Once representing more than a 5th of the whole car market, the large family car segment is now dwindling, representing just under 4% of the market. In the days before the hot hatchback and SUVs, the large family cars such as the Cortina and Cavalier dominated the market, each successive Cortina outselling the last. Since then however hot hatches, SUVs and crossovers have poured into the market, fragmenting it into increasingly niche segments. The demand for large family cars, however practical and capable has fallen, people preferring fashionable crossovers and SUVs to the all rounder Mondeos and Insignias.
The large family car met it’s first challenger in the 1980s with the Golf GTI paving the way for similar hatch backs like the Peugoet 205. Soon people were realising they could downsize to smaller family cars and hatchbacks and so the large family car began to decline in sales. Throughout the 1990s the Ford Focus continued where the Escort left off and stole sales from its larger brother the Mondeo. The result being that by the 2000s large family cars were now a firm second to the smaller family cars. It is fair to say that over time cars in general have grown so monstrously, that a Ford Cortina covers the equivalent space of a current Ford Focus, rather than a Mondeo. This can account for some of the buyer movement to what are perceived to be ‘smaller’ family cars.
However the move to crossovers and SUVs represents a very different shift in consumer attitudes. Ironically the crossovers (such as the Quashqai) and SUVs (such as the Ford Kuga) of the world rarely provide more space, pace or economy than the 508s and Insignias of the world provide. Their appeal lies in their higher seating position and perceived adaptability being able to go off-road. Rarely will any of these cars ever see so much as a muddy field and the weight of carrying around any kind of 4 wheel drive system quickly banishes any hope of providing better economy over a Mondeo. Yet people’s perception of these, as fashionable and desirable cars has led to their market share growing up to 25% for crossovers and 28% for SUVs year on year. Their growth has led to yet more misery for the large family car whose days as a stalwart of the driveway seem to be over.