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Volkswagen Golf the best seller in the C-segment and in overall European market in 2013
Ford Focus, runner-up in the C-segment in Europe in 2013

C-segment is a car size classification defined by the European Commission[1] as the third-smallest segment (above the A-segment and B-segment) in the European market. The C-segment corresponds approximately to the Compact Car segment in North America and the Small Family Car in British English terminology.

The C-segment includes only hatchback, sedan and Station Wagon configurations — as the European Commission reserves the M-segment for Multi-Purpose Cars and J-segment for Sport Utility Cars (including Off-road Vehicles), Light Commercial Vehicles, compact Sport Utility Vehicles (C-SUVs), compact Crossover Utility Vehicles (C-CUVs).

As the "segment" terminology became more common in the United States, in 2012 the New York Times described the differences, saying "today's small cars actually span three main segments in the global vehicle market. The tiny A-segment cars include the Chevy Spark and Smart Fortwo. They're extremely short and very light. Slightly larger are B-segment cars like the Ford Fiesta and Chevy Sonic. The A- and B-cars are known as subcompacts. In the C-segment — typically called compacts — are the largest of the small cars. Examples include the Toyota Corolla, a perennial sales leader, as well as the Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, Honda Civic and Volkswagen’s Golf and Jetta." [2]

The modern C-segment market in Europe can be traced back to the launch of the Volkswagen Golf, the first successful hatchback of this size, in 1974. At the time, similar-sized cars like the Ford Escort, Vauxhall Viva, Austin Allegro and Hillman Avenger were still only available as saloons or estates, as were most continental competitors. However, the hatchback bodystyle became the most popular format in this sector of the European market by the early 1980s. Some carmakers even sold the saloon versions of their popular hatchbacks under a different name during the 1980s, namely the Escort-based Ford Orion and Golf-based Volkswagen Jetta. This change in the favoured bodystyle also saw front-wheel drive replace rear-wheel drive as the norm in the C-segment.

The C-segment features many "hot hatchbacks", which feature more powerful engines and often a performance more akin to that of a sports car than a family car. The first successful such car in Europe was the 1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI. Popularity of this type of car multiplied across Europe during the 1980s, with offerings including the Ford Escort XR3i, Vauxhall Astra/Opel Kadett GTE and MG Maestro.

European Market in 2013[3][edit]

The C-segment in Europe, following the above definition, is in 2013 the second most popular segment in the region (slightly after the B-segment), with a 22.2% of the European market.

The C-segment includes the Volkswagen Golf, currently the most popular car in Europe. Basically the Golf, together with other 5 models (Ford Focus, Opel Astra with its Vauxhall twin, Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Skoda Octavia makes the half of the market. VW Group dominates the segment with a 35% share, covering the market with its brands VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat.

Luxury brands such as BMW (1 Series), Audi (A3) and Mercedes (brand-new A-class) are getting more and more popularity in the segment since years, differently from what is happening in other minor segments like A-segment and B-segment.

Success of Mercedes A-class is an example on how luxury is getting more market share in the segment during recent years
Model 9 months 2013 Sales
Volkswagen Golf 344.755
Ford Focus 175.683
Opel/Vauxhall Astra 154.080
Audi A3 124.571
BMW 1 Series 118.490
Škoda Octavia 114.908
Renault Megane 114.495
Mercedes A-Class 100.430
Toyota Auris 82.277
Hyundai i30 75.781
Other C-segment 658.037

Other models in the segment includes:

Fiat Group Geely Group General Motors Honda Group Hyundai-Kia Group Mazda Group Mercedes Group
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Volvo V40 Chevrolet Cruze Honda Civic Kia Cee’d Mazda3 Mercedes CLA-Class
Fiat Bravo Opel/Vauxhall Ampera Honda Insight Hyundai Elantra
Lancia/Chrysler Delta
Dodge Caliber
PSA Group Mitsubishi Group Renault-Nissan Group Subaru Group Toyota Group VW Group
Peugeot 308 Mitsubishi Lancer Dacia Logan Subaru XV Lexus CT Seat Leon
Citroen C4 Renault Symbol/Thalia Subaru Impreza Toyota Corolla VW Beetle
Citroen DS4 Skoda Rapid
Citroen C4 Aircross VW Jetta
Citroen C-Elysee Seat Toledo
Peugeot 301

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Regulation (EEC) No 4064/89 - Merger Procedure". Office for Official Publications of the European Communities L-2985 Luxembourg. 
  2. ^ "Taking the ‘Cheap’ Out of the Small Car". The New York Times, September 9, 2012, Phil Patton. 
  3. ^ "Europe 9 months 2013: Discover the Top 344 best-selling models!". Best Selling Cars.