The car halo has long been a means for automakers to coerce potential buyers into showrooms. Building something with more power and eye-catching style gets attention, but apart from simply increasing sales, these cars enhance the brand image by featuring state-of-the-art technology with modern design and impressive performance.
Sometimes, the halo car is a one-off model, while others are part of a dedicated performance division. This is the case with many well-known German automakers such as Audi (RS), BMW (M), and Mercedes-Benz (AMG). Other premium brands also feature dedicated performance divisions, such as Alfa Romeo (Quadrifoglio), Lexus (F) and Jaguar (SVR). In most cases, the models sold in this performance division are derivatives of the standard higher-volume models, although equipped with more powerful engines and attractive styling.
Which Performance Division is the Best in Sales?
Data collected by JATO Dynamics for certain European markets focuses on BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Alfa Romeo. This means that the Audi RS lineup will be the most popular of 2021, and lead through to the first quarter of this year. Sales of all RS-branded models, be it the small RS3 or the large RSQ8, will total about 17,600 units in 2021 and nearly 7,000 units in the first three months of 2022. This equates to approximately 3.0 percent and 4.7 percent of the brand’s total volume, respectively. -each .
Audi has positioned its performance lineup right through an excellent marketing campaign, and offers a wide range of vehicles for customers to choose from. However, key models like the RSQ5 are missing from Audi’s portfolio.
On the sales side, the RS range is followed by Mercedes-AMG with around 6,300 units sold in the first quarter of 2022, down 34 percent over the same period last year. Like Audi, Mercedes-Benz offers a wide range of AMG models, with AMG sales accounting for 4.1 percent of the brand’s total volume over the same period (versus 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021).
As for the BMW M, during the first three months of the year, the Munich brand recorded around 3,600 sales for all full-fat models with the M badge. Volume has increased by 18 percent from 2021 thanks in large part to the latest generation M3 and M4, both characterized by large grilles. Unlike Audi and Mercedes-Benz, the BMW M lineup represents only 2.3 percent of the brand’s total sales.
Quadrifoglio Captures Higher Percentage of Alpha Sales
Finally, it’s interesting to see how important the Quadrifoglio’s performance range is to Alfa Romeo. It is true that, in terms of overall sales volume, Alfa Romeo only accounted for 2.3 percent to 4.7 percent of registrations in Europe for Q1 2022. However, the Quadrifoglio versions of the Giulia and Stelvio represented 5.8 percent of Alfa Romeo’s total sales for that period. , up from 5.3 percent in 2021.
Why does Alfa Romeo see a larger percentage of performance buyers compared to its German competitors? Part of the explanation is due to the limited number of traditional vehicles in Alfa’s lineup. However, it is also clear that the more attractive Alfa Romeo models are very popular with Alfa buyers, and are attracting more attention in terms of media exposure and outstanding performance.
The article’s author, Felipe Munoz, is a JATO dynamics Automotive Industry Specialist.