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Review of China’s mid-level car market in 2015

Within China’s mid-level passenger car segment, Chinese brands have seen a rapid growth, particularly in the SUV segment. However, they are not as competitive among mid-level cars, which are still dominated by joint venture products.

The Geely GC9 is one of the most popular mid-level Chinese brand sedans, but when compared to JV equivalents, it is still not at the same level in terms of sales.

The following is a list of major mid-level cars by brands based on their 2015 sales numbers (in descending order).


Volkswagen Passat, 205,794 units

¥183,800-¥332,900 ($28,166-$51,015)

The Volkswagen Passat becomes the sales champion in the mid-level car segment with 17,000 averaged monthly sales. As SAIC-Volkswagen’s star model, the Passat’s exterior and interior design appeals to Chinese buyers, plus its solid performance and build quality. 

Volkswagen Magotan, 155,507 units


Unlike its brother Passat, the Magotan targets younger buyers with more stylish design. FAW-Volkswgen upgraded the Magotan in 2015 but did not bump up the price. It is not a surprise that the Magotan performed well. 

Hyundai Mistra, 154,603 units


The Hyundai Mistra is the only Korean car that made into the top 10 last year. Designed for the compact car segment, the Mistra has the dimension of a mid-level car. This feature attracts customers with tight budget but still looking for larger interior space.

In addition, the Mistra ticks all the right boxes such as a mature exterior styling, leather interior and plenty of optional configurations. All of these help the Mistra to take the third spot, despite its relatively inferior ride quality. 

Honda Accord, 128,126 units


The Honda Accord experienced a steady growth throughout 2015. Its monthly sales grew from 5,000 units in January to more than 10,000 units towards the end of the year. The 9th generation Accord adds plated chrome to its front fascia. Also, it manages to maintain enough interior space with a slightly shrunken body. With good power and fuel economy, the Accord is naturally a popular choice in this segment. 

Toyota Camry, 128,046 units


The Toyota Camry design was tuned to attract young buyers in 2015. The “Keen Look” design injected some sporty elements into the model. In addition, Toyota equips the Camry with a 2.0L double injection engine to compete with more and more turbo engines in the market. Plus its comfortability, the Camry’s sale is as good as it has always been. 

Ford Mondeo, 120,202 units


The Mondeo’s Aston Martin style front grille impresses many young customers. With 1.5T and 2.0T engines, it has one of the best configurations in the segment. If there were deeper rebates, the Mondeo could have climbed up a couple of spots. 

Audi A4L, 115,149 units


To Chinese customers, the Audi brand enjoys a special charm. With all the new models in the segment, the attraction of the A4L still remains strong. The deep rebate certainly helped the A4L to hold on to its spot in the top 10. It will be interesting to see the head to head competition between the new locally made A4L and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. 

Nissan Teana, 111,774 units


In addition to its zero gravity seat and great NVH performance, the excellent comfortability is still the Teana’s biggest selling point. But its driving dynamics is far from fun and tunes more to older customers. This may be the reason why the Teana is not at the top of the list. 

Buick Regal, 110,637 units


The Regal was designed to be a sporty mid-level car aiming at younger buyers. There were not many changes to the model in 2015, but its existing design, configuration and price are not bad to begin with. Moreover, the new government tax incentive has given the Regal’s 1.6T model an extra push. 

BMW 3-Series, 98,600 units


The 3-Series still stands firm against numerous competitors. The 2016 model is equipped with LED headlights, active braking assistance and lane changing assistance. But with challenges from the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the new generation of the A4L, the 3-Series will have a tough year in 2016. 

Geely GC9, 32,562 units


Although way out of the Top 10, the Geely GC9 had the largest sale among all Chinese brands. The GC9 has a decent exterior and good value for the price, but that is pretty much what the model has.

To summarize, the mid-level sedan market was still dominated by JV brands in 2015. Volkswagen is the biggest winner with its Passat taking the top and the Magotan second spot. The two Japanese giants Honda and Toyota are right behind Volkswagen. Among luxury brands, the old Audi A4L is still popular, so is the BMW 3-Series. The Chinese brands still need to work hard to be recognized in this market segment.  

(Rewritten by Kevin Wang based on author’s article published on

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