Typically characterized for making appearance-focused purchases, the urban-lifestyle enthusiast is now expanding into the performance market as well, indicating that these days beauty alone doesn’t cut it.

Although their performance modifications have yet to include products like high-dollar turbo kits, urban consumers are embracing luxury by exploring the different avenues in which performance can affect their rides. The number of urban-lifestyle enthusiasts who say they modify their rides to increase performance jumped 35% over the past two years, according to SEMA research.

"The urban market continues to embrace an increasing number of performance-based modifications,” SEMA Market Research Analyst Zack Krelle states. “At the same time, however, consumers are balancing their decisions while keeping an eye on fuel prices. At a recent SEMA-hosted focus panel, enthusiasts made it clear that fuel prices impact their buying habits and they are warming up to the notion of paying more for parts that have either no effect or an increase in fuel efficiency while offering the same performance benefits."

The urban market is also redefining itself by adopting features of the sport-compact market, with some enthusiasts leaning towards the Japanese VIP style—an aggressive take on premium luxury sedans. The Americanized VIP market segment relies heavily on trends found in Japan, but has also incorporated a high-end European luxury following. SEMA research reveals that 57% of urban-lifestyle hobbyists have an interest in VIP cars.

Overall, the urban-lifestyle market remains loyal to its roots. Custom wheels and audio systems are the top customizations, but there is no doubt that performance products are gaining a presence. Even as 20-inch-plus-size wheels remain the defining modification trend, performance parts come into play as more urban enthusiasts continue to learn that engine modifications, such as performance exhausts and air filters, help restore horsepower often robbed by these super-size wheels.

“The urban market, which at one point was primarily concerned with aesthetic modifications, is now beginning to embrace performance as well,” said Brian Scotto, executive editor for the urban-lifestyle magazine RIDES. “Sure, rims are still the main focus, but now you see our audience putting on exhausts and other power mods.”

Scotto notes that the urban-lifestyle Donk sub-segment has embraced performance even further, similar to modifications seen within the musclecar market.

“We’re starting to see everything from simple engine tweaks to crate motors and forced induction surface in cars that would be classified as part of the urban scene,” Scotto remarked.

To read the full report on the urban-lifestyle market, click here.

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