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Luxury car brands from around the world

Luxury cars have been a part of the car industry since the very beginning.

What is the definition of a luxury car?

That depends on who you ask. Talk to most car enthusiasts and experts and the broad definition is a car that has a higher level of equipment, comfort and/or performance than a typical car.

Some might also say a luxury car is simply a more expensive car than average. Certainly that’s the view of the Australian Taxation Office, which literally defines a luxury car as any that costs more than $76,950.

Do some manufactures only make luxury cars?

Yes, luxury car brands are typically defined by the cars they build across the entire range. Brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, for example, offer everything from small hatchbacks to luxury limousines and SUVs but all are considered luxury cars.

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. Nissan is a mainstream brand but offered the GT-R sports car which was, at least in the eyes of the tax office, a luxury car. The same could be argued for some new electric models, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N and Kia EV9.

Lexus NX 350h

How much does a luxury car cost?

While the ATO defines it as anything above $76,950, the reality is luxury cars cover an enormous spectrum, especially in the last decade or so as some brands have moved into smaller segments.

The BMW range begins at $54,800 for the 118i hatch and stretches all the way to $377,00 for the M8 Competition Gran Coupe.

Mercedes-AMG C43

Where did luxury cars originate?

Given the automobile was invented in Germany it’s not surprising the European industry led the charge with luxury cars. After all, every car was a luxury when the ‘horseless carriage’ was a new invention. 

Over the next few decades, prior to The Second World War, a huge number of luxury brands emerged but not all survived the long haul. Brands like Delage, Delahaye, Talbot-Lago, Horch and Hispano Suiza were once successful but are now historic footnotes.

Genesis GV70

Simultaneously, the American car industry was burgeoning, with brands including Cadillac, Lincoln, Continental, Packard, Stutz and Duesenberg appearing between 1900 and the start of World War II.

Are luxury cars more prevalent and popular in certain countries?

Luxury cars are popular around the world, although the focus has historically been on the sizable US and European markets. In Australia, luxury vehicles, particularly those from the German luxury car brands - Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz - sell in strong numbers.

Bugatti W16 Mistral

Do different countries produce different styles of luxury cars?

While the car industry has evolved towards a global market, there are some trends that have emerged. For example, the German luxury sector has tended to focus on a broad range of sedans and SUVs that appeal to executives, with famous examples such as the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

In contrast, the Italian industry is famous for performance cars, with the likes of Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati being the most prominent brands from there.

Polestar 2

More recently the Chinese market is seizing the opportunity with electrification, with newer brands such as Polestar, Nio and Zeeker emerging, while the USA has pushed its efforts behind SUVs.

Which country has the most luxury car brands?

British luxury cars - 7

Aston Martin



Land Rover





Italian luxury cars - 5

Alfa Romeo





German luxury cars - 4





Porsche Taycan GTS

American luxury cars - 4





Japanese luxury cars - 3




French luxury cars - 3



DS Automobiles

Chinese luxury cars - 3




Cadillac Escalade IQ

Korean luxury cars - 1


Swedish luxury cars - 1


Spanish luxury cars - 1


Stephen Ottley
Contributing Journalist
Steve has been obsessed with all things automotive for as long as he can remember. Literally, his earliest memory is of a car. Having amassed an enviable Hot Wheels and Matchbox collection as a kid he moved into the world of real cars with an Alfa Romeo Alfasud. Despite that questionable history he carved a successful career for himself, firstly covering motorsport for Auto Action magazine before eventually moving into the automotive publishing world with CarsGuide in 2008. Since then he's worked for every major outlet, having work published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age,, Street Machine, V8X and F1 Racing. These days he still loves cars as much as he did as a kid and has an Alfa Romeo Alfasud in the garage (but not the same one as before... that's a long story).
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