VFACTS 2023: Subaru BRZ topples Ford Mustang to lead sports-car sales in Australia

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The Ford Mustang’s seven-year reign at the top of the sports-car sales charts has come to an end, amid a changeover from old to new models.

The Subaru BRZ has dethroned the Ford Mustang as Australia’s top-selling sports car, as stock of the outgoing sales champion dries up ahead of a new model due in the coming months.

Data published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries shows 1573 examples of the Subaru BRZ were reported as sold, compared to 1475 Ford Mustang coupe and convertible.

It is an all-time record for the BRZ – surpassing the 1411 deliveries reported for the original in 2013 – and the lowest sales for the Mustang since 2015, when 121 dealer and media demonstrator vehicles arrived before the end of the year ahead of the formal launch in 2016.

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At the end of June 2023, the Ford Mustang (1232 deliveries) led the Subaru BRZ (838 deliveries) by about 400 vehicles in the year-to-date sales race.

However – as production of the current Ford Mustang ended in the US mid-year, and stock was exhausted locally – the BRZ took the lead in November 2023, with 1494 year-to-date deliveries to the Mustang’s 1470.

A new Ford Mustang was unveiled in the US in September 2022 but it is not due in Australian showrooms until April 2023 at the earliest.

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New Ford Mustang.

Sales of the outgoing Mustang have fallen from 9165 examples in 2017 – a 21st-century record for a sports car – to 3948 in 2019, and 1887 in 2022.

Sports-car sales are considered to have a “half life”, where enthusiast buyers rush to snap up new models at the start of their life cycle – before interest wanes as many of the buyers who want the car already have one.

It is part of the reason behind the sales boom for sub-$80,000 sports cars last year, as the category saw the arrival of the new Nissan Z in late 2022, and a new BMW M2 in 2023, to join the regular 2 Series Coupe range introduced in late 2021.

The 2023 sales result for the Subaru BRZ is the best in its history – across both the first (2013-20) and second (2022-onwards) generations – beating the original car’s peak of 1411 sales in 2013, its first full year on sale.

Whereas the original BRZ sold in a fraction of the numbers of its Toyota 86 twin – which peaked at 6706 deliveries in 2013, a figure not matched since – the second generations of the twins have seen the reverse occur.

Compared to the 1573 BRZs reported as sold in 2023, Toyota reported 1144 deliveries of the GR86 – introduced in September 2022, after the new BRZ arrived the same February.

One reason for the difference may be pricing. In the BRZ range the manual transmission is $3800 cheaper than the automatic – whereas Toyota has marked-up the price of the manual – which lacks key safety technology fitted to the auto – to match the other transmission.

Rounding out the sales podium in the sub-$80,000 sports-car class was the BMW 2 Series Coupe (1164 sales, up from 670 in 2022) – ahead of the Toyota GR86 (1144 sales, up from 212), Mazda MX-5 (653 sales, up from 495), Nissan Z (449 sales, up from 129) and Mini Convertible (390 sales, up from 182).

The next class up – “sports cars $80,000 to $200,000” – was led by the BMW 4 Series (858 sales) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (808 sales) coupe and convertibles, while the Porsche 911 continued to dominate the over-$200,000 class, with 558 deliveries, or 41 per cent of the category.

The seven-year winning streak for the Ford Mustang in the sports-car category – at any price – is the longest in at least 25 years in Australia.

The next longest streak since the start of the millennium is claimed by the Holden Monaro, which was Australia’s top-selling sports car for five years from 2002 – its first full year on sale – until its discontinuation in 2006.

Sports-car sales leaders over the past 25 years

  • 1998 or earlier, to 2000 – Toyota Celica
  • 2001 – Nissan 200SX
  • 2002 to 2006 – Holden Monaro
  • 2007 to 2008 – BMW 3 Series coupe/convertible as overall leader (or Volkswagen Eos in sub-$80,000 class)
  • 2009 to 2011 – BMW 1 Series coupe/convertible
  • 2012 – Hyundai Veloster
  • 2013 to 2015 – Toyota 86
  • 2016 to 2022 – Ford Mustang
  • 2023 – Subaru BRZ

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

Read more about Alex MisoyannisLinkIcon

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