With all the recent economic forecasts and jobs reports, you’d think it was doom and gloom out there, (and it may be), but you’ll only get a half-hearted nod of sympathy from our German friends. These are good times in the auto industry, one that’s recovering ahead of the general economy, and this is especially true for European automakers. Both Audi and Mercedes-Benz posted best-ever January numbers, with only a few makes seeing negligible drops. When we were able to actually find a model that saw a percentage drop—such as the 28-percent decline in Audi A8 sales—we noticed it was only a handful of cars away from the previous mark. On the other hand, while the A4 was up only 7.8 percent, it was more than enough to make up the difference.
The Germans flourished with new models, and heaps of awards too— the 2012 VW Passat was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year— and the 2012 Audi A7 was named everything good, by everyone. Mercedes-Benz launched the next-generation C-Class, and people were paying attention. BMW showed us the ultimate luxury SUV needn’t be a behemoth, with colossal X3 sales. It seems the Europeans have figured out the American market, and it doesn’t look like things will slow anytime too soon.
- A6/A7: The A6 has finally caught on and in a big way, and perhaps the most clever thing Audi did was reshape the rear to give us the easy-on-the-eyes A7.
- SUVs: Who said SUVs were dead? Both the Q5 and Q7 have favored well offering performance, comfort and craftsmanship.
- A4: Audi’s breadwinner, just got a raise.
- 3 Series: The automaker’s bread and butter, BMW sells more of these than the whole of the rest of its lineup combined. And with its new 3 due out this spring, watch out.
- X3: Apparently, if you put a “3″ in the name, you’re on to something. BMW can’t keep its little pitbull in stock.
- Mini: Mini is doing well, thanks in no small part to the Mini Countryman, a bloated-I-just-spent-four-hours-in-a-Vegas-buffet version of the regular Cooper.
- C-Class: New, Good. People, Like. Outsold all other MBs, including the E-Class.
- M-Class: Lots of leather, wood, and shiny stuff, with a Mercedes-Benz badge starting under 50k. We’re unsure if the cargo hold comes with a soccer ball, juice boxes and a pink yoga-mat.
- E-Class: MB’s old faithful was a little less faithful in January. A sign of getting old? They’re still high-performance, attractive cars with plenty of appeal, so no need to panic.
- Sales don’t matter, they’re all gorgeous and we want all of them. Any of them. Boxster and Cayman saw a small dip, 911 made up for it. The Cayenne was not used in a master cleanse, the Panamera still looks like a frog waiting to leap, a beautiful well-crafted frog at that.
- Jetta: Quietly putting up strong numbers, despite increasing competition.
- Tiguan: A good turbocharged four-cylinder, stylish cabin, and decent fuel economy spells win, despite its name.
- TDI models: V-Dub has taken the unofficial reins as leader-in-chief of the diesel movement, and Americans are slowly (but not that slowly) warming up. One in Six VW’s sold here now is a TDI.
Source: Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab