The C-segment is the third smallest of the European segments for passenger cars and is described as "medium cars". It is equivalent to the Euro NCAP "small family car" size class, and the compact car category in the United States.
The ten highest selling C-segment cars in Europe are the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus, Škoda Octavia, Mercedes A-Class, Peugeot 308, Opel Astra, SEAT León, Toyota Corolla, Renault Mégane, Audi A3 and Honda Civic.
Honda Civic (1972 - present)
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According to 2011 sales, compact cars are currently the second segment in Europe after the subcompact one (which in Europe corresponds to A-segment + B-segment), with approximately 3 million units sold.
Mainstream compact sedans began falling in popularity since 1990s, when Peugeot stopped production of 306 in 4-door saloon form, and also sharply declining since 2010s, as well as the reduced sales of 4-door Ford Focus.
During the late 1990s, compact MPVs increased in popularity as a competitor to the compact car, with models such as the Renault Scenic and the Citroën C4 Picasso becoming popular in Europe. By the early 2010s, demand for compact MPVs was declining, due to the rise of the compact SUV.
History in the United Kingdom
At the start of the 1970s, the two most popular sectors of the UK market were small family cars and large family cars. Since its launch in 1962, the BMC 1100/1300 had often been Britain's best selling car, and other locally produced compact cars included the Ford Escort, Vauxhall Viva and Hillman Avenger. Imported small family cars that were popular in the UK included the Citroën GS and Datsun Sunny 120Y.
A second-generation Ford Escort (jointly designed in Britain and Germany) was released in 1974. The same year, the German Volkswagen Golf front-wheel drive hatchback was released, becoming one of the first significantly-imported small family cars in the UK market. The sporty "GTI" version of the Golf sparked a huge demand for "hot hatches" in the UK and many other countries.
The Astra was part of a late-1970s transition in small family cars from being predominantly rear-wheel drive saloons, to becoming front-wheel drive hatchbacks (by then increasingly popular in mainland Europe). The Austin Allegro - introduced five years earlier - was front-wheel drive but was built in only saloon and estate body styles. Only the related Austin Maxi was a hatchback.
The Hillman Avenger (marketed as a Chrysler Avenger 1976-1979 and as a Talbot Avenger 1979-1981) continued to sell well, in spite of the 1978 launch of the Talbot Horizon front-wheel drive hatchback.
The Ford Escort Mk3 went on sale in the autumn of 1980, replacing the rear-wheel-drive saloon format of the Mk2 with a hatchback and front-wheel drive. (A saloon version called the Ford Orion was added in 1983.) Only in 1983 was the Austin Allegro replaced by the Austin Maestro hatchback. In 1984, the Vauxhall Astra Mk2 hatchback/estate/cabriolet was released, alongside a saloon version called the Vauxhall Belmont.
The first significant Japanese-designed compact car in the UK was the 1981 Triumph Acclaim, a licensed version of the four-door Honda Ballade with a Honda-designed engine. The Acclaim was replaced in 1984 by the Rover 200. In late 1985 the Peugeot 309 became the first Peugeot to be built in the UK at the Ryton plant.
Ford began the 1990s by replacing its 10-year-old Escort (and the Orion saloon version) with the Ford Escort MkV. In 1998, the European version of the Escort was replaced by the global Ford Focus MkI model.
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exact market definition was left open .. boundaries between segments are blurred by factors other than the size or length of cars
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There is no or very little overlap between the traditional segments A to FPDF EU headliner
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The [C] segment is around 4.5 metres long.
- Jacobs, Andrew James (2016). The new domestic automakers in the United States and Canada: history, impacts, and prospects. Lexington Books. p. 33. ISBN 9780739188262. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
4) Compact— vehicles between 165 and 179.99 inches in length or equivalent to Europe's C-segment for cars.
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