Despite being an all-new model, the latest C8 generation Audi A6 hasn’t been as well received by customers as Audi had hoped.
The all-new Audi A6 made its global debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. In that same year, the Lexus ES, also a new generation model and now riding on Toyota’s TNGA-K platform, also made its debut at the 2018 Beijing Auto Show.
2019 was the first full-year sales for both models.
According to the latest data compiled by Felipe Munoz (Twitter handle @lovecarindustry) of Jato Dynamics, the Lexus ES now outsells the Audi A6, albeit by a small margin.
More important than the absolute numbers was the fact that the Lexus ES recorded a staggering 41 percent growth while the Audi A6 slid 12 percent. The Lexus ES was also the only model in its class to register any positive growth last year.
Part of the reason behind the ES’s growth is Lexus has rationalized its E-segment offerings.
The previous generation Lexus ES was slotted in a somewhat odd position, sitting between the compact executive Lexus IS and the E-segment Lexus GS, but Lexus promoted the front-wheel drive ES as a more spacious alternative to the GS and other established German rivals.
With a clearer product line-up, customers no longer cross-shopped between the GS and ES and it made the task of selling easier.
The latest Audi A6 looks great but is ultimately more of the same. Once set apart by its unique exterior LED lighting technology, MMI user interface, and Virtual Cockpit, rivals have since caught up with Audi.
The challenge for Audi is not just BMW or Mercedes-Benz as even its sister-brand Volkswagen have significantly closed the gap in terms of refinement and features offered, especially when it comes to digitization.
Last year was the first time in 20 years that Audi lost its No.1 position on the premium car sales chart in China – its most important market, more important than even Germany – to Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Closer to Malaysia, the Lexus ES is a bit of a left-field option. There’s the stigma that a Lexus is an overpriced Toyota but few will want to admit that the same applies to Audi and Volkswagen as well.
You would think that it’s an Asian thing, but funny enough, Lexus outsells BMW in Taiwan. It’s still behind Mercedes-Benz though. Outside of USA, Taiwan is the biggest market for the Lexus ES.
Lexus Malaysia’s range are all imported from Japan so their models are usually more expensive than an equivalent locally-assembled BMW or Mercedes-Benz but the ES is an exception. Somehow, Lexus Malaysia was able to secure a competitive price for it.
The Lexus ES is priced from RM 299,888 to RM 332,888, which is actually cheaper than a Mercedes-Benz E-Class (RM 329,888 – RM 399,888) and a BMW 5 Series (RM 328,888 – RM 372,800).
The Audi A6 is not a strong seller here and most Audis sold in Malaysia are cheap reconditioned models so the fact that the ES is better received in international markets than the A6 doesn’t really matter to local consumers. The fight has always been limited to just to the 5 Series and E-Class.