Data unearthed by CarAdvice reveals the best-selling high-performance micro, city and small cars in Australia in the first half of 2021.

Despite its relatively small size, Australia is well known for being one the world’s most diverse new-car markets, with close to 50 brands vying for a slice of the sales pie. We’re also one of the largest markets for performance cars.

Following the demise of home-grown V8-powered sedans last decade, hot hatchbacks have become one of the largest performance-car sales categories.

But which models are the best-selling in each market segment and price bracket? We’ve rounded up sales figures for the first half of 2021 for the hot hatches on sale in Australia (albeit with a few asterisks, which will be explored in a moment).


Micro

Just three vehicles make up the ‘micro’ car class on the Australian charts, yet two of them offer sporty variants: the ‘warm’ Kia Picanto (GT), and the Abarth-fettled Fiat 500 (badged 595, 595C or 695).

While it has been confirmed around 226 Kia Picanto GTs have been sold Down Under since January 1, a sales figure for the Abarth 595 range couldn’t be obtained – though a fair estimate would see around 100 examples sold since the start of the year.

Vehicle Sales (first half of 2021) Share of total model sales (first half of 2021)
Kia Picanto GT 226 (approximate) 6.0 per cent
Abarth 595/595C 100 (estimated) 38 per cent (estimated)

Light (all price brackets)

One of the cheapest tickets into true high-performance motoring, the ‘light’ hot hatch class has seen staple players from Volkswagen, Ford and Mini joined by newcomers from Toyota (and soon Hyundai, with the i20 N), and split by the departure of Renault’s Clio RS.

The Toyota GR Yaris is by far the best-seller in the segment, owing its 1149-unit sales tally to the back-end of an early batch of 1100 cars, sold at discounted prices versus the car’s $49,500 list price. The addition of the upgraded Rallye variant in April further aided sales.

A remarkable 1700 GR Yarii have been reported as sold in Australia since its local launch last November – accounting for roughly 40 per cent of total Yaris sales over the same period.

Second place in the ‘light’ segment are three- and five-door versions of the Mini Cooper S hatch, with 357 sales combined – accounting for 35.3 per cent of total Mini hatch sales.

Following close behind is the Volkswagen Polo GTI, with 335 units sold – a figure hampered by constraints in the availability of the car’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The 19 per cent sales share for the GTI in 2020 would have seen it tally up 490 sales year-to-date in 2021.

Ford’s manual-only Fiesta ST trails with 251 sales, ahead of the Mini John Cooper Works three-door hatch, with 113 sales.

A year-to-date sales figure for the Suzuki Swift Sport has been estimated by the company at 15 per cent, or about 400 of the 2600 Swift sales so far this year. Available as a manual or an auto, the Swift Sport has broad appeal and is the most affordable hot hatch in its class.

Vehicle Sales (first half of 2021) Share of total model sales (first half of 2021)
Toyota GR Yaris 1149 36.6 per cent
Suzuki Swift Sport 400 (approximate) 15 per cent (approximate)
Volkswagen Polo GTI 335 13 per cent (or 18 per cent in 2020, due to supply constraints)
Ford Fiesta ST 251 100 per cent
Mini Cooper S hatch 357 35.3 per cent
Mini John Cooper Works hatch 113 11.2 per cent

Small (non-premium)

The ‘original’ hot hatch segment, the non-luxury small car class – officially branded on industry sales charts as “Small under $40,000”, as the standard versions of these hot hatches slide under $40,000 – sees the segment-stalwart Volkswagen Golf GTI battle the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Type R and more.

However, the introduction of a new Golf GTI, and the run-out phases of the Hyundai i30 N, Honda Civic Type R (and soon the Subaru WRX) have made pinning down accurate sales numbers challenging – meaning 2020 figures have been used in select places in this story instead.

Despite being on sale in its current form since 2014 – and soon to be replaced, in early 2022 – a total of 820 Subaru WRX vehicles have been sold to far in 2020, 40 per cent of which were the range-topping, bewinged STI.

Around 500 Volkswagen Golf 8 models have been sold in total since its launch in late May – though the 10 per cent share of Mk7.5 Golf sales the front-wheel-drive GTI accounted for throughout 2020 provides a rough indicator of the number of new GTIs sold so far in Australia.

Just 187 Hyundai i30 Ns have been sold to date in 2021, accounting for 1.6 per cent of i30 hatch sales – however, the model has been in run-out through the first half of the year, ahead of the facelifted i30 N’s arrival later this month. The N typically accounts for around 3.5 per cent of i30 hatch sales – translating to 403 units, if applied in 2021.

Similarly, the Honda Civic Type R has been in run-out throughout much of 2021 – though in prior years, Type R models typically account for around 3.5 per cent of total Civic sales (which, while an inaccurate estimate, would equate to around 70 cars in 2021).

