The C-segment is the third smallest of the European segments for passenger cars, and is described as "medium cars". It is equivalent to the Euro NCAP "small family car" size class, and the compact car category in the United States and Great Britain
The five highest selling C-segment cars in Europe are the Volkswagen Golf, Škoda Octavia, Opel Astra, Ford Focus and Renault Mégane.
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According to 2011 sales, compact cars are currently the second segment in Europe after the subcompact one (which in Europe corresponds to A-segment + B-segment), with approximately 3 million units sold.
The world's first hatchback, the 1958 FR layout Austin A40 Farina Countryman. Because of the Volkswagen Golf's definition and long standing dominance of this class it is often referred to as the "Golf segment" in much of Europe.
During the late 1990s, compact MPVs increased in popularity as a competitor to the compact car, with models such as the Renault Scenic and the Citroën C4 Picasso becoming popular in Europe.. By the early 2010s, demand for compact MPVs was declining, due to the rise of the compact SUV.
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At the start of the 1970s, the two most popular sectors of the UK market were compact cars (also known as "small family cars") and mid-size cars (also known as "large family cars"). Since its launch in 1962, the BMC 1100/1300 had often been Britain's best selling car, and other locally produced compact cars included the Ford Escort, Vauxhall Viva and Hillman Avenger. Imported compact cars that were popular in the UK included the Citroën GS and Datsun Sunny 120Y.
The BMC 1100/1300 was replaced in 1973 by the Austin Allegro, and second-generation Ford Escort (jointly designed in Britain and Germany) was released in 1974. The third-generation Vauxhall Viva was produced until late 1979, when it was replaced by the Vauxhall Astra (a rebadged Opel Kadett D which was initially produced in West Germany and Belgium).
The Astra was part of a late 1970s transition in compact cars from being predominantly rear-wheel drive saloons, to becoming front-wheel drive hatchbacks (by then an increasingly popular format in mainland Europe). The Austin Allegro— introduced five years earlier— was also front-wheel drive, although it was produced in saloon and estate body styles (however the related Austin Maxi was a hatchback). The German-built Volkswagen Golf front-wheel drive hatchback was released in 1974 and was one of the first significant imported compact cars to impact the UK compact car market. The sporty "GTI" version of the Golf sparked a huge demand for "hot hatchbacks" in the UK and many other countries.
The Hillman Avenger (marketed as a Chrysler Avenger form 1976-1979 and as a Talbot Avenger from 1979-1981) continued to sell well, in spite of the 1978 launch of the Talbot Horizon front-wheel drive hatchback.
The Ford Escort Mk3 went on sale in the autumn of 1980 replacing the rear-drive saloon format in favour of hatchbacks and front-wheel drive. A saloon version, called the Ford Orion was added in 1983. Also in 1983, the Austin Allegro (produced in saloon and estate body styles) was replaced by the Austin Maestro hatchback. In 1984, the Vauxhall Astra Mk2 hatchback/estate/cabriolet was released, including a saloon version called the Vauxhall Belmont.
The first significant Japanese-designed compact car in the UK was the 1981 Triumph Acclaim, a four-door saloon based on the Honda Ballade with a Honda-designed engine. The Acclaim was replaced in 1984 by the Rover 200. In late 1985, the Peugeot 309 became the first Peugeot to be produced in the UK.
Ford began the 1990s by replacing its 10-year-old Escort (and the Orion saloon version) with the Ford Escort MkV. In 1998, the European version of the Escort was replaced by the global Ford Focus MkI model.
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exact market definition was left open .. boundaries between segments are blurred by factors other than the size or length of cars
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There is no or very little overlap between the traditional segments A to FPDF EU headliner
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The [C] segment is around 4.5 metres long.
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4) Compact— vehicles between 165 and 179.99 inches in length or equivalent to Europe's C-segment for cars.
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