The Western European new car market in August increased 3.59% to 833,371 units compared to the same month last year. YTD sales were 10,076,755, up 2.12% on 2003, according to data from independent analyst Jato Dynamics .


The recently redesigned VW Golf again headed the sales tables (up 11.1% to 36,338 units in August, and up 6.0% to 368,940 units YTD), ahead of the perennial Peugeot 206, now in its seventh model year. The Opel/Vauxhall Astra, also redesigned recently, was third in August (up 34.2%), followed by the Peugeot 307 and Renault Mégane.


Mini/midi MPV (minivan) sales continued to soar with sales up 8.91% in August and up 30.05% YTD. The Renault Scénic led the segment, up 35.9% YTD.  Sports cars are also still doing well with August sales up 32.13% and YTD sales up 27.09%. Mercedes-Benz holds the top two spots in Western Europe with the CLK and SLK.


After a slight fall in July, the SUV segment rose again, with August registrations up 7.66% and YTD registrations up 13.92%. The Toyota RAV4 leads, ahead of the Suzuki Vitara/Grand Vitara range, up 25.8% YTD.


The mini segment was up 5.03% in August and up 2.62% YTD. The Fiat Panda (up 92.3% for the month and up 110.5% YTD) leds the segment ahead of the Smart Fortwo and Renault Twingo.


The supermini segment remained fairly steady, down 0.59% in August but up 0.67% YTD. The 206 leds the segment ahead of the VW Polo, Renault Clio, Opel/Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Fiesta.


The lower-medium sector was up 8.76% in August compared to 2003, but down 1.07% YTD.  The Golf (up 11.1% in August and up 6.0% YTD) led the segment ahead of the Astra (up 34.2% in August as a result of the new model introduction), 307 (up 3.2% YTD), Mégane (up 33.7% in August and up 18.8% YTD) and Ford Focus.


Premium lower-medium sales were up 6.43% in August and up 1.75% YTD. The Audi A3 (up 4.5% in August and up 23.8% YTD) maintained its lead of the segment from the Alfa Romeo 147 and Volkswagen Bora (Jetta ).


The upper-medium segment is showing signs of recovery with registrations up 5.44% in August, but YTD was down 5.53% on the same period in 2003. The VW Passat still led the segment but the just-launched new Peugeot 407 (replacing the 406) leapt from fourth to second place in August with registrations more than twice those achieved by its predecessor a year ago.


Premium upper-medium sales were up 0.36% in August, but down 7.81% YTD. The battle to lead this segment was very close in August, with less than 300 units between the top three – which took consecutive places (10th, 11th, 12th) in the full-market sales charts. The Mercedes-Benz C-class (up 19.0% in August) led the segment, ahead of the BMW 3-series and Audi A4. YTD, the BMW led the Audi and Mercedes.


Executive car sales were up 4.32% in August, but down 0.46% YTD. The Mercedes-Benz E-class led the segment from the Audi A6 (up 61.0% in August and up 2.8% YTD, following the introduction of the redesigned model line) and BMW 5-series (up 48.6% YTD).


The high-luxury segment fell slightly in August (down 0.16%), but YTD registrations show a more considerable decline (down 14.58%).  The Mercedes-Benz S-class (up 5.5% in August) led the segment from the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, Jaguar XJ and Volkswagen Phaeton.


The full-size MPV (minivan) segment continued its decline, with August sales down 18.73% and YTD sales down 6.29%. The Volkswagen Sharan led the segment last month ahead of the YTD leader, the Renault Espace (up 15.9% YTD).


Segment highlights in August included:


Mini: Hyundai Atos up 190.6% year on year, Suzuki Alto up 35.3% YTD


Supermini: Peugeot Partner/Ranch up 18.1%, Opel/Vauxhall Meriva up 183% YTD


Lower-medium: Volkswagen New Beetle (excluding cabrio) up 27.0%


Premium lower-medium: Hyundai Elantra up 83.0%, Daewoo Nubira up 87.0% YTD


Upper-medium: Opel/Vauxhall Vectra up 41.5%


Premium upper-medium: Honda Accord up 32.6%


Executive: Jaguar S-Type up 48.6%


High-luxury: Lexus LS430 up 63.4% YTD


Mini/midi-MPV: Toyota Corolla Verso up 58.2%


MPV: Renault Espace up 15.9% YTD


SUV: BMW X5 up 13.3%, Volvo XC90 up 167%


Sports: Porsche 911 (just redesigned) up 60.4%