Despite being classified as a ‘medium car’ in VFACTS industry sales data, we’ve included the Skoda Octavia RS in this category for purposes of comparison. While skewed supply has seen 80 per cent of new Octavia models sold since its launch in April being RS models, Skoda Australia estimates that figure will revert to around 40 to 50 per cent across the model’s life cycle.

Unsurprisingly, compared to full-fat hot hatches, ‘warm’ hatches sell in far greater numbers. N Line and GT versions of the Hyundai i30 and Kia Cerato have attracted close to 6000 sales so far this year.

Vehicle Sales (first half of 2021) Share of total model sales (first half of 2021)
Subaru WRX 492 (approximate) 60 per cent (approximate)
Subaru WRX STI 328 (approximate) 40 per cent (approximate)
Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk8) Unknown (though around 1001 Mk7.5 GTI models sold throughout 2020) Unknown (10 per cent in 2020)
Skoda Octavia RS (latest generation) 275 estimated (due to skewed supply) 80 per cent (though expected to fall to 40-50 per cent across the model’s life)
Ford Focus ST 225 (approximate) “Nearly” 40 per cent
Hyundai i30 N (pre-facelift, in run-out) 187 1.6 per cent (3.4 per cent in 2020, prior to run-out)
Honda Civic Type R Unknown (70 estimated) Unclear (3.5 per cent in recent years, prior to run-out)
Renault Megane RS 59 100 per cent
Hyundai i30 Hatch N Line 2456 21 per cent of hatch sales (approx.)
Hyundai i30 Sedan N Line 879 54 per cent of sedan sales (approx.)
Kia Cerato GT hatch 1400 (approximate) 13 per cent
Kia Cerato GT sedan 970 (approximate) 9 per cent

Small (premium)

Sitting above the Golf GTI, i30 N and other models are a class of hot hatches wearing luxury European badges, pioneered by the original Audi S3 of the late 1990s, and more recently joined by AMG-badged Mercedes-Benz A-Classes and M-fettled BMW 1 Series models.

Sales numbers for BMW’s hot compact range are most clear-cut, with the 339 M135i xDrive hatch models sold year-to-date joined by around 238 M235i xDrive Gran Coupe vehicles and, despite only launching in Australia in March/April, around 344 examples of the front-wheel-drive 128ti.

Stocks of Audi’s A3 range (including S3 and RS3 performance derivatives) have declined throughout 2021, as the current model enters the run-out phase, and nears the end of its lifecycle – meaning sales percentages accurate to consumer demand are hard to pin down. Audi A3 sales are down 80.4 per cent year-to-date, in a market up 28.3 per cent (albeit from a COVID-affected base).

However, of the 1688 Audi A3s sold in the second half of 2020, 25 per cent were four-cylinder S3s, with a further 15 per cent being five-cylinder RS3 examples – translating to 422 and 253 sales respectively.

Mercedes-Benz Australia couldn’t provide an exact sales figure for AMG 35 and 45 S versions of its A-Class and CLA, though CarAdvice understands AMG variants account for over 25 per cent of sales of these models. How far over 25 per cent isn’t clear, however a 35 per cent-plus share would be required to take the sales lead from BMW.

Mini concludes the segment with 204 sales of its six-door Clubman wagon, comprising 108 Cooper S models, and 96 John Cooper Works variants.

Vehicle Sales (first half of 2021) Share of total model sales (first half of 2021)
BMW 128ti 344 22.6 per cent
BMW M135i xDrive 359 23.6 per cent
BMW M235i xDrive 238 20.1 per cent
Audi S3 Unclear (around 422 sales in second half of 2020) Unclear (25 per cent in second half of 2020)
Audi RS3 Unclear (around 253 sales in second half of 2020) Unclear (15 per cent in second half of 2020)
Mercedes-AMG A35, A45 S, CLA35 and CLA45 S More than 678 Over 25 per cent
Mini Cooper S Clubman 108 52.9 per cent
Mini John Cooper Works Clubman 96 47.1 per cent

Notes

Aside from the sales lists included throughout this story, a number of interesting statistics and comparisons emerged – we’ve collated these below.

  • The 1149 GR Yaris examples sold in 2021 see it outsell nameplates including the Lexus IS, Jeep Wrangler and SsangYong Musso, falling just short of the Renault Trafic and Range Rover Sport.
  • The Ford Fiesta ST’s 251 sales see it outsell the Focus ST, which recorded under 233 sales.
  • The Kia Cerato GT is the second best-selling Cerato variant, behind the entry-level S automatic, with a little over 50 per cent of sales.

Are you surprised by the results? Do you own one of these hot hatches? Let us know in the comments.

MORE: Everything hot hatches