 and the Suzuki Ertiga down to #9 and 3.1% vs. #4 and 5.2% in 2013. The Mobilio also single-handedly pushes Honda from #5 brand in February to #2 this month at 14,529 units and 12.8% (vs. 10.7% last month), passing Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Daihatsu while Toyota remains by far in pole position with 38,961 sales and 34.5%.

Honda Mobilio Indonesia March 2014. Picture courtesy of gaadi.comHonda Mobilio

The Toyota Agya is down one spot to a still splendid third position thanks to 6,648 units and 5.9% share (6.3% year-to-date), while the Toyota Kijang Innova is back up one rank to #4 both this month and year-to-date. Below the Suzuki Carry Pick-up, we have an excellent hold for the Daihatsu Ayla at #6 and the Suzuki Karimun Wagon R remains at #14.

Previous month: Indonesia February 2014: Honda Mobilio #3, now a serious threat to Avanza!

One year ago: Indonesia March 2013: Daihatsu Xenia back with a vengeance

Full March 2014 Top 20 models and Top 4 brands Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Indonesia

China First Quarter 2014: VW Santana, Haval H6 & ChangAn Honor biggest gainers in Top 30

April 16th, 2014 5 comments

Haval H6 Sport China March 2014. Picture courtesy of H6 Sport

* See the Top 67 All-brands and Top 334 All-models by clicking on the title! *

As is the tradition on BSCB, after looking into March data in detail we now go on to study the year-to-date rankings to extract some longer-term trends. The Chinese Passenger Car market is up 12% year-on-year over the First Quarter to 5.46 million units. Brand-wise, Volkswagen kills the competition once again with 766,270 sales ahead of Hyundai at 284,222 while Buick is up two spots to #3 (238,094) and Toyota down two to #5 (209,836). Wuling is up from #12 to #4, ChangAn up from #11 to #7, Dongfeng up from #16 to #13 but Chery is down from #13 to #14 and BYD down from #10 to #15.

Wuling Hongguang China March 2014The Wuling Hongguang alone sold more units than Toyota.

The Wuling Hongguang continues to largely dominate the models sales charts: up 30% to 210,109 sales in just 3 months, a new record for a Passenger Car and more than what the entire Toyota range sold in the same period! At this rate the Hongguang will sell at astounding 850,000 units over the Full Year. The VW Lavida is also gaining ground thanks to the addition of the Gran Lavida variant at +24% to 150,801 units. Still third, the Ford Focus is up just 4% to break the 100,000 quarterly sales barrier for the first time at 100,503.

Citroen C4L China March 2014. Picture courtesy of bitauto.comCitroen C4L sales are up 88% so far in 2014.

The biggest gainers inside the Top 30 are the VW Santana up a massive 137% and 26 spots to land in 4th position with 79,840 sales thanks to the new model, the unflagging Haval H6 up 56% to #11 potentially also due to the addition of the very different-looking Sport variant pictured above, and the ChangAn Honor up 125% and 42 ranks to #20. ChangAn is having a great time at home this year with the Eado also up 73% to #31 and the CS35 up 78% to #46. Notice also the VW Golf up a cool 53% and 20 spots to #22 thanks to the 7th generation now available across the country, the Ford Kuga up 207% to #33, the Citroen C-Elysée up 72% to #45, BMW 3 Series L up 90% to #61 and Citroen C4L up 88% to #81.

Toyota Vios China March 2014. Picture courtesy of Vios

There are no less than 50 all-new models in the Chinese ranking, led by the Honda Crider at #27 with 37,481 sales. The Toyota Vios, virtually all-new given how low its previous generation sales were, appears at #35 with 31,580 units, ahead of the Hyundai Mistra at #38 (30,104 sales), the Ford Mondeo at #51, Chery E3 at #60, Dongfeng Fengguang at #68, FAW Besturn X80 at #70, Toyota Yaris L at #75 and Audi Q3 at #76.

Previous post: China March 2014: VW Jetta and ChangAn Honor hit records, Fiat Ottimo sparks

Previous month: China 2 months 2014: Buick Excelle XT/GT above Excelle

One year ago: China 3 months 2013: VW Sagitar and Nissan Sylphy impress

Full First Quarter 2014 Top 67 All-brands and Top 334 All-models Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: China

Pakistan March 2014: Honda City and Sigma Defender shine

April 16th, 2014 No comments

Sigma Defender Pakistan March 2014Sigma Defender

* See the Top 13 All-local models ranking by clicking on the title! *

Thanks to the Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association, we have access to monthly sales of locally produced models in Pakistan, which is a pretty accurate representation of the most popular new cars in the country as imports are still relatively limited. Sales of locally produced vehicles are down 8% year-on-year in March to 12,269 registrations, bringing the First Quarter total to 38,968 units, up just 0.5% on 2013. Below the Toyota Corolla far ahead at 27.7% share, the Suzuki Mehran drops 26% to just 18% share and the Honda City brilliantly rounds up the podium thanks to 1,231 sales and a round 10% share, up 20% on March 2013. Notice also the Suzuki Ravi up 4% to #5, the Toyota Hilux up 33% to #8 and the Land Rover Defender, sold by local car company Sigma Motors, up 186% to 103 sales, its first month above 100 units since Defender sales started being recorded over 18 months ago.

