The sector grew by one third through the end of September.

Sales of big, posh SUVs are running at record levels in Europe, growing by one third through the end of September.

Data released by market researcher JATO Dynamics shows that 185,000 large premium SUVs were sold across Europe in the nine months to the end of September.

The Volvo XC90 was the big winner in the segment, sales growing a massive 163 percent over the same period last year to 26,860, thanks to the introduction of the second-generation model towards the end of 2015.

The Swede moves up to second place on the best-seller chart, behind the BMW X5 on 28,601 sales. But that number represents growth of only one percent, among the lowest rates in the top ten. As a result, JATO predicts that the Volvo will have overtaken the BMW by the end of the year.

Other recently-introduced models did well, too. The Audi Q7 saw growth of 83 percent up to 24,535 sales, enough to place it third. And sales of the fourth-placed Mercedes GLE grew 35 percent to 22,409.

Surprisingly, sales of the ancient-but-still-awesome Land Rover Discovery also grew by 27 percent. Land Rover leads the sector overall, all three of its contenders - Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, and Discovery - making the top ten. Combined, their sales totaled 44,131.

Despite only having one model in the top ten, sales across Mercedes’ four-model range were enough for it to rank second overall.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, JATO analyst Felipe Munoz said the increase in large premium SUV sales is “really impressive for such a high-priced segment”.  

Interestingly, sales of cars with four-cylinder engines jumped by 77 percent over the period. That is mostly thanks to the XC90, which is sold exclusively with four-pot motors. However, six-cylinder engines still account for biggest chunk of sales by far, at 119,463 units.

But sales of plug-in hybrid models show the biggest growth by far, increasing 299 percent.

Germany bought more large premium SUVs than any other European nation, paying out for 52,674 of them. The UK was second on 43,798.

Source: Automotive News Europe

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