To innovate or not to innovate, for the traditional categories, the question no longer arises too much.
There are many similarities between the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo. In particular, all three are accomplished city cars suffering from no real flaws, quite the contrary. Because of their great versatility and their relatively measured prices, they are extremely popular on the Old Continent. They have sold a few million copies since they have been around, and they are such an integral part of the European automotive landscape.
So much so that renewing them is not an easy task. For the German brand, it’s simple, house tradition obliges, as a Golf must remain a Golf, a Polo must look like a Polo. Ford and Renault do not hesitate for their part to review their respective city car in more depth in general but, once is not custom, they decided this time to be inspired by Volkswagen and not to change anything or almost at the time of renewing their respective city car. Differentiating a Fiesta VIII from a Fiesta VII or a Clio V from a Clio IV is not an easy task. And we can’t say that it really succeeded for them…
We are so unused to seeing a Clio underperform commercially that, a few months after its launch, we tended to attribute its first sluggish steps to a complex situation (health crisis, shortage of materials). However, a few years later, it is clear that the pill has never really taken. It, which was still the second best-selling car in Europe in 2020 (followed, well, well, by the Polo and Fiesta, for the 5th consecutive year) has since been relegated to tenth place. Ouch!
Worse still for the Fiesta which is no longer 4th but… 44th! A veritable descent into hell which quite simply pushed the American manufacturer to put an end to the current generation from next June. And it will not be replaced. French buyers may get over it, but in the United Kingdom where it regularly sat on the sales podium, there is no doubt that the inhabitants will be somewhat disconcerted.
The Polo is doing a little better. But, all the same, for a model that has just been restyled, its 12 places lost in the general classification (it is only 26th in Europe, even the Tiguan is in front!) and its -26% worry Frankly. Moreover, since we are talking about a mid-career facelift, the look of the current generation has been so badly received by the public that the German brand has decided, it is not trivial for it, to review enough deeply the aesthetics of his city car. For once, we could not accuse Volkswagen of immobility. But the damage was done, it seems, since the restyling did not have the expected effects. Looking forward to the next version (if there is one?)!
Stand out, the new trend
There is no doubt that, in these three cases, conservatism has clearly not paid off. For the Clio and the Fiesta, it was a novelty to follow this strategy. And as far as the Polo is concerned, we’ve seen it, we know it’s more usual. And it is true that, of the three, it is the one that has evolved the most from one generation to another. But we cannot say that she has changed at all. Just look at the competition. Between a 208 first version and the new, not much to see. Well, there, the success is with go, it is today the most diffused car in Europe. Same for the Yaris whose lines of the last opus mark a clear break with those of the previous one and which is doing with honors. Admittedly, its raised Cross variant has nibbled away some valuable market share, but it is holding its own (7th overall, drop limited to 4% over the year 2022). To survive precisely in the face of the SUVs which are multiplying and meeting with great success, relying on one’s achievements clearly does not seem to be the appropriate solution.
Also read on Auto-Moto.com:
But where is Ford going?
New Renault Clio and Peugeot 208: the clash of restylings will take place in 2023
The Volkswagen Golf is no longer the queen of sales in Europe, should other compact sedans be worried?