Previous month: Pakistan February 2014: Honda City stands out

One year ago: Pakistan March 2013: New Honda Civic up to #5

Full March 2014 Top 13 All-local models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Pakistan

Media Post: 5 Ways to get your bad credit car loan application approved

April 16th, 2014 No comments


Financial hurdles beset many people, and reputable lenders know this. Lenders understand that people recover from bad credit, and they are prepared to lend money to those in this position. Unfortunately, though, many such applicants make key errors in their applications, which results in those applications being rejected. Here are five ways to boost your chances of approval.

1. Full and Complete Disclosure

Be completely honest in your application. Many applicants attempt to improve the perception of their true financial position by making untrue claims in their application, or by leaving out key items that they believe make them look bad. Kyle Rhys from why this is a bad strategy: “Lenders need to trust you,” he says. “Trust is absolutely vital to approving any loan application. So, no matter how bad you think your true position is, or how poor your history might look, tell the absolute truth. However poor you believe your history to be, the lender has seen worse.” Mt Rhys says getting an independent professional’s assistance can make all the difference to presenting an application that a reputable financier will understand and approve.

2. Fix your Credit file

It’s essential to review and repair your credit file. Mistakes are often made in individuals’ credit files, and these can reflect poorly on applications. If yours has errors in it, you can easily contact the organizations that have made the entries in your file, and discuss the matters direct with them. For more information on accessing your credit file, search on Google for a free credit reporting website.

3. Demonstrate solid employment

Lenders invariably look for a stable employment history – because stable employment demonstrates stable income, which is necessary to service any debt. Kyle Rhys says lenders prefer to see longer periods with fewer employers. “If you can demonstrate you can hold down your job for significant periods, rather than jump often from job to job, with gaps of unemployment between, that will go a long way to getting your application approved.”

4. Save

Additional debt, in the form of a car loan, will require spare income capacity to service. If your bank records show that you can save regularly – even if it’s only a small amount each week, this will be evidence that you have that income capacity required to service the new debt.

5. Manage Debt responsibly

Pay attention to your existing debt and loan obligations. Ensure repayments are made on time, and in the case of credit cards, make sure the amounts repaid are greater than the minimum monthly payment required.

Categories: Australia

Media Post: 5 things to keep in mind when hiring a car

April 16th, 2014 1 comment

car-hire-companies. Picture courtesy of

Whether you’re going overseas or you’ve been in an accident and need a replacement car, odds are you’ll need to go to a rental car company. Many people have no idea of all the hidden fees that some companies add to their prices. It’s easy to feel over your head, but with these simple tips hiring a car can be a simple exercise.

Do your homework

Before you even leave your house to go to the car yard, do your homework thoroughly. Every bit of information you gather before you make a decision will come in handy. There are a number of different services that offer rentals, so compare prices online to make sure you are getting the best deal. This can be done with a simple Google search. Just type in the name of the place you’d like to visit and you’re bound to get hits.

Smaller is better

When renting cars, smaller is always better. Depending on how many you plan to be transporting, and if you don’t mind not having a bigger car, smaller rental cars can make things much cheaper for you. This is especially true regarding petrol, as smaller cars are much more economical than sedans. Most of the time if the rental agency is out of small cars, they will upgrade you to a larger one for no additional cost.

Avoid airports

As a general rule, avoid renting a car from an airport. Usually airport prices for rented cars are hugely inflated compared to elsewhere. The best practice to adopt is catching a taxi to the closest rental company, where finding a better price is a sure thing. You can get away with not even hiring a car if you have a hotel close to the airport. Sometimes there will be a free shuttle that will take you there. From the hotel, you can ask a rental company to deliver a car if they offer that service.

Think about safety

Whether you’re buying or renting, the first concern you should consider is car safety. It may take some additional time, but researching which cars are the safest will provide you with the peace of mind you need, as well as the comfort of safety. There are many online resources to assist you in deciding the most secure way to spend your travels.

Say no to extra insurance

Try to opt out of paying for extra rental insurance that is offered by agencies. This is especially important if you already have auto insurance, or a credit card providing insurance. If you are already covered, getting additional insurance will be superfluous and just lead to you paying twice. No matter how much a rental agent tries to convince you, don’t give in! If you have a crash, make sure you know what your insurance will cover and know the laws of the country you’re in. If you’re in Australia, Motor Accident Legal Service at can provide you with legal assistance and represent you in court over car accidents.

Using these tips, car hiring should be a breeze!

Categories: Uncategorized